My laptop has died. It decided to commit suicide the day before my end of quarter presentation at EU HQ in London. Like a lot of people I hate my job. Like a lot of people I lack the gumption to leave it. People say, you’ve only got one life Birdie so follow your passion. Well fuck that philosophy for a game of cowboys. I have no passion. There, I’ve said it. It feels liberating to expect less from life.
The best thing about my job is that I am the only employee in Ireland. I work in a glorified cupboard. From a multinational point of view, they don’t really care about me… some don’t even know I exist which suits me just fine. I’m their token presence for tax avoidance purposes. But once a month I have to fly to the London office which I always dread. It’s tough to talk corporate. The day before I have to brush up on my arsenal of the following; pivot, iterate, empower, move the needle, our north star, lots of moving parts, scaleable, ecosystem, leverage, drill down, take offline, synergy, punt, low hanging fruit and awareness.
I’m part of the Ireland & UK team. Ireland has the Euro, the UK doesn’t. Ireland is in the EU, the UK… well they want to revive the good old days of the Empire. Interestingly the multinational still thinks Ireland is part of the UK… “but you guys are so close together and you both speak English!” Anyhow, I digress, let’s get back to the point of this blog, pregnancy!
Herself lent me her laptop to use for the presentation. I stood in front of my boss, the founder, (who flew in from New York that morning) and my three colleagues. Essentially a room full of sycophants to the founder. Part of my report included an idea to create a promotional video, “so that we can hit Q3 targets. The ROI will be a 12% increase in top of the funnel leads.” I completely made that number up but they nodded because we all secretly know that we make the numbers up to impress the founder.
“Wow Birdie, this all sounds super exciting,” gushed the founder.
“Absolutely,” said my boss, “we should roll it out nationwide.” His nation includes Ireland.
“Totally,” smiled the three backstabbers that were jealous of the attention I was getting.
“Do you have a sample video that you want to base the video on?” I didn’t but there was no way I was going to say that to the twenty-five year old founder.
“Sure!” I thought of a video and went to type it into YouTube. The room mumbled behind my back, it was a sound that was not positive. I looked up at the flat screen TV. Displayed above me was a list of recommended videos. “How to get pregnant.” “How to stay pregnant.” “Improving your fertility.” “Producing super sperm.” “Are your eggs fried?” A viewing history that revealed too much about herself. I decided to “power through” and ignore the commotion behind me. I played the video.
The video won them back to my greatness. After it ended it went straight into an audio called, “Implantation Support.” I furiously punched the stop button but it ignored me. A calm Irish man started speaking over wind instruments, “the strengths in you, your fertile body. Those fertile days grow as the days go by. Find the resources within you that move life forward.” I slammed the laptop shut which made everyone jump. The three backstabbers sniggered as they smelled a new advantage over me. The wheels in my boss’ head started to spin slowly, I could see his confusion. He muttered to himself, “but I thought she was a lesbian.”
The founder was more brash, “so what’s the maternity leave like in the UK?”
“6 months,” shouted the three with glee.
“What?! Is that paid?” They shook their heads.
“Oh thank fuck!”
“But you will need to find a replacement,” added one of the three as she sneered at me.
“I’m not pregnant!” But no one believed me at this point. In that moment I could see the founder plot ways to get me out.
“Of course you’re not,” the founder smiled, “I’m just curious as to what the UK policies are. I need to chat to legal.”
It’s pathetic that pregnancy is seen as an expense. It’s even more pathetic that I will only get two weeks unpaid “paternity” leave, well that’s assuming I’m not made redundant before then. For me Iceland is where it’s at. Parents get 9 months to split between the both of them and they maintain 80% of their salary.
I’ve heard too many stories of women that return from maternity leave only to find that their responsibilities are diminished or worst still your colleagues conspired to shove you out like Amazon did to Elizabeth Willet, you can read more in this 2015 NY Times article. From the same article there’s this shocking quote, “Motherhood can also be a liability. Michelle Williamson, a 41-year-old parent of three who helped build Amazon’s restaurant supply business, said her boss, Shahrul Ladue, had told her that raising children would most likely prevent her from success at a higher level because of the long hours required. Mr. Ladue, who confirmed her account, said that Ms. Williamson had been directly competing with younger colleagues with fewer commitments, so he suggested she find a less demanding job at Amazon. (Both he and Ms. Williamson left the company.) He added that he usually worked 85 or more hours a week and rarely took a vacation.” Admittedly that is an extreme case but there are some truisms in there which I’m sure some readers can identify with.
Deciding to have a child can sometimes feel like being a closeted homosexual all over again. You can’t help your need to have a child but you know your status will change once that bump shows. Pregnancy is stressful enough without having to deal with that crap!