Motherhood is not the cause for professional derailment… Confirmation bias is the culprit!
In my book I mention that:
“Companies that force women to make the choice between having a child or profession are being short-sighted in numerous respects. Most obviously, they will lose some of their best women (and fail to attract top talent to their company in the first place) if they make it impossible to integrate family planning with work planning. As I remind my corporate clients, women are not pregnant forever. A few months of leave, flex time and related benefits are small investments compared to losing committed employees and then spending time and money to hire and train replacements. Not having a family-friendly workplace also creates scheduling stress for men alike, who want to be part of the parenting experience, affecting morale and productivity.”
So why is this still such a fundamental and painful issue at work?
Confirmation bias is one of the factors we need to address. Confirmation bias is the tendency to interpret new evidence as “confirmation” of our own believes or theories. We form a view and we will look for evidence to validate our decision. The bias is something like this: “Motherhood is equal to caring for child, staying at home, limited time, lack of concentration in other issues and events…it is hard”
So every Monday morning, managers, HR executives, and most importantly the predominantly white male executive walk into work with all of their assumptions and stereotypes.
When they see a woman who is expecting, the natural tendency is to look for bits and pieces of evidence that will confirm their mental framework. “She is not coming back, she lacks ambition, caring for a child is s full time job, we lost her, her behavior and drive have changed.”
Unfortunately women at this time of their career, are most vulnerable because they don’t have a clear set of strategic tools to help them cope and manage this scenario with a high degree of confidence. They fall into behavior that helps “confirm this mind set”. Many are afraid to ask for accommodation, many try to hide the pregnancy for as long as possible, the feeling of “not belonging” and “being out of the game” creeps in. Most importantly they fail to express and explain how they see their career unfolding after they have the baby, which is a critical part of managing forward. Most keep silence hoping that not mentioning anything about their pregnancy shows their commitment to work!
And so the vicious circle perpetuates itself!
Please read this brief article (http://fortune.com/2017/05/12/motherhood-career-ambition-accenture-survey/ ) it’s a gem! It gets to the core of the issue – this is “real evidence” that helps start a healthy dialogue! Motherhood DOES NOT SQUASH AMBITION! A lack of creativity and understanding on how to manage through a very fundamental human issue does!