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Ask Ash

16 September 19

Advice column: my manager is great about family needs, but not career needs

Dear Ash,

My line manager is really kind and sweet, and very understanding when it comes to my childcare arrangements. However, I just don’t think she is aware of my needs for career progression and seems to think that my focus is on my family now. Although I have young children, I do not think this should be something that should hold me back from my career ambitions. I have never sought to work part time and will frequently stay late in order to finish matters as I have a really understanding partner. Despite this, my manager seems to always comment that I need to go home to my children. I have never heard her say this to my male colleagues who also have young families. I understand that there is no malice behind the comments, but I am nevertheless becoming very frustrated by the situation.

Ash replies:

Your manager seems to be essentially killing you with kindness! Although her intention may not be to undermine you, it is clear that her actions are potentially impacting on your ability to progress at work.

I suggest that you look to address the issue directly with her in a meeting. Make clear that you really appreciate her concern about your family commitments, but that doing well at work is also important to you. Try to outline your key career goals and discuss how best you can try to meet these without compromising your family life.

Flexibility at work is important for working parents in order to ensure a good work-life balance. However, seeking such flexibility can sometimes result in a negative assumption being made about a person’s commitment to their career. 

The recent resignation by a prominent Scottish parliamentarian for family reasons continues to illustrate the continuing pressures that parents, often women, experience when trying to juggle family and work commitments. You are fortunate to have an understanding manager, but nevertheless it is important to ensure that the flexibility you are offered is not provided at the cost of your career aspirations.

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and other legal professionals, which can be put to her via the editor: peter@connectcommunications.co.uk, or mail to Suite 6b, 1 Carmichael Place, Edinburgh EH6 5PH. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team. For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, head of admissions on 0131 476 8162, or by email: KatieWood@lawscot.org.uk

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