Sujata was excited to return to work after a long six months of maternity leave. The post-pregnancy days had been incredibly difficult for her, grounding her for so long.
She was proud that she could work until the day she went under the scissors. Sitting outside the operation theatre waiting to go inside, she took calls from the office enthusiastically. Yes, she had to get a C section done.
It was the first time she had any surgery; her body had never faced such a kind of shock. Hence, it took time for her body to heal; the pain in the abdomen was persistent for months together. She took three whole months to stand straight on her feet. Plus, the mind was going bonkers with the hormonal changes, and sleepless nights!
However, all this didn’t deter her from involving herself in work. She loved participating in meetings, taking up work she could do from home and completing her deliverables excitedly. It distracted her for good, allowing her to focus on her ambitions instead of her healing body. Being involved in work kept her sane. Otherwise, she would’ve gone crazy and made her family members crazy, too!
Finally, after a long wait, she was returning to work. She was excited precisely the way when she went to work for the first time after the MBA graduation. Nervous energy was flowing through her body.
She had been missing the most productive hours of her days, her cabin, the hustle-bustle of the office floor, the chit chats with friends, the laughs, everything about her work. She loved her job and her company.
Some of her colleagues already knew she was returning today. As she entered the office lobby, they popped out of nowhere with a bouquet and gave her a warm hug. After the mandatory attendance, they took her for a round around the office.
Many things had changed in her absence. Their boss had left the organization to pursue her other passions, and she was replaced with a new boss. The team structure had changed; the company policies had changed. A few new people had joined the organization etc.
Sujata was super happy to come back. She realized if she continued to go to work and kept herself engaged, it would heal both her body and mind faster.
When she went to her cabin, she was surprised to see it being occupied. The office assistant informed her that the belongings she had left behind were packed in a carton box and was with HR. She had an unpleasant feeling about this. “No one even told me they were giving my cabin to someone else!” She wondered.
Immediately, she went to meet HR. The HR asked her to wait in the adjoining conference room while he was finishing some errands. She remained there in anticipation for 10 mins before he appeared.
After the customary welcome, she asked why her cabin was given to someone else, and what happened to her belongings? That’s when she received another shocker!
This time an official letter, signed by her new boss. It was her new boss who decided to give away her cabin because she wasn’t holding the same rank anymore. She was pushed down to an individual contributor, from being a manager who led multiple teams.
Sujata didn’t quite understand the letter. She didn’t believe her eyes! She read it once again to confirm it.
Baffled, she demanded an explanation. The was neither aware nor involved in this decision, which directly affected her career and growth. The HR said that her boss felt, now that she had a baby, she must be concentrating on her home more than work, hence decided to demote her.
She was devastated. Here she was all excited to return to work, contribute, get back her work life on track, and run fast towards her dreams and ambitions. And her dreams were being crushed without even her knowledge based on someone’s assumptions.
Was it fair?
Seeking an explanation from her new boss, Sujata realized there was no concrete reason behind this arbitrary decision. It was the assumption that her boss had made based on her narrow world view, and Sujata became a victim of her whimsical action.
After this incident, Sujata changed.
The person who genuinely loved her work and company became detached. She would come every day, do her job, and go. As if someone had sucked away her passion for the profession. Sujata became a robot, who only did her job stone-faced without any love to remain in the company because she needed the money.
Lesson from this:
DON’T MAKE DECISIONS ON BEHALF OF YOUR WOMEN LEADERS, THEY HAVE A MIND OF THEIR OWN. ALLOW THEM TO DECIDE WHAT’S RIGHT FOR THEM.
Had the HR of the organization and her boss didn’t have a mentality like this, and they allowed her to settle herself back to work naturally, the result would’ve been quite different. Because of their narrow mindset and irresponsible actions, they lost a passionate leader like Sujata.
Have you been through any similar situations like this or any other where you felt your views were not respected? Feel free to comment below or write to me at email@example.com. I would love to hear your story.
This is the fourth story in the 100 ways to empower women leaders series. You can read the other stories here.
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