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HRM CA | 11 Feb 2013, 01:00 AM Agree 0
“Do you plan to have children?” Why asking a taboo question could be good for the women on your team.
  • Anna Lee Harris | 11 Feb 2013, 11:40 AM Agree 0
    I understand where she's coming from, and I like the sentiment that I could plan my career path around family plans with positive input from my managers. However, how would this ever work in the real world? As soon as my manager brought it up I would think he wanted to know whether it was worth promoting me. It would take a lot of trust (or naivete) to talk about it candidly.
    As a recruiter I would never ask, but I have mentored women (not at my own org) through planning for maternity breaks.
  • Mark Perrault | 11 Feb 2013, 12:00 PM Agree 0
    Unfortunately, 10% of hires are failures so you would be taking a huge risk by asking that question, and later needing to terminate that employee. I always assume that employees will have family issues whether its mat leave, illness or elder care. But over the course of 20 years it really doesn't impact the organization. Some of our best employees started out filling a parental leave.
    Always hire the best employee (one of my best hires was visibly pregnant)and bend over backwards to accomondate them. The organization will benefit in the long run.
  • Linda | 27 Mar 2013, 02:55 PM Agree 0
    I understand where Sheryl is coming from. However our world is not set up to be able to pose this question without coming across as discriminatory. Not all leaders think the way Sheryl does. The reality is that most top leaders would want to avoid hiring someone who is planning to have a family in the near future, hence asking the question would be complicated. Before we start asking this question, leaders need to be educated or open their mind to new possibilities. More work needs to be done to prevent decisions to be made that could be described as descriminatory. In Canada, if we ask this question to women we should be prepared to ask the question to men if they are planning to start a family as well as they can now apply for parental leave as well.
  • Jeannie McQuaid | 02 Jan 2014, 05:32 AM Agree 0
    Does someone need to explain the difference between "taboo" and "Charter Right violation"? For every employer who would ask such a question for supportive, good faith reasons, there are 10 who would be asking to hedge their bets against potential future "inconveniences" of motherhood.
  • Laura | 02 Jan 2014, 07:53 AM Agree 0
    The flipside to this is the negative stigma that comes with not wanting a family, or the personal issues that a woman may face in trying to conceive. One cannot simply presume that every woman wants or can have children. I for one, am quite content with my husband and our dogs, but in my prime child bearing years (30) it is always, (always!) presumed that because I am a woman, I must have this raging, maternal instinct-driven madness that makes me melt at the sight of a newborn, sending my uterus into a grumbling state of alarm, not unlike the protest of an empty stomach!
    No! No, I am sorry, this does not happen to all women, believe it or not!
    So, MY concern is for how others view me when I say "No, I don't want to have children."
    What kind of message does this send to you? Is that to my benefit or could it also been seen as detriment? Don't you want to know why a young woman does not want a family? What's wrong with her, you might think.
    My point is that this question is a double-edged sword and like others have noted, it has poor "real world" transferability.
  • Maxine | 06 Jan 2014, 05:38 AM Agree 0
    I read her book and the scenario was a bit different: she had just interviewed a young lady and the interview whent amazingly. At the end the young lady seemed to be holding herself back. So Sheryl asked her if she was holding herself back because she was thinking of having kids some day. The woman replied yes and Sheryl encouraged her to take the position anyway for various reasons. So its not like it was an interview question "are you planning on having kids" that would NOT ever work for the reasons some of you mentioned.
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