When I was looking for work 4 years ago I applied for full time roles and then asked for 4 days once I was pretty certain I was getting the role.
At the time I had a two and half year old and a one year old.
My asking for 4 days pissed off 3/4 of the people involved. I was offered 2 jobs. The recruitment consultant for one role was clearly uncomfortable with my request. When I told him what I was going to ask for, he said he had never known someone ask for this . The Sales Director for that same role said that if I absolutely had to I could do the job in 4 days but he didn’t think it would be the right thing for the role.
The other company (my current one) was divided. The Sales Director didn’t want me, the Commercial Director did. Luckily the Sales Director was overriden and I got the role and learned that there were a small handful of other women who had set the precedent for me. I didn’t know about this division between the Sales Director and the Commercial Director until the Sales guy left under a cloud but it explained why he had been so obstructive with me as my manager.
Now, a little over 4 years on, I find myself in the same position except I have 4 kids, aged 6 and half, 5, and 2 year old twins. While I know that the law states that you can’t ask if you have children, my experience is that doesn’t apply to recruiters. I interviewed with a recruiter a few weeks ago and felt like I was lying when I referred to doing the school run for my kids and a few minutes into the converation blurted out that I needed to be completely open and told her about the twins (which explained my resistance to taking a role a 2 hour drive away). Despite her being so positive about my skill set she never did text me her email address so I could email her my CV. Coincidence?
A couple of nights ago I had an informal chat with an acquaintance about a company I was interested in. She’s putting me in touch with them with a view to ‘having a coffee’ ( I get the feeling there’s going to be a lot of those) and advised me to ‘hold’ the 4 kids bombshell until further down the line. But you know when you are told not to do something, it becomes a compulsion. I feel like I’m going to have ‘I have 4 kids‘ flashing inside my brain during these chats.
When I posed the question “Can you be a Sales Director on 4 days a week?” in March 2018 the advice I had from the Harvard Business Review ‘Women in Work’ podcast team was to “interview the interviewer” but what I am realising is that the pot of suitable roles becomes a hell of a lot smaller when I limit travel time (45 mins max each way) and even smaller when I consider only companies that are flexible, progressive and promoters of women in the workplace.
So is it surprising that there are so few women in leadership roles? How long is it going to take me to find the elusive right role? Am I going to have to wait until my kids leave home – another 15 years?!