There is still the perception that business is a man’s world. I would maybe say that it’s a “man-style world,” i.e. women are welcome as long as they act like men. From conversations with other women who run their own businesses, I see that many feel very self-conscious about being women in what they see as “a man’s world.” Some make efforts to suppress or hide signs of femininity, and try to blend in with the men around them.
As a result, many women will also never discuss the fact they are mothers, and will even go to lengths to hide that fact. This is understandable, since people often hesitate to work with mothers since they see them as unreliable. They worry about sick days, the inability to work long hours because they have to be home for their kids, etc.
But is it really necessary to hide the fact that you are a mother? Will it negatively impact on your ability to grow your business and win clients?
I don’t think women should hide their motherhood, and I even think that hiding it could be detrimental. But I do think that there are certain steps that need to be taken in order to succeed as a working mother:
- You don’t have to volunteer the information: When meeting with potential clients, you don’t have to tell them right off the bat that you are a mother. It’s not relevant, and has nothing to do with what you are discussing, just like they aren’t telling you about their personal life. But don’t hide it. Often, once business is aside, friendly chit-chat ensues and you’ll start discussing more personal issues with the client, i.e. how long have you been doing this? where do you live? do you have kids? etc. Be confident and proud of the fact that you have kids. It shows you have a life outside of work, and believe me, you’re not the only one.
- Always remain professional: It’s nice that you have kids, and the client may even think so too. But at the end of the day, the work has to get done. No one cares if your kid is sick or has a class party. If you want to be a working mother, you need to figure out ways to make sure that you have your bases covered for any eventualities. Of course, there are some parental situations that simply can’t be overcome, but your clients will generally understand in those cases – they’re human beings too! So if you want to go to that class party (and you should!) make sure to work overtime the day before so that you can free up that time.
- Be confident in your abilities: If you are confident in your abilities, this will come across to the client and they in turn will feel confidence in their choice to hire you. If you feel self-conscious about the fact that you’re a mother, and you’re trying to hide it, this will come across.
I know a businesswoman who for years has been hiding the fact that she is a mother. She wouldn’t discuss it with clients or any business colleagues, even though she is proud of her kids. About two weeks ago she joined Facebook and opened a profile. At first she wouldn’t mention her kids or family, but after a few days she uploaded pictures of her kids to her profile. Not only did this not adversely affect her, but someone she knew found her on Facebook and contacted her about business – despite that fact that she obviously had kids!