I went back to work a few weeks ago, and after having an epic freakout about what it all meant I decided to just go with it and hope for the best. My company changed locations, grew a fuckton, restructured its management and changed a lot. Needless to say that coming in after a year and essentially being thrown to the wolves made for an interesting adjustment period.
My favourite thing is that absolutely everything I hated about my job and was not looking forward to doing again are the things that I do not do anymore. I’m doing day shifts again, I’m not in the queue taking messages on behalf of the agents anymore, I’m not handling the inbox in which all their emails come in, I don’t handle client feedback. All the things that made my brain bleed. Now I do the typical reception stuff along with assisting the Revenue Manager, our Operations Manager, and our Office Manager…and they feel like more important jobs. Not to mention the fact that I’ll be going back to school in the winter for Human Resources and I am being fully supported for that at work. I always loved the company I worked for, but I’m at that awesome place where I also love my job.
Thing is, I don’t think any of this support so soon after a maternity leave would happen if it weren’t for the fact that my corporate environment is pro woman.
The structure of my company, now that I am really looking at it, is nothing short of amazing. Those that fill the positions of Operations, Human Resources, Training, Upper Management and greater seniority are all woman. Then there’s the most amazing person up top.
The CEO of the company is an amazing woman. She really has devoted the last 10 years to this company. She has a lot of things to show for and is not afraid to flaunt it in the face of a culture that demands that our women be demure, modest and grateful for any grain of success. She can also be ruthless when needed and is a fucking BOSS. When a lot of corporate culture would frown upon that with women, maybe even call her a “bitch” or a “ballbuster”, she makes like a honey badger and doesn’t give a shit. I admire her so much for that.
There is also no fooling around when it comes to harassment and hostile coworkers. I will never forget this one guy who worked there who was a fucking douchebag. He already treated his female coworkers like they knew less than him, including female superiors, but would be an angel with the few men that work there. We all just kinda rolled out eyes and left it alone because at least at the time we has doing his job. However, when he started getting verbally abusive and pawning his work off on his coworkers he liked to look down on in a threatening manner, the women told her that he was scaring them and that we weren’t feeling safe with him working there…..he was immediately fired. No pussy footing around it, no disciplinary “now don’t do this again”, no side talk with one of the boys reminding him that “women are sensitive”……immediately fired. There have been a few men who worked there and were appropriately disciplined for making the women feel uncomfortable. The comfort of her employees, especially the women, always comes first. Woe betide the man who ever wants to dip into the sexual harassment pool, because I’m pretty sure that shit would be taken care of quickly in a fierce fashion.
She is also a very hands on aunt to two kids and has a great deal of empathy when it comes to child rearing and parental needs. She gets it. The mothers (and fathers) who work at the company are not in fear of losing their jobs because we don’t get dinged when we have to take time off to attend to our kids. If we need to run out because daycare is being stupid? No problem. Going on mat leave? We’ll make sure your benefits are reinstated the second you get back and we’ll miss you. Coming back from mat leave? You’re not going to be treated like a pariah for daring to reproduce.
That last one is especially important. So many companies are already wary of hiring women because of the possibility of maternity leave. We also pay the price by being paid less than our childfree sisters. It’s also pretty common to be treated differently when you come back from maternity leave. While you’re guaranteed the same wage, a lot of places will completely change your position…and some places will outright try to push you out….just because you had a baby. This is not so where I work.
Even more amazing is something that women get lambasted for in the world of corporations. She is fully in touch with her employees, never dismissing the women as “over emotional”. Her open door and personal touch with employees no matter what position they fill. She has the world’s most comfortable couch that you can cry on that always comes with some great perspective and an encouraging word. There is no other person at that workplace that wants to see the employees succeed more than she does, and it’s not just out of lining the pockets. When the company succeeds, the employees get richly rewarded and treated like they are truly a part of the place. There is always gratitude, encouragement and reward for hard work. There is no Old Boys’ Club, only a unified workforce.
What results is an environment where women thrive. They are highly successful, they are promoted because they can back up the skills they earned from not being pushed down, they are supported, and they are treated like people. I am no longer in fear of my place at this company. I not only embrace the chances I am getting and the mentorship that will be coming to me with the HR training…but I will forever revel in the fact that I am quite possibly in one of the most feminist environments I could possibly ask for.
So here’s to you, CEO. You may never read this because I’m pretty sure that you don’t hang out on the feminist blogosphere, but you have made the company a safe place for us. I am eternally grateful that you hired me and I raise a glass of red wine to you. My respect for you could not be any higher, and you are the best boss ever.
Corporations? Take note. This is what a woman friendly workplace looks like.