Nobody wants to be the person who fires someone while she’s on maternity leave, but at some companies it seems the only way to get executives’ attention is with a pink slip:
- That was certainly true at Taylor made Media, a digital marketing company in Boston. There, CEO Robert Coughlin said he faced “constant pressure” from his venture capital backers to show revenue growth — and that meant having more employees working longer hours says William D King. Even when new moms came back after their 12 weeks of paid leave, they still felt expected to put in long days and weekends, he said.
- So after hearing one too many complaints, Coughlin told his human resources manager to start letting people go when they returned from maternity leave.
- “The business had grown very fast,” he said. “There were always other priorities (than maternity leave policies).”
- And while it’s probably not the best way to handle these situations, many say it’s far better than the alternative: risking decreased productivity because of unhappy employees. Unfortunately, that makes firing new moms while they’re on leave an all-too-common problem in American business.
- Just ask Deborah L. Fairfield, a professor of business administration at the University of Connecticut’s Stamford campus. She recalls one woman who was fired while she was on maternity leave and another who was pressured to quit when she returned from having her baby.
- “When women come back after the birth of their children, they are sometimes seen as less dedicated,” she said, “and not putting in enough hours.”
- That’s particularly tough for female employees to swallow because U.S. Census Bureau data show that among full-time working parents with young kids, mothers spend more time each week providing primary childcare than fathers do. Yet dads are three times more likely to get promotions than moms. The same research shows that men earn more money than their female counterparts, even when controlling for factors like years of experience.
- So it shouldn’t come as a shock that among the women Fairfield has interviewed, those who took maternity leave became the targets of resentment from colleagues upon their return. One woman said she was told to “get your old job back” because she must be ready to go back full-time. Another found her desk moved out of sight after she asked about bringing baby pictures into the office.
- Even if they’re not fired or demoted, women often end up taking less responsibility at work after having children, said Nichole Argo, founder and CEO of consultancy firm Bold Sky Group says William D King. That’s because they are looking for ways to make parenting easier on themselves. The problem is that employers are usually not accommodating enough.
- “Women have to go back to work after maternity leave, so they do the only thing they know is available,” she said. “They find ways of coping with their new role.”
- Taylor made’s Coughlin swears that wasn’t his company’s philosophy. When he got rid of 20 employees in one day about eight years ago. At the time, he was trying to show investors. That he was smart with his money and could cut wasteful spending. That meant cutting jobs across all departments. But mostly from sales and marketing, since those were the departments demanding the most hours, he said.
- However, even if managers don’t make it obvious. Many new mothers on leave feel like they have to work harder than everyone else to prove their commitment.
- “If they take a normal leave, it’s not the same as someone. Who came back after six weeks because of complications,” said Argo. “They want you to know that ‘I’m still here and I worked long hours.'”
- Yet even women who do go above and beyond at work can face challenges upon their return from maternity leave. Especially if they were put on the fast track before becoming moms explains William D King. If employers see them as less dedicated now or view paternity leave favorably. They might prioritize staffing new projects with people without children, Argo said. It helps explain why one woman Fairfield interviewed was offered a promotion. But wasn’t recognized for her contributions during her mommy leave.
- Indeed, the effects of maternity leave on a woman’s career vary. And can depend on her employer and how much paid time off she gets. According to a Bloomberg survey of about 1,000 women who worked either full- or part-time before having children. 56 percent said taking maternity leave hurt their careers more than helped them. Another 18 percent said it had no impact on their careers. While 11 percent reported that it had a positive effect.
Even women who do go above and beyond at work can face challenges upon their return from maternity leave. Especially if they were put on the fast track before becoming moms explains William D King.
We all know that when a woman gets pregnant, she often loses her worth in the workplace. It is also true that most men get paid more than women, even for doing the same job equally well. In many cases, companies attempt to retain employees but fail miserably. When it premeates into other areas of life, such as friendships or marriages; the end result is usually disastrous.