To feel insulted?(36 Posts)
I've just returned to work after maternity leave, at a relatively junior level in a professional services firm. I'm the only one in the team at my rank or below with a child. Expectations are that you will stay as long as necessary to get the job done, usually 7pm most days and then up to midnight or later at deadlines. I will now be leaving at 5pm to get LO from nursery, dinner/bath/bed, picking up again after he's asleep. Obviously this will limit my professional growth in some ways, but that's a necessity to see my child every evening and not an unreasonable choice. We're all about flexible working (supposedly), senior team seem supportive, I'm excited to be back and give it a good go.
Today a colleague at my rank suggested I could have a lower charge-out rate (wouldn't affect my salary) to encourage people to staff me on their projects, otherwise they would probably not want me due to my commitment. Even though in this hypothetical scenario, I'm still picking up later for the same 2hs of work as my team who stay til 7pm.
Colleague viewed it as positive discrimination to level the playing field. I feel insulted that now that I'm a parent, he thinks I should literally be labelled as being worth less than my colleagues. What say you, wise jury of MN?
How are they allowed to even suggest that ? I might be tempted to confirm your understanding of conversation by email & then take it up with HR !
positive discrimination is generally illegal.
I certainly think the suggestion is inappropriate for lots of reasons. Imagine how a colleague would feel - "captain is less valuable than me, you can tell from her charge out rate, but she's still paid the same!"
Sorry, to be clear, it was just in conversation about balancing the demands of the job. I don't want to get them in trouble, especially because they genuinely seemed to want to "help" (I wasn't saying I needed help!). But it was pretty hurtful and revealing of their attitude, from someone I consider(ed) a friend.
Professional services here. Your colleague is batshit and clearly doesn't understand how business works.
Would you mind elaborating a bit please, mynameiscalypso? Obviously I think so too, but it's nice to feel vindicated!
Sounds like something your colleague said in ignorance as general chit chat. I don’t think it was meant as an insult, he probably genuinely thought he was making a helpful suggestion. It sounds like he said it spur of the moment, hadn’t thought it through and also that he’s possibly a bit dim. You should have just set him straight by saying you’re worth the same as everyone else at your level.
I don’t view it as insulting if it doesn’t affect your salary although realistically, it will affect future salary increases.
Realistically, if your colleagues work more hours at the same rate as you, eventually your position will be affected because you will be billing less and, if you’re putting in fewer hours, your file/project turnover will be slower.
I feel insulted that now that I'm a parent, he thinks I should literally be labelled as being worth less than my colleagues
It has nothing to do with you ‘being a parent’ and everything to with you not being seen to be putting in the same hours as everyone else. Make sure everyone knows you’re working at home later on. However, it’s still not as appealing to others to book you onto projects because you won’t be in the office as much as others, do doing impromptu meetings etc isn’t as easy to arrange.
I worked as a consultant and charged myself out at day rates. A day tended to mean 8 hours but like you it could sometimes mean a lot more.
I do not believe that I could have charged the same premium rates if my days ended at 5pm for any reason. That was just the business reality, though that was self-employment with all the inherent obligations.
When I was in professional firms, your charge-out rate was roughly 3x your salary, so I can't see them lowering your rate.
I think you need to demonstrate you will be reliable, meet deadlines and work hard. If you establish that reputation, then you should be fine. If you take multiple days off on a regular basis, then you'll be seen as flaky, unreliable and people won't want you on their projects if they feel they will have to carry you.
You need to work out now how your partner will assist with looking after your child when it inevitably gets sick, has to be picked up from care urgently etc.
Oh yes, I absolutely realise that I need to be reliable, efficient, and pull my weight within the project team. For me, that's the same regardless of what hours I'm physically in the office. As for DH and childcare, we'll have to see- he works in consulting and is often abroad Mon-Thurs so naturally more of the midweek burden will fall onto me.
During my conversation with my colleague, I could see where he was coming from but it seemed a bit rich to start imagining issues with my resourcing and how much people want to work with me, when I'm literally just back and haven't yet had a single related issue. I felt it belied his- and others?- true opinion on the value of what I've been doing with my life lately. Probably I'm being over sensitive and U...
I also don't think this is about you being a parent. And I think thr same would apply to anyone else who had to leave "early" versus the others, for whatever reason, be it a desire to go to the gym, cook dinner, walk the dog or pick up your kids. The reason is irrelevant, what's relevant is you will be doing less than others.
So yes, I think you're unreasonable to be insulted. He was trying to come up with a solution to help you, with something that may be problematic. Why would you charge the same, if you work less hours?
Also professional services here. He is bonkers, but...
I do think you will struggle with leaving at 5pm every day, even with checking back in later unfortunately.
I am/was non client facing but even I couldn't have successfully managed this and maintained a career in PS (a job yes but career no)
Could you reconsider childcare, a nanny for example? We had a nanny share and it worked out at the same price as nursery but offered much more flexibility.
(The charge out code is an internal measure, essentially, so it wouldn't affect the client's fee but the partner would make a better profit margin on that project. We still do the work as required for the hours necessary, for the set agreed fee- and the internal budgeting reflects on the partners, basically.)
Isn't what's unreasonable the desire to work twenty percent less, for whatever reason, but charge the same as working twenty percent more?
If you were working the same and he suggested it, then yes clearly it would be because you're a parent, and it would be offensive. But that's not the case here. You wish to work twenty percent less. And charge the same. This is where he is telling you it may be worth adding an incentive to off set that.
I really fail to see how he is the unreasonable one and you're not. Unless I'm missing something?
Where's the part where I'm working 20% less? If I'm in the office at 9 like my colleagues, and work with them til 5pm then pick up after baby is asleep for 2hs- whereas they've stayed in the office til 7pm and then clocked off... It's the same number of hours. We don't have different rates for people performing at different levels in grade- so I could be far more efficient than my colleague and that wouldn't affect my rate.
I agree that efficiency and reputation affect staffing- but I'm literally just back. There's no project yet and no reputation either way! Obviously this will all be tested once work is properly underway, and I agree with a pp about building a career vs hanging onto a job, but that's all part of a wider picture. I'm upset specifically about the conversation and assumption I require discrimination to manage my role.
However, I don't want to feel cross with my friend, I agree that he was probably trying to be helpful and supportive and objective, and IWBU to take it all so personally. I think that makes me a very reasonable AIBU poster
I would be changing jobs to one that finishes at a sensible time.
I don't get this worshipping at the altar of long hours.
I am a finance director, and have managed my career to date including leaving the office at 5:30 and not giving it a thought until the next day.
You never get the time back, and if you were to die whilst working, there will be someone else in your chair before your funeral.
This is indicative of a presenteeism culture. If you’re working the same hours, although being seen to leave at 5pm, whether you work for 2 hrs later on is largely irrelevant.
People still see that as leaving at 5pm imo. It’s very depressing, but happened to me in banking, when I was the only female on the team, didn’t matter that I’d been in 1.5hrs before everyone else at 7.30am, everyone just remembers seeing you leaving at 5.
Actually it will look like your more productive....
Job A you billed 35 hours ... Job done...
Job B he billed 45 hours .... Job done...
How come he took 10 hours longer to do the job ...
Ok, then i misunderstood, if you're genuinely doing the extra hours at home in the evening, and you can be as productive as you are in the office ie you don't need to be there, then you're not working less and he is being unreasonable.
However are you really sure you will be able to manage that every night and perform at the same level you were previously? It seems a big ask you're putting on yourself with a young kid at home, to be working at least two hours every single night, and often more.
I can’t see the financial team agreeing to this, this is a stupid off the top of the head suggestion. I am an accountant and I would not agree to you being charged out at a lesser rate. You are there to earn money for the business. The powers that be would not be happy with this suggestion and probably apoletic would be a better word.
He’s probably talking about charge out rate for internal accounting purposes. No one ever bills the client 8h x actual charge out rate per person. My charge out rate is something crazy like £800 an hour! 😂
So like if we have interns their rate is set as zero to encourage us to use them on our jobs as they are essentially a free resource and don’t impact our internal profit metrics.
Still though, that’s an awful thing to suggest to you!
I’m honestly not sure how you will manage leaving at 5 every day though. It’s not an ideal point in your career to have children.
Sorry, I fell asleep so didn't elaborate on what was, admittedly, a slightly grumpy post!
For me, there are a couple of issues. I do get where he's coming from but it's just quite naive. Admittedly a lot will depend on whether you work on a time and materials basis or fixed fee as the considerations are slightly different.
1. Is he suggesting that your charge our rate to clients is lower? This would cause a world of pain as there is no good way to explain to clients why your rate is lower than peers and clients will inevitably just demand that everyone is charged out at the lower rate.
2. Is he suggesting that your internal rate is lower? Obviously that would improve the margin if your charge out rate remained the same but it would cause an absolute financial headache from a department accounting perspective. Plus your charge out rate is based on the cost of employing you so somewhere along the line, it won't add up (by which I mean, we have different charge out rates for regional staff vs London but that reflects a difference in pay).
More broadly though, I've definitely started to see a change in culture towards more flexibility and he view is counter to that. I should add maybe that I returned from sick leave in January on a phased return and, as part of that, I'm still only supposed to work my contracted hours with as much time as home as possible. Nobody has ever suggested that either my charge out rate should be lower or that my contribution is any different to peers and I have had zero issues getting staffed onto projects.
Problem with a company with a presenteeism culture is that however much work you do at home, some people will never acknowledge that as work. If you are not in the office, you aren't working in their mind.
He isn't your boss just on your level so take it with a pinch of salt.if he's your friend he's probably heard people saying you are less likely to get jobs finishing at 5 and wants to help.
The amount me and my friends talk about eachother and regarding me having a baby and being disabled at work, if I took that seriously I could say I was discriminated against all the time!
Are you as productive at 7-9pm at home as you would be 5-7pm in the office? This may be an unknown quantity for a start - personally I have measured this over the years and am more productive at home from 6am to 7pm then less productive after 7pm, perhaps people are assuming this of you in which case you will need to prove otherwise.
Also, meetings. Where I do consultancy work which may be similar to what you're doing in structure if not your field, it is not that uncommon for meetings, calls and oversight to happen between 4pm and 8pm, as it's often international teams or management that have to stack this stuff on top of their working day.
Is it not possible that stopping and picking up later will be seen as the inferior option genuinely? If it is seen that way, I can see you needing to prove otherwise before these assumptions dissipate, and maybe eventually falling back on child care.
I’ve come back from ML twice into a PS client-facing role and initially it is a challenge to be seen on a par with your peers who don’t have to leave at 5 for nursery or walk out of a client presentation to pick up a sick kid (thankfully very understanding boss and client)
It took time for everyone to appreciate that I got the job done just as I did when I was FT and childless. However IME flexibility goes two ways so some days I skipped out at 5 and others I had to stay until 7/8/9 pm if the job demanded it. By doing that it built up trust on both sides that I could still do my job as I had before and I could get the flexibility I needed to make family life work. I totally get your point about working the same number of hours and in most instances that’s not an issue but consider how you deal with the days when as other say you have a client call at 6, or you need to engage with others on your team who have left for the day at 7 whilst you’re just logging back on.
Are there other women in your company who have managed similar transitions? Could you get their advice and then take that back to your colleague?
I work in professional services - I imagine he was trying to be helpful but it sounds rude so ignore him! In my opinion charge out rates are very much a reflection of the quality of work you’d expect from someone per hour - so we get our in a rough position when we have secondees from other teams for example who don’t have experience in our area but are charged at a rate equivalent to their grade (which they earned in their own specialism) - you then don’t get the quality per hour that you would expect for that rate. You are in a completely different situation and so working at a different rate would be inappropriate. Just make sure you’re being efficient and realistic when agreeing deadlines etc and then do your thing!
Are there other women in your company who have managed similar transitions? Could you get their advice and then take that back to your colleague?
Their advice would be “wait until you are a senior manager or a director. Or at least a manager” And that’s a bit late to be getting that advice!
Client facing PS when you’re a junior is all about long hours, being flexible and being there as and when your senior needs/wants. Is it right? No. But I’m not sure I’d like to be the sacrificial lamb to try make the culture change.
The Ops husband isn’t even going to be living at home during the week so she will do 100% drop offs. 200% pick ups. 100% sick days. 100% night feeds.
This situation has got ‘work yourself into an early grave or a mental breakdown’ Written all over it.
What does "professional services" actually mean? So many people here work in it... I have no concept of what is involved
I wouldn't worry too much, this isn't about how much work you do its about image and perception. Your not in the office so not seen to be doing things, presenteeism. Isn't even as if those in the office actually have to be doing something positive just being there is enough. I found I wasted more time in the office than when I worked from home, tea in the tea room, chats etc all adds up.
It may matter to some clients, I have worked with a client who liked bums on seats. I didn't stay with them long as the team I was with were keen on being seen and eager to get on. Being older I wasn't bothered about getting on and was actually slightly embarrassed about the quality of work that they were passing off so quickly asked to move on.
If it becomes an issue its up to your employer to manage it. I managed a small group at one stage and we had someone (male) who had a new baby and wanted to be around for her so we found projects close by for him. It limited his prospects but he was ok with that as it gave him the family life he wanted.
@BlueSkiesLies to say that it was a bad time for OP to have children is a bit silly really, and sounds like you think that is how things should continue to be. I don't know about being a sacrificial lamb, but I absolutely think all women should be speaking up for themselves and negotiate flexible working arrangements that work for both parties.
If anyone is interested, mother Pukka has a lot to say about this issue here https://www.motherpukka.co.uk/get-flexible-working/.
I don't quite get this "internal rate" thing.
If department A charges me 'out' at £100 per hour, and shows a big profit, what happens in department B that only charges me out to the customer at £50?
To answer a few points since I last posted:
Yes, longer term I think this is probably an unsustainable lifestyle and I will look to move into something with better hours and more interesting (to me) work. But for now, the company are keen to have me back and show it "can be done", and I want to try my best to make it happen and get promoted to Manager, with the associated boost in responsibility and salary which will enable me to leave to better roles.
Yes, timing isn't amazing- I do have a mentor, among other women I can chat to, and they all had kids at Director level and/or only took 3months ML. I have a PhD so started older than my peers and didn't want to postpone starting a family much longer.
In my case professional services means due diligences for mergers and acquisitions, and related strategy work. Writing detailed graphical reports into very niche markets and forecasting growth, to guide potential investors.
My understanding is that the internal rate is matched against the fee to give a performance marker of the partner who sold the work- if you sell a big project but run it badly (too many people, at the wrong levels, taking too long to do the work) it can end up having been "not worth it" at a firmwide level.
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