Sheryl Sandberg thinks that all managers should tell their employees that they would like to talk about their future childbearing plans so that it creates a better working environment and possibly retain valuable employees after they become mothers:
What has happened, she argues, is that a well-intentioned, necessary protection on privacy has become one more way that women are sabotaged at work. In the same way that heightened sensitivity about harassment and scandal has led male managers to think twice before mentoring a female employee, lest things be misunderstood (64 percent of men who are VPs and above told the Center for Life Work Policy that they hesitate to meet one-on-one with more junior women), the belief that any talk about pregnancy is forbidden has left women without guidance, answers and support.
"There are very good reasons why people don't talk about this in the office," Sandberg said in a telephone interview today. "For too long women were afraid it would be held against them if they were pregnant or even thinking of having children -- afraid that someone was going to write us off, or start giving the good projects to someone else." And managers, she says, "didn't want to be seen as holding this against women." But the "unintended consequences of well intentioned actions," she says, are that "we don't help women enough. We don't acknowledge that this is complicated and help them plan for it."
Or, as Joseph M. Yaffe of the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom wrote when Sandberg began to raise this issue last spring: “Does the desire to avoid doing the 'wrong' thing deter managers and supervisors from doing the 'right' thing to support their valued colleagues?”
Do you think that this could become the norm in the near future?