Maternity Leave Ended My Corporate Career
Maternity Leave Career Challenges Are Real
Maternity leave encourages inequality between men and women in the workforce. It hinders a woman's ability to advance and hardens the glass ceiling, turning it into concrete. Maternity leave further perpetuates gender stereotypes that the woman should be at home and sends us back decades. And those urban legends of maternity leave discrimination and the motherhood penalty are very, very real. Seem dramatic? Well, Harvard Business Review agrees “[Their] research clearly signals that the return to work after parental leave is a challenging transition for women, with a significant risk of career derailment” (Source).
So see, I’m not making this up. This is based on actual, real-world and really credible data.
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This all really needs to be said. There are so many women suffering alone, wondering if they’re being too ‘sensitive’ about how they’re being treated at work during their pregnancy and post maternity leave. This is a topic I'm passionate about. because of my own personal experience Ultimately, my maternity leave led to a significant shift in the direction of my career and ended my 12+ year relationship with my employer.
I spent my first maternity leave with a group of professional women. Everyone had great jobs and had been with their employer for at at least five years. Not one of us had a stellar return to work experience.
Friend one missed out on a promotion. The position she’d been eyeing for three years was became available while she was on leave. She didn’t even hear about the opportunity until it was filled.
Friend two went back to one of those completely legal demotions. The kind where the job title and salary are the same but the level of responsibility is significantly less.
Friend three’s corner office was relocated to a small cubicle directly outside the men’s washroom. She sent me text messages describing who would bring a newspaper to the washroom. Seriously.
If you’re interested in learning more about maternity leave rights, visit my post on Five Maternity Leave Rights That are Totally Sketchy.
Some employers, or more likely the individual’s direct manager, may not even recognize that the experiences of these send strong messages. In each case the professional woman is feeling less valued, no matter how legal the steps taken by the employer. From the employer perspective, the argument is that they have met their legal requirement by providing the same level of position and pay post maternity leave. There are some really big issues in this type of approach and I think it’s time to start addressing them.
There are many actions that women can take to protect their professional careers through the transitions of maternity leave and it’s not all hopeless. Check out my post on Five Things To do For Your Career Before Going on Maternity Leave.
As for my return to work from maternity leave, I’d pretty much describe it as heartbreaking. I had a corporate job I loved and returned to find that most of my responsibilities had been absorbed into other positions. After several months with no workload, no clear direction and no sign of improvement, we were forced to end the employment relationship. Those months were especially trying as I was transitioning my son, Jayden, to daycare and leaving him to go to a job that didn’t exist. Something had to give for everyone’s mental health.
I don’t know what all the answers are to this big issue but I know I want to be part of the solution. I’m a Human Resources Pro and Mom. I have never run a business, let alone a website or blog. But I’m here anyways, learning and fumbling through because I want to share this message and help moms.
Visit the About page to get to know me and my family better and to see cute photos of my boys.
I look forward to sharing more about my maternity leave journey and what I have learned from the experience. Spoiler alert: I’ve learned lots.
In the meantime. If you're on maternity leave and concerned about your career, I totally understand where you’re coming from. I hope you don’t have the experience that I did and there are ways to mitigate this before, during and after your maternity leave.
I love my career and my kids too. I know we can make things better.
Every professional woman has the right to rock her career and motherhood at the same time. Whatever your personal and professional ambitions maternity leave is the perfect time to press pause and make sure those goals are aligned with your role as a Mom.
17 Questions To Ask Your Employer Before Going on Maternity Leave
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