I get a lot of inbox activity and emails regarding career and issues within the workplace. I began writing the Cubicle Confessions series because I needed a forum that would allow me to address some of these conundrums. One that I recently received was by a longtime reader, Lolly*, who feels that she is being unfairly treated at work because she is unmarried and doesn’t have kids. Check this out…
Lolly is a successful careerist in the field of advertising and marketing. She has been working for the same company for almost ten years and has moved up rank to a senior employer. The company she works for has been growing at a rapid pace and has recently hired about 25-30 new employees in the past year. Lolly says that many of these employees are married and are moms of little children, and they often “call off of work due to family vacations, feverish babies, a husband with a pulled hamstring, and field trip days at school” (her words, not mine). She goes on to say that “one woman on my team hasn’t completed a full day of work in six months, since she always has to leave work early to tend to her family. I end up getting stuck with the brunt of the work”.
Simply put, Lolly feels like this: “I work harder than my coworker because I’m not a mom”.
Let’s explore this, shall we?
It is hard for me to be impartial because, after all, I’ve been a mom the majority of my life. All of my working life has been one as a mother (I became a mom at 18). I don’t know what it is like to work without being a parent. I do understand the plight of those trying to balance their career and work and being a mom. It is a lot to balance. For those that don’t have as much to balance, it may seem like they are getting the short end of the stick. Employers cannot discriminate against those with children—and why would they want to? They are just as talented and capable as those without kids. The problem here may lie in the culture of the company.
For the most part, I’ve worked with companies who are family friendly and understand that as parents, duty may call outside work. They’ve been flexible with my needs and have allowed me to work from home when I needed to, or leave work earlier to attend a recital or school activity. I see nothing wrong with that as long as I am getting my work done in the quality that is expected from my position.
If I can get my work done efficiently and leave work early to tend to my family, then what problem is it of yours?
Lolly stated that she’s been left holding the ball because she is single and not a mom— I tend to disagree. She may be left holding a ball because she allows herself to be stuck. Lolly has the same vacation and flex options as her other coworkers. She doesn’t have to be married or be a mom to exercise her right to use personal time. She may feel that since others are doing it, she can’t do it. But that would be a problem for management and scheduling, not Lolly.
I think there is more going on than this. Perhaps Lolly is resentful of these women for whatever reason. Maybe that should be something that is taken a closer look at.
To Lolly, I say this: if you feel you are working harder than your counterparts, you probably are. But that doesn’t mean you are working smarter. As working parents, we learn quickly on how to juggle things to fulfill all of our roles. That cannot be equated in hours or time on the clock. If your counterparts are turning in poor work or not doing their share, speak to management. But if they are doing their jobs and management is comfortable with their performance, then what problem is it of yours?
What do you think about Lolly’s assertion that since she’s not a mom, she doesn’t get a pass at work? Have you experienced this? Sound off in the comments.
*name changed for confidentiality