Are fathers more celebrated than mothers in the corporate world?
The reaction to fatherhood in the corporate world is more celebrated and respected than that of motherhood!
Now that is a controversial statement to make, but hear me out!.
Through my work, I happen to know quite a few corporate couples. One of them shared the following with me:
It was around Christmas time. There are 101 things going on at school, and the BIGGEST of them all? The Christmas play! Both parents ask for their mornings off to be there for their children.
The father was instantly given the time with a virtual pat on the back, and a comment indicating that his boss was proud to have a hands-on father in his team.
The mother was asked what time she had taken off in the last month and what impact this had on her role. It was assumed that her role as a mother was impacting her corporate role.
Now, you might say- “Hey, maybe the mother isn’t a star performer after all!”
But in reality, the lady had just brought a project in under budget- in terms of both time and money. The dad’s project was, however, not running to schedule and he was still behind budget. They have very similar roles within the same company but different departments. When we compare the roles of mums and dads, it doesn’t get more similar than this.
But why are mothers being treated differently to fathers even when the father is as hands-on?
Young corporate women (typically below 28) are eager to be the best she can be, to get noticed, hit targets and get promoted with an urgency and eagerness not present in their male counterparts. Could it be because she is already preparing
for motherhood and wants to achieve all there is to, FAST?
Data shows that women start falling off the corporate leadership rung between 28-40. If we look at what’s happening in her life during that time, it coincides with when most women think of starting a family. Fast forward to motherhood, and suddenly she is in a world of unknowns- a world full of alien experiences, expectations and events.While it may seem that she has her shit together, in reality she is screaming for help, questioning her abilities.
She feels out of control and inadequate in skills and knowledge to excel. The journey from being just another corporate woman to being a corporate mum is packed with a loss of identity and fear of not being good enough - as a mother and as an employee.
It is likely that she is experiencing imposter syndrome first hand. Till she experiences motherhood, it is uncommon for women to doubt their abilities. But once the baby is here, so is MUM GUILT! Society has its effects upon us all, and more often than not, corporate mums don’t fit into the societal mould of how mothers should be. This invariably impacts her confidence as a mother.
Funnily, again because of societal stories we have grown up with, fathers don’t share the mum guilt with their partners. They don’t feel this strange loss of identity. So while a mum asks “Am I a mum first or a corporate high-achiever first?”, dads are nonchalant about it.
Could corporate mothers be subconsciously shrinking themselves? Could they be giving off a whiff of fear and insecurity? Are they slowing down in their ambition? Or have they made the grade quicker than their male peers so that they can take this time out to birth and mother?
OR is it a mindset issue ingrained subconsciously within the corporate world?
Well, in most cases, there are more reasons than one, work situations more complex than what we can theoretically solve. So, whatever the reason that mothers are treated differently, corporates need to be celebrating mothers. We already saw how the flexible working hours have enabled mothers to be delivering better at both home and work. They have proven that they are adaptable, flexible and productive, even in the season of Covid-19. Take away the stress of the pandemic, and imagine what they can produce!
The corporate mother deserves the support and nurture to help her transition from a woman to a mother. As she wants to balance both the roles of being a stellar employee and an amazing mum, she deserves to feel empowered, relaxed and competent. She deserves to be working and mothering from pure alignment, and confidence in her ways! This is how corporations can retain their experience and knowledge in the organisation, and not lose them to the world of mum-preneurship.
It is time that each and everyone of us in the corporate world supports motherhood, and values the corporate mother. But now I’ve a question for you- how will you pledge to support the corporate mother?