When Eric Arnold, the CEO of Planswell, a Canada-based financial services company, met with a job candidate, he realized he had asked a question that could land him in hot water as an employer.
He asked if the applicant had any kids.
The reason why he forgot may just restore your faith that there are still good bosses out there who are understanding of working parent employees.
On LinkedIn, Eric succinctly described how the whole scene played out.
"You can't ask if a candidate has kids. I forgot that during an interview ... They paused, gave a weird look and said 'no.' I forget people discriminate against parents."
He continued by explaining that his team has 15 kids, and four of them are his, meaning he too is a working parent. "We might show up after 9 a.m. drop off. We often leave at 5 for dinner. We might run if school calls ... But we do amazing work in between."
Yup, this dad gets it. Because he's lived it.
His last line is the perfect mantra for parents struggling with work-life balance.
"We don't succeed despite our families ... We succeed because of them."
Eric's wise words have received much praise from the LinkedIn community, racking up almost 50,000 likes in just one day.
In the comments section, many shared their take on how the CEO approached the situation.
One user felt that at the end of the day, performance, not family status, is what matters. "I've hired a lot of people over the years, and had to let a few go for performance issues. Anyone who assumes that people with kids work less, or produce less quality, than people without kids, or vice versa, is just dumb. Everybody has their own combination of work ethic, motivation, integrity, responsibility, accountability and loyalty. Everybody is unique. Do yourself a favor as an employer/manager/mentor and treat them as such."
Another commented on why flexibility has to be part of the equation, writing: "I would hope that we could also recognize the changing shape of families, like parents with childcare arrangements or single parents. Many companies ignore these and expect 9-5 from everyone, which isn't always possible. If companies provide enough flexibility for parents to sustain their childcare responsibilities, in return employees put in that extra effort in to ensure that their not being available doesn't impact their role or targeted outcome. It's a simple formula."
Others, meanwhile, reminded people why employers still shouldn't be asking candidates if they have kids—to protect women, in particular, from being discriminated against (since not all employers have the best intentions when asking such a question). One user mentioned how asking a female candidate if she has children can be seen as "completely different" from asking a male candidate the same thing. Commented another person on LinkedIn, "At one time, women were vilified for leaving their children in someone else's care. Or, if they got pregnant, they were immediately fired. I would sincerely like to believe that the need for that law is no longer needed, but I don't think that's the case."
A couple individuals on LinkedIn discussed how men are rarely asked if they have kids in job interviews, and that discrimination against women goes beyond just the interview. Wrote one person on LinkedIn, "Even when a woman is adamantly against having children herself, she is routinely discriminated against because of the possibility that she might, one day, change her mind. Doctors prevent her from getting her tubes tied. Employers don't pay her as much and are more quick to let her go and less likely to give her a raise (and in general invest in her), because she might want to have kids some day in the future. Also, the very fact that mothers are more likely to take time off is itself discriminatory. There's zero reason in a two-parent household for the mother to disproportionately take on that burden. Yet society expects it of her."
In an ideal world, it would be OK for employers to ask about family and applicants wouldn't be penalized for their family status, but unfortunately, not all companies have CEOs who get it. One thing's for sure: Eric sounds like one cool boss.