I think it is fair to say that the Big Meeting with Bossman was not an unqualified success and I’ve spent a few days off licking my wounds and taking some time to think.
It had been rather built up in my mind – this was going to be The Moment when I’d find out how the whole flexible working thing would work. It would be the moment when this large firm that prides itself on its diversity and family friendliness would show its true colours and let me find a way to get back to a place where work and life felt a bit more in balance.
The good news was that work wise I’m doing ok. That my abilities are not in doubt and that I can still do the job. Which is good.
Trouble was that the negative feedback was that Bossman thought that I’d been a bit miserable recently. That I’d been unhappy. He’d even been surprised that someone had come up to him and asked if I was ok, that they thought I might be unhappy.
And the solution to this was to not focus on how to deal with the underlying issues that might be making me unhappy but to suggest that I just needed to be better at being jolly.
And then we moved onto my little paper I’d written for him setting out the case for flexible working. Setting out how I thought I could make it work and how I thought I could make it work for them.
Basically where we got to is that he doesn’t think it’ll work in our part of the business, I could consider moving sideways into a non-client job which is what they usually do and perhaps we could have a chat with the only lady he knows who does it and see (incidentally she has a full time house husband). But really he’d consider giving it a trial perhaps but he’s far from convinced. But it might be worth exploring because he does have someone else in the team who might want flexible working in the future and she’s a good egg that they want to keep…
Oh and if I do this it will impact my ability to get promoted. So not only am I miserable, I’m now difficult and about to shoot my career in the foot.
So we are no further forward.
It doesn’t seem like this is a firm that are willing to follow through their grand statements about diversity and how they want to nurture women in senior roles and how flexibility and different working patterns are to be encouraged to enable them to keep good people.
After a few days away I’ve at least moved on from my immediate knee jerk reaction to burst into tears and tell them where to stuff their job.
Trouble is that I’m not sure what to do now.
Do I stay or do I go? And if I go what else can I do, where else can I work? If I stay do I really want to go through all of this and can I make it work?