As businesses continue to embrace protocols and procedures that empower professionals to be their full, authentic selves in the workplace, many employees are still uncomfortable discussing sensitive accommodation questions should they embark on an alternative path to parenthood.
“Forward-thinking businesses want their employees to succeed in all areas of life, including family planning, and will adjust as necessary to be a positive part of that process,” said Elaine L. Fitch, Managing Partner of employment law firm, KCNF. “Legal protections for both employer and employee are already in place to move the conversation about impending parenthood forward, but it can still be tricky to talk through the practical needs of the business and the personal needs of the employee in a sensitive manner. The last thing anyone wants is to be intrusive.”
During a recent interview with Amanda Kersey for HBR’s Women at Work, Fitch offered her recommendations on how best to begin the official discussion and navigate subsequent inquiries. Additional insight was provided by Serena Sohrab and Nada Basir, authors of Employers, It’s Time to Talk About Infertility, and Danna Greenberg, a Babson College management professor and co-author of Maternal Optimism: Forging Positive Paths through Work and Motherhood.
Questions addressed include:
- Should you tell your employer what is going on?
- How do you balance the time commitment of infertility treatment, the side effects of the medications, and work responsibilities?
- How do you handle the irregularity of clinic appointments?
- What should you do if you don’t want to discuss the status of the treatment?
- How do you politely communicate boundaries but still stay transparent enough to manage work obligations?
To view the answers to these questions and more, please read the full HBR Women at Work article.
Elaine L. Fitch is a fierce advocate for civil rights in the workplace. She has spent her career fighting for federal and private sector employees confronted with a variety of issues including security clearance matters, disability issues, including failure to accommodate, all types of discrimination and harassment, and federal disciplinary matters.