When news of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s pregnancy broke, I tweeted that I too had been appointed to a new role when I was six months pregnant.
Two things happened immediately. A bright 20-something female radio producer tweeted back “that’s a bit fabulous Marina”, while my brilliant 20-something editor of Women’s Agenda asked me to blog about it to provide hope for women like her.
It was 15 years ago when the CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Medias Asia Pacific invited me to meet with her to discuss the editorship of ELLE Australia. Although it was my dream job at the time, I almost skipped the appointment as I was convinced she’d take one look at me and drop the idea. It was my second pregnancy, I looked like I was carrying twins, my complexion resembled Shrek and I was constantly nauseous.
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I was seven months pregnant when I started in the role and six weeks later I gave birth by caesarean section. I worked from home for almost five months via phone and fax machine, on full salary. The theory was they expected me to take full responsibility for each issue so I wasn’t really on leave. During my interview I had pointed out the elephant in the room. My soon-to-be-boss looked surprised that I had mentioned it. “If it isn’t an issue for you then it isn’t a problem for us,” she said, dismissing the subject.
Two weeks after the birth I started taking my son to the office each Friday for staff and client meetings. I recall presenting the new-look ELLE (did I mention that I redesigned the magazine in the six weeks prior to giving birth?) to one of our major advertising clients while she changed my son’s nappy.
My experience will sound like hell to some women and heaven to others. It was the perfect scenario for me. Four years earlier I climbed walls for most of the six months of my inaugural maternity leave. To be able to remain focused on the career I loved while nursing my baby was a gift.
Clearly, I was incredibly lucky to be working for a progressive company with a great team that could execute my vision without needing to be micro-managed.
Would your company be likely to hire a woman who was six months pregnant?
Marina Go is the publisher of Women’s Agenda, a new site for career-minded women that launches in August. To register for the free daily email and go into the draw for the chance to win an iPad – click here.