Overheard at the end of yet another Zoom meeting last week was a manager lamenting the lack of commitment of some of their virtual workers. The evidence for this? Employees who were not on call to requests and not available for meetings at all times of the working day. There was no discussion about output, productivity, creativity, problem solving, leadership, KPI’s or the myriad other ways that one might measure performance.
It got me thinking about the ways in which working parents are being penalised now, or will be penalised in the future, for taking the hit bringing up the next generation during a pandemic. There is a real danger of differential attrition, and when we look back we may find that working parents were more likely to be furloughed, more likely to lose their jobs or more likely to see their career progression stilted compared to those who did not have parental responsibilities during the pandemic.
Instead of framing working parents as more problematic and complicated, it is worth considering how remarkable they are to manage the multiple significant roles in their life, including their work for us. We need to check in with our biases next time a working parent is unable to be in the (virtual) room and find innovative ways to recognise, acknowledge and support their work. We are lucky to have these remarkable contributors. It would be a travesty if working parents were to suffer in their careers whilst raising the next generation in such challenging times.
Let me know your thoughts on the double penalty for working parents and what steps we can take to avoid it.