I’m not afraid of being fired: woman-friendly policies matter
Twice this week, I’ve had two key staff members tell me that working for me is the first time in their whole life where their kids and they can get sick and they don’t need to worry about if they’ll have a job or not.
These staff members are women.
Women have a huge pay disparity, that much is well document, but they also have a mental load that we haven’t surpassed yet. Men are expected to show up and put in the work, and have the wives adapt. We all do it. I do it as the CEO even though my husband is under me. It’s just a natural thing we do without thinking too much about it.
If you want to look at how inherent patterns affect women (and men, too), I highly recommend the book Burnout (which I don’t think is the best name for it). It’s a quick read. But it shows you just how easy it is for a woman to start to crack — and why it feels like maybe it’s because of something insignificant.
One thing I know about the women working for me experiencing something keeping them from hitting deadlines they’ve set for themselves: when they recover, holding on to them, however long it’s been waiting, they will come back better.
They do. Every time. They’ve never disappointed me.
I’ve seen a lot of men work for me, crack under pressure, and not come back from it. But the women always do.
Women train from an early age to be resilient — it starts with the many changes we endure as we mature and go through life cycles. We grow boobs and public hair and start cramping and bleeding on the regular. We take days off of school and suffer embarrassment from leaks, having to say “no” to plans because “Aunt Flo” is visiting. Then we get pregnant and we go through a whole other experience — our bodies shift, and change, and then suddenly stop being our own. Doctors and nurses poke and prod, ask you to spread wide, discuss your inner reaches . . . and then you’re challenged by the birth process, nursing or not (and the baggage that comes with that) — and then struggle to learn about independence and dependence . . . and when it’s all finally over . . . hello menopause.
The more we talk about this — the more we install women leaders who talk about this, and go through this, the more the world will become equitable: not equal. Women will put in more work and more brilliance in a sprint if they have to, but they want to work, they want to shine, and they want a family and life, too.
There is no work-life balance. Employers, managers, etc, I beseech you — recognize it, support it, and build in failsafes so that when life unbalances work, work will be there when it tips the other way. Turnover sucks your resources. Patience bolsters them. Your HR department and bottom line will thank you, too.