In some companies it’s getting better, I think perhaps it’s more a psychological thing, rather than deliberate negligence but I am talking about forgetting people that are not physically present. Many of us work offsite once in a while, be it from home or from another company location. And while we are away it can be as if we no longer exist.

I heard an interesting case this week of a midwife called Jane. Jane had gained some considerable experience and built up a good reputation among her peers and bosses. However, while she was on pregnancy leave, her immediate boss was moved to another department and a vacancy fell open for departmental manager. Normally she would have automatically been considered for the position. So when Jane returned to work a couple of months later, you can imagine that she was upset to find a much more junior person had been appointed as her manager.

Jane checked with HR. They told her that they didn’t know she was interested in the position (they didn’t think to ask and she didn’t know). Her senior managers said that they needed someone immediately. However, ironically, when Jane’s more junior manager went on pregnancy leave they gave Jane the role of temporary manager. Tomorrow Jane’s time as interim manager will end. While the more junior manager was away, Jane made some important improvements that her team sees the benefit of. She has also created some new guidelines for the training of incoming junior staff that will now be deployed across the hospital. Everyone is delighted with the result.

Tomorrow, Jane’s boss will return to her job as manager. No doubt she will be upset about some of the changes that Jane has put in place while she was away and no doubt it will be very difficult for Jane to simply stand back again into her previous role. The question is, why didn’t the HR department and Jane’s bosses invite Jane for an interview when the original vacancy came up, when she was on pregnancy leave?  They could have easily found a temporary manager to fill the short time before she came back, just like they have had to do, less than a year later with the person they chose in Jane’s absence.

It is stories like these that not only, under pin the severe difficulty that women have in building careers on a parity with men, they also clearly demonstrate that somehow we need to find a way of overcoming ‘out of sight, out of mind’, in the work place.

Have a good week,