Climbing the corporate ladder is challenging in and of itself, but as a working mom, it can sometimes feel impossible. It’s pretty incredible that even today, so many companies have a culture where arbitrary time spent at the office is lauded over results. Even if you can deliver the same (or better) results in less time, there are so many organizations, mine included, where you’ll butt up against the glass ceiling until and unless you meet the unspoken requirement of staying after 6:00pm (or 7:00 or 9:00). Still, even when it’s impossible to put in the face time at the office that others do, there are ways to “prove yourself” other than sheer hours. Read on for a few ways to stand out that don’t involve scrambling to find someone to pick up your kids before daycare closes.
Although special projects sometimes do require additional hours in the office, these are a nice way to show your supervisors that you’re willing to go above and beyond the job description. Being a team player and taking on a special project, whether that’s onboarding a new employee, tackling a data cleanup, or managing a unique client, shows that you are committed to the overall success of the company.
The plus side to special projects is that even if they require some additional face time, there is usually a clear timeline where you might be able to work out kid coverage for a week or two.
Industry Association Participation
Most industries have professional associations, and events usually occur during business hours. Offering to become active in your industry’s association, represent your company, and make valuable connections on behalf of your organization is a tangible value add to the business. Even a quarterly happy hour or breakfast event can usually be worked into the schedule when it is known in advance. If you can become well known in your industry’s association, speak on panels, and become acquainted with powerful people in the industry, you’ve opened invaluable doors for your company, and that doesn’t go unnoticed.
Make Up for Flexibility
Part of being a working parent means asking for a little (or a lot) of flexibility. Make up for that by showing up in other ways so people know you’re committed. Answer a few emails after hours when you have to leave early. If you’re working from home, be sure you’re online and available to people so they know it’s not a free PTO day. We are all human, whether we have children or not, and sometimes we require flexibility. But showing that you don’t take it for granted and that you’re reasonably available can go a long way.
Find a New Job
The reality is, corporate America is mostly still unsuited for a modern working parent, and it sometimes feels like you could go to the ends of the earth for them and still not get ahead by virtue of the fact that you’re a mom. Don’t go nuts trying to prove yourself. There are companies out there that value your results without an arbitrary number of hours required to sit present in the office. If you’ve done everything you can to show your commitment and effort to no avail, contact that recruiter friend and start looking for a place that truly values you, working mother and all.