You Might As Well Paint a Target On Your Back As Take Flex-Time
Having just been asked not to be "revolutionary" for a Q&A with corporate women, I'm wondering whether giving the advice contained in the headline here would mark me as a dissident fit only for water-boarding.
Having toiled for 25 years in the fields of corporate commercial high-stakes litigation, I know better. Being cynical about bureaucracies is the mark of a leader, not a loser. And few are the women at the top who would recommend heading up your company's woman's initiative or asking for part-time work.
"You'll end up working full-time anyway and just be paid less for your efforts," one high-level woman with children recently told a new mother friend of mine. "Work fewer hours but don't mention it," she advised, the best guidance in the book in light of recent research on flex-time stigma.
See The Unspoken Stigma of Workplace Flexibility in this Sunday's New York Times. Excerpt below.
Assume for a moment that your employer let you decide when and where you worked — you might arrive early so you could leave in time to care for a child, or work part of the week from home. Or perhaps you want to reduce your hours for a while to care for an aging parent. How would you be perceived if you raised your hand for one of these options?
“Many times these policies are on the books, but informally everyone knows you are penalized for using them,” said Joan C. Williams, founding director of the Center for Work-Life Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, referring to the array of flexible work arrangements some employers offer. “I invented the term ‘flexibility stigma’ to describe that phenomenon. Recent studies have found that it is alive and well, and it functions quite differently for women than it does for men.”
My experience exactly. I wasn't a working mother but those associates and junior partner mothers who worked for me worked more effectively and efficiently than most of the lawyers under my supervision. And they did so even when they were supposedly working "part-time." I don't know about other professions, but there's really no such thing as being a part-time lawyer. Don't fall for the gambit.
It's not revolutionary. It's just common sense.