Are You Falling into this Workplace Trap?

Women And Money, Work

August 02, 2018

An updated version of my book Women & Money will be published next month. Why return to the topic? Because 11 years later there are still plenty of women who need some help connecting to the behaviors that will help them build financial security for themselves and their families. And 11 years later there are still plenty of roadblocks in our life –at home, at work – that contribute to holding us back.

A new study reported on in the Harvard Business Review reinforces one of the themes I wrote about 11 years ago: Women’s desire to nurture and help on the job can have negative unintended consequences. The study found that women are 48% more likely than men to volunteer for a task at work. When a co-ed group was asked to volunteer for some extra office tasks, men said yes 51% of the time. Women said yes 76% of the time. And it’s not all on you. Managers –both male and female—asked women to do the extra office work 44% more than they asked men.

And this is indeed a very big problem, because the researchers found that the tasks women agree to are “non-promotable.” Basically, women take on extra work that does not help advance their careers. So you’re doing more at work, with no professional pay off.

Now you know I am never suggesting any women stop being a kind, nurturing person. But it’s time for you to take better care of yourself and your career. I want you to be more conscious of when you are asked (or volunteer) to take on extra office jobs. Whether it’s planning the office holiday party or handling a thankless administrative task that no one else wants. Maybe you say yes less. Or make it clear that you are happy to share the responsibilities as long as they are shared equally by all.

Clearly, there needs to be some serious rethinking throughout office workplaces. This is not only “your” problem to fix. Management needs to become more attuned to this issue. Systems need to be put in place to make sure all the office housekeeping is equitably distributed. But I want you to be more aware of this dynamic and consider declining more than your share of thankless office tasks.

As I discuss in Women & Money, generosity is about giving to yourself as much as you give of yourself.

Stand in your truth: limiting your “volunteer” efforts at work can leave you more time to focus on work that advances your career, gives you more time with your family, or allows you a bit more of that most precious commodity: down time, so you can recharge. That’s going to make you even more valuable at work.

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