In a culture that promotes #leanin, let me share that there may be a season that you need to #leanout. And that’s totally ok. You may have to care for a spouse or parent who is sick. You may have to step back to take care of your own mental health. Or you may choose to step back or home to care for young children—out of choice or necessity.
Work hard. Learn all that you can on the job. Network like crazy. But at the end of the day— do it for the right organization. Look beyond the paycheck and the title.
Look around the office. Are women returning after maternity leave? Does your office have an adequate place for women to pump? Are there parents of young kids? Is leadership open to remote work? Does your office have a fair short-term disability policy? Do you get interrogated every time you ask to schedule a doctors appointment?
I have had many candid conversations with clients and friends who have shared that they loved their work but had to walk away because the corporation wanted all of them and their family needed them. You can’t give 100% to everyone.
Many women—and men— assumed that if they just grind it out and prove themselves indispensable early in their career that their office would later remember their contributions and accommodate their schedule requests. Wrong. The Pew Research Center reports that 10 percent of highly educated mothers (those who earned a master’s degree or greater) stay home.
How do you know if the company you are interviewing with is family or self-care friendly?
- Do a reverse reference check. Find someone on LinkedIn who you are connected to who used to work for the company. Send them a message like:
I’m interviewing right now with ___, and I’d love to hear about your experience there. I’m hoping for some insight into the culture from someone who can be totally candid because they’re no longer at the company.
- Drive by the office a few days in a row at 6:30 or 7. Is the parking lot full?
- Look carefully at the benefits package. Does the insurance actually cover what you need? A company that pays for parental leave is more likely to provide support to working parents in non-financial ways as well. Look also for companies that call out IVF coverage, help with adoption or other family-oriented perks.
- Spend time visiting the corporate website and Glassdoor. Companies that accommodate parents or caregivers create a culture that provides flexibility for working moms and dads want you to know about it. They will usually advertise it on their website and in job descriptions.