Natalie Walters isn’t the first female who has apologized after telling me she’s pregnant and will miss work. “I’ll be out during sweeps (one of the busiest times of the year in television news). I know the timing is bad,” she said.
Why in the world would someone have to apologize for something so special? The truth is — we (managers) have to start by blaming ourselves. I have to start by blaming myself.
Real talk: as a young manager, I probably looked at maternity leave as an inconvenience. My body language probably displayed that. Too often, I viewed employees as pieces to a puzzle. If one was going to be missing, what was I going to do?
With a few more years of experience under my belt (and a little more life lived), I look at pregnancy and maternity leave for what it is — an incredible opportunity for someone on our team to grow their family.
As an adoptive father, that’s even more true.
It’s critical we communicate that joy the moment we hear it — instead of focusing on any short-term complications leave might create in the office. We need to be confident enough to know our work family will figure things out, fill in the gaps, and proudly support their peer.
It’s great to have Natalie back from leave today. I’m thankful to her fellow meteorologists who picked up extra shifts and put in additional time. They did it with pride. No apology needed.
Hopefully, we’ll reach a day where women like Natalie don’t feel like they have to say sorry.
Until then, we have some work to do…