CEO assigns work to my staff without telling me, vandalized posters, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. CEO assigns work to my staff without talking to me

I was recently promoted to a management position. My team’s main obstacle to success is the CEO of the company, three levels above me. No matter how clearly I set priorities, or how much I discuss them with the CEO beforehand, he continues to assign work directly to my team members without consulting me, almost daily.

This causes our priority items to fall behind, as they understandably put anything the CEO gives them ahead of my requests. I also feel undermined and useless. This is not unusual; he does this to every department, not just mine. I delicately discussed the issue with him, and it got better for a week or two before regressing again. Any ideas on how to handle this? Or is it just time to dust off the resume?

Focus on the part that’s within your control. The CEO’s behavior isn’t, but your team’s actions are. Tell your staff members that when the CEO assigns them work, they need to loop you in right away so that you (a) are aware of the request and (b) can weigh in on how to prioritize it. If you decide there are higher-priority items, you can email your CEO something like, “Jane told me you asked her for X. She’s got a client deadline on Thursday that we can’t move, so I’ve asked her to finish that up before starting on X. Let me know, though, if it’s more time-sensitive than that.”

You’ll need to use some judgment here; if the CEO is asking for something for a meeting he has tomorrow, obviously don’t bump that. But if this doesn’t solve it, then the conversation with your own boss needs to be “I’m finding we’re not able to reliably do XYZ because my team gets pulled away so often for urgent requests from the CEO,” followed by a discussion about solutions to that (more staff? reprioritizing other things? etc.).

2. Our equity posters were vandalized

I work as the equality and diversity manager of a research institute with about 350 people. Recently we’ve been running some poster campaigns bringing attention to issues like the gender pay gap and lack of representation of people of color, and we’ve had some posters be lightly vandalized. One on the gender pay gap was taken down and replaced with a jokey poster on men winning the lottery more than women and how can we address that imbalance! Another was next to a poster advertising a women-only running group and both posters had question marks and arrows pointing to the other drawn on them.

Our equality team has been divided on how to respond to this. I think it’s important to say something and I’d like our director to send an all users email saying we like to receive feedback and have many official avenues for this (including ones that can be anonymous) but we take these issues seriously and vandalism is unacceptable. Other members of the team think that we shouldn’t feed the trolls by acknowledging it at all or that this is a valuable way to get dissenting opinions. I know you are against blanket emails in general but in this case we don’t know who it is and I don’t want silence to be mistaken for condoning this behavior. What’s your advice on approaching this?

It’s pretty odd that someone on your team thinks vandalism is a valuable way to get dissenting opinions.

I think you need to address it and say it’s a hostile act to women at your company (because it is) and that it’s unacceptable. But you also should take it as a sign that at least one person employed there is very unclear on the organization’s values (and if that person is, possibly more are), and that you have some serious educating to do on things like why affinity groups for historically marginalized populations are part of equity work, not at odds with it. In other words, this is a distress signal from your culture — take it a sign of work you need to do.

3. Is my daughter taking too much time off?

My daughter has a BA and MA in Philosophy. Not surprisingly, she had a very hard time finding a job after graduate school (we supported her during her job hunt). She finally found a good job selling software packages at a start-up. I haven’t had an actual paying job for decades, and, when I did, I worked in a hospital laboratory, not sales. She started in April. In June, we had a long-planned family reunion. She brought her laptop and did some remote work. Last month she took three days to go see her 99-year-old grandmother (again she did some remote work). She has asked for and been given the week of Thanksgiving and Christmas off.

She told us she always meets her sales quotas. But that seems to me like a LOT of time off when she has only been there six months. We are desperate for her to keep this job — and if she loses it, we’ll have to support her until she finds another job. How do you know whether or not you are taking too much time off?

It depends very much on the office, but that’s not inherently too much time off. If she has the accrued PTO and her boss is approving it, it’s not something you should worry about. (I’m deliberately not saying “if those things are the case, it’s definitely fine” because it really does depend on her office. But it’s likely enough to be fine that it doesn’t make sense for you to be concerned when you don’t have any window into that.)

If there is a problem with how much time she’s taking off, her boss will probably let her know.

The bigger issue here, I suspect, is how invested you are in her keeping the job. I can understand why, if you’d be supporting her if she loses it! But she could lose it for all sorts of reasons — layoffs that have nothing to do with her performance or conduct, an unreasonable manager, work that’s not a good match for her skills, a personality clash with a coworker, and lots of other possibilities. I say that not to freak you out, but because you shouldn’t be white-knuckling your way through this. You might be better off encouraging her to save enough money that she can provide her own safety net if something does happen with the job. (Part of that might be letting her know you won’t comprise as much of that safety net as you did last time, although whether to tell her that that depends on whether your daughter would take that help for granted or not.)

4. Interviewing with a bad eczema flare-up on my face

I’m interviewing for a really interesting position with a lot of potential. I hadn’t heard from them in a couple of weeks, which was a relief as I’ve had a bad flare of eczema on my face that makes it impossible for me to wear makeup and is seriously off-putting to strangers who see me. (This time half my face swelled up alarmingly, which thankfully has since subsided. It’s hard enough to deal with when just working, let alone interacting with people, but generally it doesn’t affect the quality of my work.) I’m getting medical treatment but it takes time.

They have just gotten back to me to say the next round should be soon, and I’m nowhere near 100% healed yet. How should I handle such a visible condition? I hope it’ll be healed by then, but if my skin is raw and red when I go in for the final interview, I worry I’ll give the impression that I can’t do the job, despite my demonstrated experience and skills.

Especially as a woman, I worry whether I should I go into an interview sans makeup if I’m not healed yet. It’s not required every day in my industry, but interviews are one time we’re expected to be completely on point.

When something visible about you will be potentially alarming while you’re interviewing, the best thing to do often is to just own it. When you sit down, say something like, “Please don’t be alarmed by my face! I had a minor skin reaction, but it’s temporary and it looks much worse than it is.”

As for the makeup, if you can’t wear it then so be it. If any of your interviewers are the type to expect that look, they’ll probably figure out that it’s not an option for you right now (just like they might normally expect dress shoes but would understand you not wearing them if your foot were in a cast).

5. People ask me for favors and then never thank me

I’m relatively well known in my field and I often get emails from total strangers asking for professional advice. I’m totally happy to share my advice and I reply with a thoughtful response to whatever they’ve asked, as well as inviting them to contact me again if they have follow up questions, which again, I’m genuinely happy to answer. I don’t mind in the least spending a little time helping someone out, but it really irks me that almost NEVER does anyone reply to thank me or even acknowledge they got my email. The other time this happens is when I’m asked to speak at a conference or event and I have to decline, but usually suggest someone else I think would be a good fit for them to ask. I always feel kind of bad saying no anyway, and when the other person doesn’t even bother to send a quick “totally understand, thanks anyway!” kind of email, it makes me feel even worse.

Am I being unreasonable to think it’s rude not to even acknowledge someone you’ve asked for a favor? Especially when that person is someone you’ve contacted totally out of the blue and never even met before? At the least I feel like this is very bad email etiquette. I don’t expect some over the top effusive email gushing with gratitude, but a quick “thank you!” seems like the bare minimum.

Nope, you’re not being unreasonable. It’s rude as hell, and also very common.

It’s also really short-sighted, because if any of those people ever want something from you again, it’s very unlikely you’ll go out of your way to respond.

{ 679 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Please remember the rules of this site requires comments to be kind and focused on constructive advice to the letter-writers. Comments that don’t follow those rules will be removed without warning.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, please push hard on acknowledging it and saying it’s unacceptable. I’ve been in workplaces where someone vandalized DEI posters, management ignored the vandalism and replaced the posters (which were repeatedly defaced), and things became much worse because of their continued inaction.

    Failing to acknowledge the vandalism is going to read one of two ways to people who value DEI: (1) that the powers that be tacitly approve of the criticism and don’t actually support DEI; (2) that the powers that be don’t approve, but they somehow think this is acceptable “free speech”; or (3) that the powers that be don’t care and the posters are ineffective, token efforts to acknowledge systemic inequality in the workplace.

    On item #3, please think about publicizing or being more vocal about your DEI efforts beyond posters. It will help set the tone, and it will be more meaningful to staff who share those values.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I agree with this. Every woman and POC will be wondering which of their coworkers has enough hate to destroy stuff. And then they’ll be wondering when the hate will come for them.
      You just can’t tell if this is some bro being stupid or if it is more than that. And that’s the problem.

      1. Crivens!*

        Yup. I legitimately would not feel safe in a workplace knowing I had a co-worker with that kind of aggrieved bigotry in their head.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yes, this is very likely to have a really upsetting effect on the very people this campaign was aiming to help! I remember a time shortly after our current president was elected and I walked down the stairs at my office and randomly stuck to the bottom of the stairs above me was a single post-it note that just said “gays” crossed out in one of those circle with a line through it like on a no smoking sign. I’m not even in the targeted group and I found it extremely upsetting to know there was someone in my office building who would put that there. I can’t imagine how much more unsafe I would have felt if I were gay and I just hope that no one else saw it before I found it and threw it away.

          If I saw the vandalism you described I would definitely feel personally targeted and would probably feel suspicious of people around me, constantly wondering “are you the one who did that?” If nothing else, a mass email will let people feeling vulnerable know that you’re taking this really seriously.

      2. pleaset*

        “wondering which of their coworkers has enough hate”

        Or, in some cases, we know and letting them get away with yet another expression of bigotry is demoralizing.

          1. Moira*

            I agree that in most cases this stuff is not subtle, but it is more dangerous when it is subtle. It’s a spectrum of intolerance and it can be very difficult to spot and call out. Of course there are also cases of unconscious bias held by people who might be ignorant of the issues.

            1. Quill*

              Yes it is. Based solely on context & overtness, this is the type of guy who posts to r/redpill on his work computer, but being less obvious would not make him less dangerous.

      3. Zap R.*

        Having a little bit of experience with this kind of thing, I would be pretty worried about this. “What about male lottery winners?” and “How come women’s only fitness groups are okay?” are common Men’s Rights Activist/MGTOW talking points and those groups can be scary as hell.

    2. MassMatt*

      The kind of vandalism the OP talks about really gets me steamed, there is an attempt to mock things like the gender pay gap with these awful “jokes”. Someone went through a lot of trouble to replace that poster with the bs “lottery” poster. That someone would spend that amount of time and effort to kick down on gender equality is really disturbing. “Just kidding” stuff like this can serve as a means to test the waters and sound out how much jerks can get away with. What’s next, drawing boobs?

      This is only “valuable feedback” in that it shows your workplace really needs this and other efforts to steer away from really toxic behavior. Definitely don’t ignore what is happening, this is how toxic workplaces fester. Good luck OP!

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        Yes, there is a significant difference between drawing arrows and question marks on a poster (take the work of a moment plus a marker pen – can be done in the heat of the moment), and taking down a poster and replacing it with a jokey one (requires forethought and planning).
        The first one is akin to a thief seeing someone’s side door is open and going in and nicking a handful of jewellery that is lying about, and the second is going equiped with lockpicks, a crowbar, a hammer, etc., intent on stealing the telly, the car and anything not nailed down. In other words – there is real effort being put into the dissent here.

        That being said, I’m not a huge fan of workplace posters – I find them too similar to the all-purpose blanket email, unless they are also followed up with some additional supporting materials (team meetings / one-to-ones / Q&A sessions – with an anonymity element). This might be where OP needs to go with this – ensure the posters are supported with additional education, so there is a purpose to them beyond an expression of someone’s art.

        1. Just Elle*

          I agree about not being a huge fan of the posters. Especially gender pay inequality – I would be pretty angry if my workplace hung one up, since, you know, they have the actual power to fix that and I don’t? I’d much rather get an email about how the DEI team did a review of all salaries and found that there was inequality found in X% of cases and raises were given to fix that.

          1. Delta Delta*

            That’s sort of how I feel, too. Rather than paying people equally, management decided to… put up a poster saying they should pay people equally?

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              This may be harder to do in a ‘research institute’ like OP’s, as similar titles (Associate Professor) often have different pay based on department, tenure track, etc. Sometimes there’s not a top-level central authority who can change this universally (eg, there’s different funding sources), and usually there’s a *ton* of politics involved.

              It may also not be employees who are doing this, there may be students involved.

              It does still need to be addressed, but it’s not as simple as it is in a business.

          2. Gazebo Slayer*

            YES. I mean, if your company is serious about such initiatives and does them well, the posters are ok in addition, but otherwise it’s going to come off like those low-wage employers that give employees guides to surviving on their wages like “get another full-time job” and “go on food stamps” or put food drive boxes for their own workers in their break rooms.

          3. Too Old For This Nonsense*

            Yes! “Show, not tell”. It’s much easier to bring people on board like that.

          4. Artemesia*

            This. I had mixed feelings on this one and nowhere near the strong negative reaction most are expressing because I hate these hypocritical posters so much. The one on salaries would enrage me. Don’t post this drivel; pay people properly. Don’t post this drivel; provide promotion opportunities for women and POC. It is hard to imagine a response to discrimination more lame than putting a bunch of tendentious posters around the workplace. THE WORKPLACE where they have the power to stop the most egregious kinds of discrimination.

            1. Sally*

              This makes me appreciate my company even more. It is always clear that our values are important to leadership and 100% supported by them. And even though the training is online (not live), it’s engaging, and we also talk about the issues in team meetings. I assume that people who don’t agree with our values see that the company is not just giving lip service and self-select themselves out. I hope so because otherwise I wouldn’t feel comfortable/safe working there (as a woman & member of the LGBTQ community).

            2. Observer*

              So you are saying that a good response to failure to act meaningfully is to deny the existence of the problem?

              If someone had replaced that poster with one that mocked management for its handling of the problem I would be totally with you. But this is a whole different level of bias.

              1. Veronica*

                I think the point Artemesia is making is, the people who cause the problem (employers) are putting up posters about the problem instead of solving it… they have the power to solve it because they cause it…

            3. Sharon*

              Hanging posters let the company and the DEI Dept pat themselves on the back without making any actual changes. “See, we are so woke!” Show me the money, not the lingo, please.

          5. Quill*

            I’d feel a lot better about them if the company had added something like “here at teapot corp we will be instituting salary transparency, starting 2020, to address this inequity”

            … but also I realize that whoever is doing the equity initiative is also probably on a completely different page than whoever is crunching the salary offer numbers & unless the poster is explicitly a ‘lean in’ type that puts the onus on the worker, I’d pretty much just roll my eyes at the lip service.

            1. Emily K*

              Yes, it’s interesting that the stated goal of the poster campaigns is to “bring awareness” about pay gap issues. I come from an advocacy background and to be blunt, “raising awareness” is a key word that you’re looking for an easy way to feel like you’re doing something when you are unwilling or unable to do anything that’s actually effective. If “raising awareness” is the goal, then you need a theory of change where the only thing stopping people from taking action is that they’re not aware of the need to act – so you 1) raise awareness about the need to act, and then 2) once made aware, people act.

              What is the action the employees are supposed to take once they are made aware of the gender pay gap via these posters? Is the poster making them aware of resources available to them so they can be reassured that upper management takes the pay gap seriously and is actively working to fight it? “If you have questions about how your salary was determined, HR can provide documentation of market research into salaries for your position upon request.”

              Or is the poster alerting employees to an important deadline that requires their participation? “HR is currently conducting a salary equity review company-wide and will be contacting everyone to ensure job descriptions on file are up to date. Please return your updated job description to HR by November 8.”

              If there’s no action item or resources for the employees to take, then these posters are falling more on the side of, “Wanting to feel like we’re doing something,” than they are on the side of, “Making measurable progress towards, or maintaining, an equitable and diverse company.” If the only people in the company who have any power to do that are upper management, then a poster campaign is going to be a really ineffective way to make that change. If this DEI committee is officially sanctioned, putting together a formal report with recommendations that will go into the company’s written record in some way that they’ll be held accountable to answering is much better than putting up posters that can be easily ignored.

              1. Amy Sly*

                If there’s something actionable, do it. If there’s a program being offered to help, advertise it. If there are behaviors that need to be curtailed, discipline the offenders. But to paraphrase Maggie Thatcher, “If you have to put up posters to tell people you are diverse, equitable, and inclusive, you aren’t.”

              2. Quill*

                On nearly every issue under the sun, we are well past the “awareness” stage and unless the “awareness” campaigns are raising money (i.e. walk for cancer, etc,) they’re not actually doing anything. We need systemic solutions to systemic problems, not consumer awareness.

          6. SomebodyElse*

            I’m with you, I find it really odd that the employer is the one hanging these posters on things like pay gap.

            I mean, what’s the point? The average worker can’t control this. It seems like a very odd thing to do for this diversity team.

            Here’s my advice to the OP, stop with meaningless and misdirected propaganda and the mocking will probably stop on it’s own.

            1. Blueberry*

              I don’t agree, because the mockery wasn’t aimed at the hypocrisy of the posters but at their temerity in pointing out the problem. Or, put another way: I would have rolled my eyes at the posters, but seeing them vandalized would make me feel like at least some of my coworkers despise me for being a woman.

            2. ian*

              Maybe not exactly the same, but I recently went to a local business that had signs up about the pay gap – but in this case it was to highlight the efforts they were making to fix it (and since these were in the customer area as well, it also worked as marketing for their product)

            3. A*

              I agree that it’s odd that the employer is the one hanging the posters. But I don’t agree with “the average worker can’t control this.” We all have control over our own circumstances (to some extent), and while no one person will single handedly close the gender pay gap – we can advocate within our own circumstances. Twice in my career I’ve entered into salary renegotiations based on the discovery that male counterparts (of same performance ranking, or lower) were being compensated at a higher level. And I assure you I am very much an ‘average’ worker.

          7. Wintermute*

            Exactly, it is LITERALLY the least amount of effort you can do without doing “nothing”– it takes less effort than even talking to people or writing a thoughtful e-mail expressing your values.

            Also you’re right, what do you expect ME to do about it?! I’m not in hiring, I manage no direct reports, I’m not anywhere near payroll or compensation. IF you want gender pay equality, start giving managers implicit bias training, put women on the board, hire women as executives, hire women as executives of things other than HR, facilities and customer service (why is it that inevitably even in fairly progressive companies all their female executives are in the most “feminine” of the executive departments? Do they realize how this looks?)… there’s a world of things that can be done and I can do none of them.

        2. Mbarr*

          I honestly never thought about that hypocrisy until now. Your critique seems very understandable to me.

          That being said, there’s still value in posters. It can educate people in general (e.g. Joe Marketing might not be aware that his wife in another company isn’t getting paid her due. Or, maybe a Sally Copywriter found out that her male colleague is getting paid more than her but has less experience – the poster lets her know the company is open to her opening a discussion on the inequity.)

          1. Fikly*

            It doesn’t, actually. All it says is that the people who put up the posters are open to talking about it, which do not seem like the people in charge of pay.

            1. Gaia*

              To be fair, we don’t actually know if the company has a gender pay gap. And, if they do, we don’t know if they are addressing it.

              In a previous job, I worked at a multinational organization and was put on a project for the executive team to look for bias in pay. Not surprisingly, we found a pay gap and the executive team behind the project immediately put in place efforts to correct it. Part of the project, before we had the final results and before the full scale of the project was publicized, was communicating about DEI in general. It was setting the groundwork for people to understand why these changes were coming.

              I hope this is the case with the OP’s company.

              1. Fikly*

                I agree, we don’t know if there is a pay gap or if it’s being addressed. The posters, however, are not evidence in either direction.

              2. Never Been There, Never Done That*

                ” the executive team behind the project immediately put in place efforts to correct it.”
                Never thought I would see that combination of words put together. Nice!

          2. Starbuck*

            How does the poster described help people learn that, though? It would be one thing if the poster was helping make women aware of their rights and how to exercise them – now that would be a helpful poster. Eg. you have the right to discuss pay with coworkers.

        3. Too Old For This Nonsense*

          This is very important. If the communication is too one-way, people may find a way to hijack any return communication. Think “protest votes” (about something different) and, yes, vandalism of posters. Then good policies, good politics and real people become collateral damage (*cough* Brexit *cough*). The team meetings, one-to-ones, Q&As, all mentioned above, are excellent measures for collecting honest feedback, and for genuinely engaging.

    3. Too Old For This Nonsense*

      I don’t quite understand who the equity committe consists of and who the posters are aimed at. If the equity committee represents management, then a top-down exhortation to address promotion prospects of marginalised groups is surely being addressed to the wrong people *by* the people who can change that. I must admit that would annoy me too (coming across as hypocritical virtue-signalling)!

      If the equity committee *isn’t* part of management, then, again, surely posters are targeting the wrong people, and it would be better to lay on activities which would play to different strengths (giving different people a chance to shine, or allowing staff to interact on a different footing), but *mostly* collate data to audit equity and diversity. Data and demonstration are probably the most powerful tools for bringing about equity. See the impact of Caroline Criado-Perez’s book “Invisible Women”, whose thesis is that the data used in product design (and, increasingly, used to teach artificial intelligence) are disproportionately white, male, Western, etc., etc. Hence horrible effects such as face recognition not working on non-white people, or bulletproof vests not fitting (and therefore not protecting) women. That’s really what an equity committee should be doing instead.

      1. Elena vasquez*

        I would be very happy if facial recognition doesn’t work on me! Technology can be very invasive of personal privacy.

        1. HQetc*

          Except sometimes it’s not that it doesn’t work (i.e., does not return a result) it’s that it’s less accurate (i.e., returns an incorrect result). That can mean, for example, black people are more likely to be wrongly matched with surveillance videos than white people. There is a semi-recent ACLU project where they got Amazon Rekognition (their facial recognition tool) to match members of Congress against a mug shot collection, and black members “matched” (were incorrectly identified as the individuals in the mug shots) at a much higher rate than white members.

    4. JSPA*

      No idea if OP’s company wants to go this route…

      But locally, groups that advertise as providing space, time and community for “women + gender minority + gender nonconforming” seem to do extra-well at creating a supportive space and (organically) shedding complainers and complaints.

      I don’t know if it’s because cis, would-be alpha males with a grudge get icked out and self-select away, or if it’s because the inclusion of more-blatantly marginalized groups put the “women” part of the equation in a natural context (even for people young enough that they have very little sense how recent even the illusion of equality is, in the workplace). Or both.

      Something to think about, anyway.

        1. JSPA*

          I’m thinking of, e.g. bike repair clinics and rides (where the default testosterone and mansplaining can otherwise run quite deep, in ways that are contrary to, “we all benefit when we all learn how to fix our own bikes by ourselves and we all get to enjoy riding”).

          Declare a “women’s bike clinic” and you often get guys hanging around with some hazy intention, more or less well-meant, that they will “get with” “bike chicks” by helping / “helping.” It’s not unknown for attitude to ensue when their help / “help” is rebuffed, or when it’s pointed out that the site is 80% male, 90% of the time, and they could really just not intrude for this particular couple of hours. But declare a “women/trans/gender nonconforming bike clinic and ride,” and often as not, those people self-select right on out.

          Fear of “hitting on a dude”? Anxiety about not being able to categorize people? (Correct) assumption that organizers who use those terms won’t put up with much BS? Fear of mansplaining to someone with “outie” genitalia? Fear of being taken for someone nonconforming, themselves? All of the above? Who knows.

          Yes, there will be people there who, by default, would be recognized as male, under most circumstances, and some of them may be genetically XY and predominantly cis-identified. So it’s not exactly a “women’s thing.” (And often, not as competitive as a “women’s” thing.)

          Another approach I have not seen done much, but which could work, would be to reference not gender per se, but something clearly relevant primarily to women. “Reaching and maintaining cardiovascular fitness in the context of menstruation and menopause” may or may not draw female crowds. (Dunno.) But it won’t draw a bunch of cis men demanding equal access. It may still draw vandals, but they’ll have a darn hard time pretending they’re anything other than haters.

          TL;DR for this part: if you can be intentionally intersectional, you’ll distinguish the simple bigots from those who are working, in relative good faith, from a different background and different set of assumptions than where you’re coming from.


          As to the “young guys” throwaway comment…This may be a digression, but you asked me to clarify…and the thread is old enough that it’s unlikely to spawn a huge off-topic ape-sh*t-flinging fest. So, with some trepidation:

          I have met so, so many guys who grew up hearing and seeing “women’s rights” terminology, and who are not intellectually aware (at all, really) of the long history of almost infinite men’s rights. Their parents both had jobs (or their dad may have been laid off while their mother worked, due to the gender imbalance in manufacturing vs service industries). Their sisters may be doing as well on the job market as they are (or better). I’m not saying they’re free of a sense of entitlement! Some are, some aren’t. But the fact that the little section of the job landscape that they can see looks, at best, like a level playing field (genderwise), makes them hypersensitive to slick promo pieces about how “girls rule.” (And of course, our own perception of the history of women in the workplace is not at all independent from our class or racial background, in the first place. If we say, “women didn’t work outside the home” or “the only jobs for women were secretaries or teachers,” we’re labeling ourselves as “not working class, probably white, and not aware of working class realities.”)

          Then there are those who do have some historical awareness, but place the blame in the wrong location. Entry of women and minorities into the blue collar manufacturing workforce (either by small nonunion operators paying lower wages, or as strikebreakers) certainly did correlate with a loss of high paying union jobs. (Mistaking correlation for causality is something just about everyone does; it’s not unique to people whose grandparents had good, domestic manufacturing jobs that they’ll never see the like of, again.) And while some people do blame “women” or “the blacks” for taking “their” jobs…plenty of other people who see no personal crime in someone accepting a needed job, are still very suspicious of MANAGEMENT putting up puff pieces promoting people who might (still) be willing to work for less. (Modern unions are great pointing out that the cure for this anxiety is to work for good wages for EVERYONE…but back in the day, the unions were themselves often a tool of racism and sexism, due to exactly this dynamic.)

          TL;DR: Fertile ground for another sort of intersectionality here…How many workplaces have seminars on, “blue collar worker / white collar workplace: navigating the cross-currents”? (And how many of those are taught by people originally from deep in the “blue” part of that divide? And how many of those include more than one race? More than one gender?)

    5. Venus*

      Someone else talked about this subject better than I ever could, and I have quoted them below. I wish that all workplaces felt this strongly, although these statements (I’ve picked out my favourite lines) came about because for decades the “Boys will be boys” and “It’s okay, he’s just joking” comments festered. I agree that small problems are indications of much bigger ones, as someone in OP2’s workplace wasn’t worried about the consequences of changing that poster if they were caught.

      Link to follow in the reply.
      “Those who think that it is okay to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place in this organization. If that does not suit you, then get out. You may find another employer where your attitude and behavior is acceptable, but I doubt it. If you become aware of any individual degrading another then show moral courage and take a stand against it. I will be ruthless in ridding this organization of people who cannot live up to its values. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.”

      1. Johnny Tarr*

        Honestly, reading this soothed my soul. It is so helpful to see a hard response to “just joking why so serious” sexism.

        1. Quill*

          It is in fact helpful, and far more poetic than my usual advice to younger women, which is “if a dude is a fan specifically of the Joker – not of comics, batman movies, batman villains, but the Joker – run like hell.”

    6. Thankful for AAM*

      If it is a research Center, are most of the people seeing the posters responsible for hiring their own staff with grants?

      As others have pointed out very eloquently, what is the point of the equity committee and posters? Presumably most of the people seeing the posters are not the ones responsible for fixing issues of equity and inclusion? But maybe they are if they hire their own staff with grants?

      I think replacing the poster with one about facts related to male lottery winners does show a lot of effort and planning and therefore that you have a steep curve addressing the vandalism. But maybe this amount of planning suggests a researcher frustrated with the idea that a poster is going to solve equity and inclusion problems in your workplace and using the poster to snarkily point that out?

      I’d be pretty frustrated if I saw posters like that in my mostly white, female workplace when most of us 1. Have no control over equity in hiring and 2. Men get more of the leadership roles when they are hired.

      1. EPLawyer*

        The vandalism is a symptom of the larger problem. As someone above noted, whoever did this knew there would be no consequences. No poster is going to address that. No blanket email is going to address that. The only thing that will address that is making it clear there are consequences for any discrimination in the workplace — then carry out the consequences.

        Not sure if your committee has the power to do anything more than put up posters though. If management created this committee because it sounds good to have one, but is not committed to making real change, you are banging your head against a wall. From the reaction to the vandalism, it sounds like the committee members themselves may be part of the problem, even if there is power to recommend real changes that will be acted on.

      2. Avasarala*

        If it were “I agree with you, I just don’t think you’re going far enough” type vandalism, it would have been someone writing, “Tell that to our white male CEO” not “OK well then how is a women’s fitness group not sexist”.

    7. OhGee*

      Agree with all this. The letter had me wondering if the posters were displayed without any other educational efforts, which seems likely to invite this kind of response.

      1. HarperC*

        I wouldn’t say it would invite that sort of response. I feel that is letting the vandal off the hook far too much. From the choice of response, I would say it’s clearly someone who does not feel discrimination and inequity is a problem (why can there be ALL WOMEN running groups was basically the person’s counter argument which is the fall back position of many who do not believe there is a wage gap and other uninformed and biased individuals). My point being that I don’t think it is someone who is striving for equality who is annoyed that nothing is being done except posters being posted.

        Now, as far as a response, I agree that the company needs to address it head-on. If they are unwilling, then I think that says just how uninvested they are in any DEI efforts.

        1. Essess*

          However, if a company is claiming that inclusion and diversity is important, then exclusive activities should not be advertised and supported, such as a women-only running team. That just creates a separate silo of exclusionary activities and makes a mockery of the ‘inclusion’ message. My company’s DEI program focuses on various activities that target diverse groups but everyone in the company is invited to attend and participate.

      2. Drn*

        I disagree that these posters are useless or a bad idea. Posters on these issues are part of climate issues. They show that someone is paying attention and they serve an educational function. However, they are not a stand-alone. Context matters a lot.

    8. Shannon*

      I would also consider setting up a hidden camera, if at all possible, to catch the offender in the act. If I was his or her manager, I wouldn’t want this person on my staff.

    9. Moi*

      I’m going to take the opposite side. As a woman my gender has never impacted my career. My white husband however has definitely lost out on promotions to people less qualified than he is based on his race and gender. At this point in his industry to succeed as a white male you need to be twice as good and work twice as hard (and yes I know that’s what women have historically gone through and still go through in some industries). Could the passive aggressive ripping down of the posters be a result of reverse discrimination?

      1. merp*

        Reverse racism is not a thing. Just, hands down, definitely not a thing. This has been covered elsewhere much more eloquently but racism/sexism/other forms of systemic discrimination are based on longterm power imbalances – white folks and men have been on the top of the mountain for the entirety of this country’s history and the fact that someone hired a Black woman instead of your husband once does not even come close to the systemic discrimination that Black women face. (And unless you were the hiring manager, you literally know nothing about someone’s qualifications relative to your husband’s!) Not going to derail further, but I really encourage you to do some reading on this.

        Also, to the actual letter, passive aggressive ripping down of posters is still not the right response for someone with something to say about the posters.

      2. Artemesia*

        I don’t deny that that can happen although in my experience it is usually that more or less equally qualified candidates are involved and where in the past the white guy would have gotten the job, now he has to compete for it. For example 10% of my husband’s law class were women; 50% of the law review (top 20 people in the class first year) were women. This wasn’t because of some sort of forced equality; this was because the 20 women in the class were far superior on average to the rest of the class and admitted with much higher LSAT average etc and had higher grades (grades are the entire thing for law review selection) Without admission of women my husband would have been 7th in his class instead of 17th. Equality is like that. White men are so used to going to the head of the line that it feels like a loss when things are equal and of course if you always got to go to the head of the line it is a loss — but not unfair.

        I also once heard a white guy explain that he didn’t get the job because he was told ‘they had to give it to a woman or black person’. I knew who got hired at that company for that job and it was a white guy. I suspect cowardly hiring managers occasionally say something like that rather than we had a ‘better qualified candidate.’

        1. Venus*

          This is exactly it! My experience is that the white men who complain about ‘reverse racism’ are mediocre and unhappy that they have competition, whereas the skilled white men welcome the contribution of stronger peers.

          I had this conversation years ago with someone from school who complained that he couldn’t get admitted to a program because he was white and male. My response was “Then why is that class 90% white and male? It’s clearly not a problem for a lot of white men! It’s just a problem for you.”

      3. Quill*

        … Maybe, just maybe, people didn’t want to hire or promote him because you and he believe that “reverse racism” is a thing, and people didn’t feel like doing the digging to determine whether you believed it because of misinformation or because of bigotry.

        Also, vandalism is generally not the way to address these concerns, and bringing the concept of reverse racism into it when it seems like the posters targeted were specifically about gender equity seems pretty far fetched in terms of “it could be an understandable response.”

        Of note: how do you *Know* these people were less qualified? Because in my experience as a white lady getting hired, and before that applying to scholarships, I wasn’t told Jack about the other candidates’ demographics or qualification levels.

        1. Barb*

          “to succeed as a white male you need to be twice as good and work twice as hard”

          Maybe it’s a parody post? Or her husband can’t admit that he’s losing out to more skilled people, because there’s no way non-white non-men could be highly skilled!

      4. lost academic*

        The very phrase “reverse discrimination” is a red herring.

        I’ll also add that I see a lot of aggrieved people – typically white males – complaining when they feel like they are not given opportunities, promotions, raises, jobs etc. due to racial or gender differences when they are not looking at the whole picture. I see in particular with friends and family in tech who have intense negativity towards women and people of color who are in positions above theirs because they appear to have less technical capability than said complaining individuals, when those people don’t recognize that the positions require entirely different types of experience and skillsets around people and project management, for instance. The higher up you go in most roles, the less important and valuable your day to day technical chops are going to be and being overly involved in the day to day technicalities CAN be detrimental towards the overall needs of the position.

        But it’s easier to whine about “reverse discrimination” than to recognize someone else might have skills you don’t.

      5. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

        “My white husband however has definitely lost out on promotions to people less qualified than he is based on his race and gender.”

        how do you know these people were less qualified? maybe they were just better for the job. reverse discrimination doesn’t exist. thank you, next.

      6. Observer*

        I’m going to call baloney. Study after study, in field after field, shows that this is not the way it works. And this is ESPECIALLY true in research – the inequities are stark.

        And no reasonable person reacts to information on a well documented problem by taking significant effort to claim that the problem DOES NOT EXIST. Sorry (not sorry, just annoyed.)

      7. Clisby*

        Oh, those poor put-upon white men. Yeah, anytime they don’t get the automatic preference they think they’re entitled to, it’s obviously reverse discrimination.

    10. LW2*

      Thanks for all the comments! It’s reinforced my decision to push hard for the way this is addressed.
      To clarify a few things people were asking:
      The posters are a small part of our EDI work including data analysis, training and policy work
      The poster that was taken down and replaced was in a male bathroom so I definitely think it was done thinking other people who saw it would agree (also, bad place for a camera!)
      It was thought this was ‘valuable’ because we were receiving feedback from people who were unlikely to engage through official channels

      1. Helena*

        But what “feedback” do your colleagues think you’ve received here? That some tosser believes that women actually do deserve less pay than men? How is that feedback valuable, except that you now know your org has at least one misogynist in its ranks?

          1. Anonybus*

            I am in one of the science departments at a university, and we have recently had an issue with someone in one of the buildings selectively removing posters and flyers for diversity and inclusion in STEM-related events.

            Investigation by the department indicates that it’s ONLY those flyers being taken down, that the flyers complied with the policies for posting on the boards where they were posted, and that they were being taken down within 24-48 hours of being posted.

            That’s not “feedback”, it’s just hostile. So, I’m inclined to think that the vandalism in this case shouldn’t be accepted as valuable feedback. I wonder how many other research institutions have been having similar incidents lately…

        1. Zap R.*

          Yeah, in an office context, feedback is like ” Maybe we could try to streamline some processes to make them paperless” or “I think we should stock M&Ms in the vending machine.”

          “I disagree with gender pay equity” isn’t valuable to anyone unless you want to know which person to avoid.

        2. Anna*

          Or maybe you don’t worry so much about what the OP meant by feedback? I don’t know, but I think a lot of people are getting hung up on some weird stuff around this question. It’s entirely probable the feedback they’re receiving is how to address it.

      2. Lynca*

        I would also think about how to strategically place these kinds of posters. We generally have catch-all locations for our federally required notices and any departmental notices in high traffic areas. Generally in break rooms, main hallways, etc. where people will see them.

        I am a bit puzzled about why one was placed in a bathroom but I absolutely see why it was ripe for vandalism.

        1. LW2*

          I also posted this to another reply:
          We do bathroom campaigns 2 or 3 times a year with the posters only up for a week only. The idea is it’s very easy to overlook posters normally (information overload is a real issue!) but this is a captive audience. We don’t want to overuse it though which is why it’s limited.

        2. Wintermute*

          Yeah, this TOTALLY changes the context for me. Putting it in a (non-executive) bathroom would feel… I don’t know… judgmental? it’s an explicitly gendered space. It’s hard for me to explain why it rubs me the wrong way, but it definitely does.

          My best stab at it is this– I could see it feeling targeted and aggressive, if someone isn’t in a role where they control hiring and wages. men in entry-level-to-moderate roles often feel targeted by that kind of messaging because they certainly don’t FEEL like they have an unfair advantage when they’re struggling to make ends meet (and to be fair to them, the gender gap is reversed at entry level in many fields and becomes more and more apparent the higher up the chain you go). So putting that message in a space that’s overtly gender-labelled… yeah… it feels judgmental and targeted.

          1. Len F*

            Take one for the team.

            Don’t think #notallmen. Think about all the shit women have to go through, which prompted the need for putting up the poster in the first place. To my mind, any of my discomfort being possibly judged, suspected or criticised based on me being male pales in comparison to that.

  3. Engineer Girl*

    #4 – Also think about minimal makeup – mascara, shadow, lip gloss.
    But absolutely own it. That way no one has to spend energy dancing around it. It puts everyone at ease (a good thing!)

    1. Neurodermatitic Teapot*

      Speaking as someone with a life-long history of ekzema, even minimal make-up tends to be too much make-up when you have a flare-up. Especially with the face, skin gets super-sensitive during flare-ups and even products in the vicinity of the affected parts (not just directly on it), can make the flare-up much worse and last a lot longer.

        1. Sled dog mama*

          I’ve had the same experience of not wearing makeup not being a problem. I base that on the fact that I’ve been offered the job every time I’ve interviewed without makeup.
          I also made sure to look polished in every other way and I wonder if that’s OP’s actual problem. My husband has eczema and he has days where he looks pretty…..interesting, and probably would struggle to look interview put together.
          If this is a place that values appearance so much that OP’ healing from a flare up face is going to be a deal breaker that is super valuable information to have.

          1. Steve*

            Same for me. I haven’t had a lot of interviews, so it’s a small sample pool, but I work in a field that cares about my technical and interpersonal skills far more than physical appearance, and I do well despite not wearing makeup (and I have a skin condition which reminds me a lot of OP – I don’t say anything about it and aim for an employer that cares more about my brain than my face. Appearance might have more impact in other fields).

          1. Artemesia*

            Same here, but I worked in a field where that was not uncommon and so anything beyond lipstick was not the norm although many women wore more makeup than that. There are business settings where not wearing make up would make you an outlier.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        I’ve never worn makeup in my life except to my own wedding and to be in my cousin’s wedding party.

        I have gotten offers from most of the job interviews I’ve ever had so I don’t think no makeup has ever had an impact on hiring for me. (I know that might reflect that I apply for low level jobs or jobs that particularly don’t care about appearance but I do not think that is true).

    2. JSPA*

      Noooo, I’d say that using a little make up (as well as possibly being medically problematic) will emphasize the red rawness. Best to use the implicit medical dispensation, and put the effort into having one’s clothing be particularly smart and put-together.

      People who are going to be subliminally repulsed by rashy skin or judgmental about makeup in that circumstance are not people who’d be good to work for.

      Also, oddly, some people judge women with skin conditions more harshly if they wear makeup. Wear it, and it’s “if she didn’t clog her pores with junk, her skin would be healthier” or, “she’s dishonestly trying to cover a problem with a lot of makeup.” Go the bold mascara only look, and you get, “I bet she wears too much makeup when her skin isn’t raw, and that’s why it breaks out.”

      Best to keep makeup out of their consciousness entirely. OP may even benefit from a subconscious perception of “no makeup but very sharp dresser => use male candidate assessment rubric.” Direct eye contact, firm handshake, easy manner.

      1. OP4*

        This is smart. I actually went and got my nails done with a similar thought process (at least my nails won’t also look raggedy).

        1. Artemesia*

          Great idea. I think being impeccably groomed including hair very well styled as well as impeccably dressed is critical here. Hope it clears up soon — and that you have some sort of mantra to get amped up for the interview and not let this worry you and make you nervous.

            1. Veronica*

              Yes, “impeccable” would make me nervous and self-conscious. I take the approach of trying to look good and achieving, at least, presentable. I’ve trained myself not to worry about having a hair out of place, or overthinking my clothes… that’s a deep rabbit hole of self-conscious insecurity. I never wore makeup until last year, when I started wearing a little under-eye brightener.

      2. Turtle Candle*

        Yep. I have bad eczema too and I find that people actually find raw hamburger face more understandable than um. Slightly cooked hamburger face. It goes over better if it looks like A Definitely Medical Issue than if it looks like a cosmetic thing.

        (Grossly unfair. But true.)

    3. V*

      I completely agree that owning it is the right answer. A while ago I interviewed someone with terrible skin issues on their face, who said right at the start “I apologise for my appearance at the moment – I’m having a psoriasis flare-up. It’s normally under control but of course it chose to flare up at the worst possible time!” And after that we didn’t mention it again and it wasn’t an issue. You could argue that you shouldn’t need to *apologise* for it, but in the interview context, it doesn’t hurt to be a little bit more over-polite than in daily life.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you’re someone who usually does wear makeup and the women you see at the office wear it, you may want to think about adding a mention of it to the end of Alison’s script. Not sure how though…
      And honestly I so rarely wear makeup beyond eyeliner & lipstick that I wouldn’t notice if someone’s not wearing it.

    5. Jdc*

      Totally agree. We all have things like this happen. Just acknowledge it and move on. I promise you are more aware of it than others. Most just think “huh” then don’t think of it again.

    6. Washi*

      Is this a generational thing? Or a geographic area thing? I’m in my 20s, East Coast, and I’ve never heard that I am supposed to wear makeup to an interview. And if someone came in with a visible skin condition, it wouldn’t even occur to me to wonder why they weren’t wearing makeup.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I think it’s partly generational. My mom and her sisters used to never be caught dead without makeup. My mom only recently decided that she doesn’t care day to day but wouldn’t ever go to work without it, let alone an interview.

        My mom and aunts have front facing jobs though. So it’s also that coming into play.

        Whereas I didn’t start wearing anything until my late 20s and it’s rare it’s more than mascara. And I’ve never been bothered about it.

        I’m also in a very casual industry and have few interactions face to face. I haven’t interviewed anywhere that has had a woman with much makeup either in my position or other ones.

        1. Helena*

          Some of it is age-related as well as generational – I didn’t wear much makeup in my teens and 20s, but I had dewy clear skin at that age. I’m in my 40s now and definitely look less tired/brighter when I put a bit of tinted moisturiser on. I can imagine if your mum is in her 60s she now cares less about being perceived as looking older.

          I wouldn’t go to a job interview with a completely bare face because I don’t think I look my best that way. It isn’t about looking “pretty”, it’s about looking healthy/awake. I wouldn’t have a full face of makeup, because my profession is a “serious” one where too much makeup would also give the wrong first impression, but I’d wear foundation and some mascara.

        2. Moira*

          I think there are other factors at play – my mom was born in 1950 and never wore any makeup beyond lipstick. She still doesn’t too this day. She was a midwife and emergency nurse so maybe that was part of the reason. I followed her lead on the makeup thing, and I wouldn’t care to work anywhere that penalized me for it.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        I’m in my thirties but I think it’s more of a personality thing than an age or location thing. A lot of my peers wear makeup daily and wouldn’t leave their house without it, and I know older women (my mother-in-law) from the same area as me (Northeast US) who don’t go out without makeup, and I know others (my mom, the same age and location as my MIL) who don’t wear it.

        I wear makeup on occasions where I feel like I need to dress up a bit. I might wear a little to a job interview, but I also might not. I don’t wear it to work. If someone told me I needed to I’d seriously question their credentials because I’m not a model, I’m not on camera, and I’m not public facing. Even when I worked customer service in retail – so interacted with the public constantly – I didn’t wear makeup. Some of my coworkers did but a lot did not.

    7. Lynca*

      Whatever OP decides the most important thing is to own it. I don’t really wear makeup. The reason why is I have horrible breakouts all of the time and makeup will outright make any breakout 100% worse. I can’t even look at foundation without my skin wanting to revolt.

      I generally just give a brief and light “Sorry, trying to manage this terrible breakout. Happens at the most inconvenient times doesn’t it?” So far it hasn’t impacted anyone’s impression of me.

    8. OP4*

      OP#4 here, and what others said about putting makeup on a flare-up is right–even mascara is torture (and would involve lots of itching) when my eyelids are swollen and flared.

      Thankfully, the flare is going down now and we still haven’t scheduled the follow-up, so I should be able to wear my normal amount of minimal makeup (under-eye concealer, neutral shadow, mascara, lip gloss). But thanks so much for the answer, Allison, and from everyone else, as it’s important to remember for the future.

      (For context, I don’t wear makeup most days except the rare instances that I have meetings or conferences outside; interviews go in that category as well which is why I was worried.)

      1. Annon for this*

        I just had my first experience with eczema this past summer. OP you have my sympathies. It was miserable. It was on my eyes and there was no way I could wear makeup.
        The eczema has finally cleared and I realized that I am fine, actually better without makeup. I gave up face makeup a few years ago and my acne finally cleared up as a result. Now that I have given up eyemake up, my eyes are much less itchy AND if they are I can rub them without ruining my makeup. It’s actually a little liberating since I was a former never leave the house without it kinda person.
        Good luck with both the interview and the eczema.

      2. LaurelBee*

        Hi OP4 – you mentioned getting your nails done. Every one in awhile I get eyelid eczema – I’m pretty sure it’s caused by nail polish (I rub my eyes in my sleep). That’s pretty common, so you probably know this already, but thought I’d mention it in case!

      3. Fellow skin sufferer*

        I have sebhorreic dermatitis and it often flares up on my face, but it sounds like your situation is much more challenging than mine*, so you have my utmost sympathies. If makeup isn’t your thing normally, and it would just exacerbate the eczema, don’t wear it! I’m glad you’re able to wear what you want to for the interview, and I wish you the best of luck!

        When flare-ups happen for me, it’s around my lips and on my eyelids, but it’s not swollen, just itchy and scaly. (Nice…) And I have acne and compulsive skin-picking disorder… Sigh.

    9. Quill*

      Generally speaking if you have skin that’s sensitized it’s better to not put makeup products, which contain a variety of potentially irritating solvents, oils, emulsifiers, scents, and pigments, anywhere near the affected area. Moisturize and go own the situation! :)

      1. Veronica*

        Non-natural makeups and beauty products are full of irritating chemicals. Even the ones labeled “natural” sneak in a couple of chemicals. It’s good to read the ingredients and choose carefully.

        1. Julia*

          Chemicals aren’t evil (H2O is a chemical!) and natural ingredients aren’t necessarily better. Some herbs make me itch while lab-created ingredients like azelaic acid work well for me.

        2. Veronica*

          There are a lot of individual differences, no two people react the same – but there are chemicals that are known to cause bad reactions in a majority of people, and cosmetic companies still use them.

    10. A*

      Yes! I had a similar situation – first job interview out of college and I had the profound pleasure of having my first ever outbreak of shingles. Luckily it was about two weeks after the initial outbreak so I was feeling mostly fine, fever had gone away etc….. but the left side of my face (and body, but luckily it was cold enough out for me to fully cover up) looked HORRIBLE.

      It was so obvious, there was o way to ignore it. I dressed even more formal than I usually would, and actually styled my hair instead of just throwing it in a bun etc. That, plus a bit of mascara and liner at least made it clear that I was making an effort. Immediately after introductions I stated that I was healing from a skin reaction, but it wasn’t contagious etc. and not to worry. Then I joked about looking like fire ants attacked me, which helped lighten the mood.

  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, it’s also possible that your daughter’s workplace prioritizes and encourages folks to take their PTO/vacation as part of their approach to employee retention. So although it’s uncommon at a start-up, it’s totally possible that she’s meeting or exceeding all expectations and that her requests for leave are not out of the ordinary. (I’m not saying that that’s the case, just saying that there’s a reality in which what she’s doing is 100% normal and ok.)

    It sounds like you’re really worried about her economic security, so you’re focusing on things that are out of your control. That’s not going to be great for you or for her. And if you fixate on her time off without realizing she’s also prioritizing spending time with her family and loved ones, it’s going to erode your relationship. I know it’s hard, but in this case, I think you have to give yourself permission to let go. It sounds like she’s got a good head on her shoulders and is capable, and now it’s her turn to apply everything she learned from you.

    1. Lucky black cat*

      Well, that could be the case – although then I would hope she wouldn’t feel the need to do remote work.

      1. Red Spider*

        Sometimes remote work is a good compromise to make sure that certain time-sensitive tasks get done while also getting to attend a family event that you would otherwise have to miss.

      2. Xer*

        Unfortunately, lot that can be done anywheere, will be done everywhere. There’s no.such thing as a snow day anymore in my state. Kids do classes via the internet if it’s too cold or icy or snowy.

        As an adult whose job is 70% on a software that’s best based\thinking wofk, I’m only in my office to meet clients. The upside is I can work from anywhere. That’s also the downside.

        The line between at work of not is no longer physical location.

        1. Liz*

          yes! i can remember early in my working life, getting hit with a huge blizzard and my company being closed for several days. The only way to find out if you needed to come in or not, was via a recorded message you called to get.

          now? there are no snow days. At least not for me. So many people will ask me, when it snows, “did you get a snow day?” No, i got a work from home day. And the same for any issue where I can’t be in the office.

          My immediate family used to be 8 hours away, and i always took time at Christmas. BUT, i also always took my laptop, so if i needed to work, i could and did.

          so it may be that this is the case with the daughter’s job as well. So many jobs are 100% remote, and others remote when the need arises.

        2. Dahlia*

          Kids doing online work is definitely better than adding extra days of school onto the end of the year or falling behind!!

        3. A*

          This is a good point. I’ve only been in the working world for ten years, and “snow day” is a foreign concept to me. Blizzard = work from home. Sick with something contagious, but still able to perform (colds etc.) = work from home. Car issues = work from home.

          1. Sleepless*

            On the other hand, my job cannot be done remotely. Like, maybe 5% of it can be done via email. If I can’t drive (which happens for a day or so almost every year, I live in an area that gets paralyzed if it snows) I can’t work.

      3. EPLawyer*

        I think this is what Mum is missing. She is not taking “all this time off” if she is doing remote work. She is still working. Maybe not an 8 hour day, but she is working. It’s not all fun and games. She is keeping up with her job in a way that her boss finds acceptable while still getting free time.

        1. boo bot*

          Yes – if she’s “doing some remote work” she’s not taking time off. Generally speaking, remote work is just work – your daughter is doing everything she would be doing in her office, and her boss isn’t going to consider her to be on vacation.

          1. Moira*

            Agreed. Sounds like a whole lot of pressure to put on yourself and your kid. I think they should have a conversation about financial support if the parents are that worried about it happening in the future. Other than that it’s not really their beeswax.

        2. Door Guy*

          Yup. I used to get grief from my reports when they’d call me and I was working from home because I had a sick kid, or an emergency repair or similar. I always “Worked Remote” because I lived beside a laptop and cell phone, but some days that remote working happened at home, others it happened elsewhere in my territory.

          I’ve gone to numerous family events with my laptop and phone and bounced back and forth between a quiet area and the gathering. I was most definitely not “taking time off” my job.

        3. Aerin*

          Yup. I’ve used remote work as a way to travel when I didn’t have enough PTO to cover. Even though I have to punch a clock and be tied to my computer for the full 10 hours (call center), it means I can do stuff in the evenings and fly on days that are cheaper. If I had a more flexible job, I could definitely sneak in work during downtimes, or cram in as much as possible during the flights and layovers so I didn’t need to do as much while trying to do fun stuff.

          I do sometimes get the impression that my bosses aren’t super thrilled with it, and I’m not aware of other people in my office using their WFH days in that way (except maybe during the holidays). But the only time I’ve gotten actual pushback was when I wanted to do it from Canada, and that was a security thing more than attendance.

          Also, if she’s been given the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas off with that little seniority, it’s likely the office is so dead during that time that they don’t really need her. I’ve worked jobs where they really need people during the holidays and trust me, you can request PTO all you want, it ain’t getting approved.

      4. Corey*

        That’s a different privilege entirely. If the start of travel were to define the start of an unpartitioned vacation, then completing your hours locally would become a blocker for your vacation. Remote work allows you to schedule travel at a time that is convenient for you and for the events of your vacation.

    2. Artemesia*

      A great way to ruin your relationship with an adult child is to try to helicopter their work. She is a grownup and you shouldn’t be giving unsolicited advice about her workplace. It is acceptable to sit down and have a discussion about your anxiety and own that you have been meddling (if you have); and ONE discussion about the need to build an emergency fund as a priority as you are building your own retirement security and can’t afford to be that emergency fund indefinitely. Dave Ramsey’s ‘Financial Peace’ has some good suggestions about how to prioritize building security that is appropriate for a beginner. But lay off the continuing nagging and advice if your insecurities have caused you to mention this concern about her time management more than once already.

      1. Media Monkey*

        exactly. she may have agreed the time off for the family reunion before joining (since it sounds like it would have been planned before she took the new job?). and if she worked remotely then and while visiting Grandma, then she may not have taken off any time. time off at thanksgiving and christmas doesn’t seem crazy to me (but in the UK so i don’t have any perception of working within US holiday entitlements)

      2. Antilles*

        For what it’s worth, this actually sounds fairly standard even for the US:
        If you remove the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and likely day-after-Thanksgiving), that works out to 3 days (or less due to WFH) in June, 3 days in November, and 4 days in December. 10 days PTO is a fairly common starting point in most jobs.
        The only uniqueness here is that there wasn’t a phase-in period where no PTO can be used for the first 3-6 months for the June trip…but given that was pre-planned, she might have negotiated that as part of her starting package.

        1. Tuckerman*

          Yeah, it doesn’t sound outrageous to me, either. Especially if her clients/prospective tend to shut down around the holidays. I work in higher ed and nobody is making purchasing decisions those weeks.

        2. KRM*

          Also, if she’s doing work and keeping up with her deadlines while she’s away, she may not have to be taking leave at all. Not knowing exactly what her job duties are, it’s perfectly possible that she’s just working remotely, getting all her work done, and not having to use any leave to do what she wants to do.

          1. MtnLaurel*

            Exactly. that’s how my job is. And the parents don’t understand it, but I’m old enough and far enough along in my job that they don’t question it any more.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            This is what is puzzling to me too. First, with the remote work factored in, this is probably less than 10 days total, 6-7 of them during the weeks when everyone takes time off (including, I would be willing to bet, OP’s daughter’s clients). But more importantly, the employer approved the requests! It would be highly irrational and honestly sketchy for an employer to provide an X number of PTO days a year, approve an employee’s PTO requests for a number of days within X, and then to turn around and fire the employee for having taken the PTO that they had approved per company policy. Honestly I don’t know how the OP even came up with that scenario. Did these “gotcha!” PTO situations ever happen in the US before? They certainly haven’t in my time, I’ve been working here since the late 90s.

    3. Feline*

      Different workplaces handle first-year PTO differently. I have a coworker who started about the same time as OP3’s daughter who is currently away on a two-week European trip leaving us in a lurch over one of our most horrible deadlines of the year. I would never ask for that kind of time off as a longtime employee, much less a new one, but my supervisor signed off on it for her. I don’t have insight into why, so you as a parent won’t, either. You have to assume she isn’t getting that time off approved if it’s going to cause an issue.

      1. Venus*

        If your coworker started recently then I wonder if maybe the trip had been booked before the interview process, and was agreed upon as part of the negotiations. Hopefully it doesn’t happen again!

      2. Mel_05*

        She may have already booked the trip before she started working there and asked for the time off before she agreed to take the job.

        I’ve done that before and most employers have been accommodating. Not 2 weeks, but I certainly would if I’d pre-payed on a 2 week vacation.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yes, this is not terribly uncommon, I don’t think. I’d say maybe 1/4 of the new hires I have already have some sort of long weekend or holiday booked for which they need days off, and it’s really helpful to know that as far in advance as possible. HR will typically try to work with them on PTO advances, when possible.

          When I took my current job, I was six months away from my wedding and honeymoon. I negotiated that when I was starting, understanding I would not have enough paid leave for the full three weeks that I asked for off. It is the biggest chunk of time I’ve ever taken off my entire professional career, outside of maternity leave, and it was a non-issue when I brought it up with the hiring manager and recuiter.

          1. JustaTech*

            When I started my current job I was about 3 months out from my wedding/honeymoon *and* a cousin’s wedding. I managed to get away for both of those, but it did mean I skipped another wedding later in the year because I was still negative on time.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I did what Venus & Mel_05 suggest.
        This company wanted me to start ASAP so I did, and took my negotiated two-week unpaid leave of absence at the end of my first month. Their other options were to have me start AFTER the trip or have me not accept the job.

      4. Adereterial*

        You’d never ask for two weeks off, ever?

        That’s… not normal. Or healthy. Or any way a good place to be. That’s not a good work-life balance.

        Every employer I’ve ever worked at (UK, for reference) strongly encourages at least one two week break at least once a year. Strongly encouraged as in I was required, as a manager, to make a request work unless I absolutely couldn’t, if that was the period someone wanted.

        This year I had a week in March, two weeks in July (non-consecutive), two weeks in August, a week in October, and I have two weeks over Christmas. Plus a few odd days here and there. None of that was unusual or considered an onerous request.

        1. KeepIt*

          Yeah….unfortunately the vast majority of US companies are not like that at all. Taking something like two weeks off is healthy/good for you/should be encouraged, but in practice employees get punished (unofficially) for doing so here. In all the places I’ve worked, I’ve only ever had a week guaranteed

        2. A*

          Unfortunately many US employers only give two weeks vacation annually, although that norm is starting to be replaced with three. Two out of three of my employers have had policies against taking two or more weeks off at once, unless special permission is granted. Usually that’s for unusual circumstances like someone buying a house, getting married, honeymoon, ten year anniversary trip, etc.

          It’s not just done arbitrarily – in my line of work it would extremely difficult to fulfill the project needs if people were take two weeks off at a time. Our entire consumer base would need to shift expectations in order for us to move in that direction.

          1. Adereterial*

            I’m 100% sure that whatever line of work you’re in, European employers doing the same or similar things manage with staff having a fortnight off at a time. They may restrict when that can happen, or limit the number of people who can do it at a time, but it happens, and the world doesn’t end nor do projects crash and burn or customers not get what they’re paying for because someone has a holiday. It takes planning, but it’s perfectly possible.

            1. KeepIt*

              Saying “well we make it work” is really not helpful to say to people that don’t have any power to change what their employers deems acceptable. We get that it’s screwed up, that doesn’t help us deal with the situation in front of us

          2. Kimmi*

            Yeah, my entire bank of both sick leave and personal time off is 5-10 days depending on how long you’ve worked there. Everyone runs out of PTO from doctors appointments, family emergencies, and the occasional actual day they need off to travel for a wedding and are completely out of time off by the holidays so we’re fully staffed to do nothing because all our clients are closed…wow I need a new job.

        3. Oaktree*

          Must be nice. I get fifteen days’ vacation per year. I take them where I can. You are in a position of incredible privilege, and you should recognize that.

          1. Adereterial*

            Incredible privilege? No. Pretty much every country provides a statutory minimum leave requirement. The only modern industrialised nation that does not is the USA.

            The UK isn’t even the most generous in Europe, and some non-European countries offer nearly double the total annual and public holiday paid leave (Iranian employees get 53 days). Rather than viewing it as an ‘incredible privilege’ for someone to get more days than zero, or to be able to take 2 weeks in a row without that seeming to be a huge imposition, you need to view the US approach to this as alarmingly out of step with the rest of the rest of the world, I’m afraid.

            1. Oaktree*

              I do view the US approach as out of step. Also, I do not live or work in the United States. Thanks for your input though!

      5. SimplyTheBest*

        I did that at my current job. During negotiations, we were discussing the PTO package and I said I had a pre-planned trip. I was told as long as it’s not during xxx-particular dates, it wouldn’t be a problem. But my trip was during xxx-particular dates. I said, unfortunately this trip is already planned and paid for and it’s non-negotiable for me. So they made it work.

      6. Door Guy*

        We have a VP retiring in 2 months, and he was griping to me the other week about employees asking for time off before they’d been there 6 months. I had an event that had been planned for 6 months before I got hired (and wouldn’t be until the end of my 5th month) , and another had his sister’s wedding out of state about 4 months after he was hired. We were both approved for unpaid leave, but his grumpy rant was about how “Back in the Day if you asked for a day off, they’d tell you SURE, and take every day after that off as well.” I genuinely like the guy, but he does spout some odd/out of touch statements.

    4. Clisby*

      It’s also possible that the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas are pretty slow for sales – if so, it would make sense for the company to encourage people to take those weeks instead of busier times during the year.

      1. Yorick*

        Yeah, software sales to companies are probably slow at holidays like that, since the customers would be off work themselves

        1. The Original K.*

          I worked somewhere where the company was open during the holidays (except for Christmas Day) but 99% of the clients were not, so the vast majority of people took that week off. It was expected. My first year there, I had started close to the holidays so didn’t have much time accrued (and had to use a couple of days for a wedding a month later, which I had negotiated prior to starting), so I had to work that week. My boss (who had been off for basically all of December, as he was in a “use it or lose it” situation with PTO) said straight up that there wasn’t going to be enough to do to fill the time, and there wasn’t. I did get a lot of reading done though!

          1. Emily S*

            I work in digital fundraising for a nonprofit, so the week between Christmas and New Years is critically important for fundraising communications going out, but everything is cleared and set up before the holidays. Most of the rest of the organization is on holiday in December, so any project involving cross-department collaboration slows to a crawl because too many project members are out at any given time. So what ends up happening is I have to work that week, but I just have to be near my computer in case something goes wrong so I can jump in to fix it, or to answer any questions I get over email, and every morning I’ll put together a status report on how the week is progressing. Not only am I not expected to make progress on anything beyond year-end fundraising that week, it’s actively expected that I won’t be able to get much done on any other projects because everyone I might need to collaborate with or ask questions of is probably on vacation.

            So in practice I watch movies, take my dog out to play in the yard, catch up on post-holiday house-cleaning, do some online shopping/bill paying, read books, run close-by errands that don’t take me more than a 5-10 minute drive from home, etc. I can stay an extra day or two at my parents’ house and get in some quality time with visiting family, I can play with my nieces and nephews during the day while keeping an eye on my laptop, and go out to movies with my mom and stepdad in the evening. I put in maybe an hour of actual work each day but it logs as full regular days of work, so I get this very easy week of almost-but-not-quite-vacation that doesn’t cost me a single hour of PTO.

            The monitoring on 12/31 is full-day and that includes checking my phone several times leading up to midnight and always having my computer bag with me at any NYE celebration I go to just in case, but overall I love the arrangement. I’m willing to never be able to take time off that week and never be fully disconnected on the 31st if the trade-off is that I barely have to do any work that week and I don’t have to use any PTO for it. I usually take the first two weeks of January off, and it makes a real difference having already gotten a lot of the resting and chores out of the way before my vacation starts.

      2. Dagny*

        Exactly. She’s not in a “time served” job, measured by how long her butt is in the chair. There’s likely little point to her calling up customers the day before Thanksgiving or the day after Christmas, absent extenuating circumstances (hence, her laptop).

        People may actually get irritated with you, because they don’t want to deal with it. Just call people when they are in the office.

    5. Mainely Professional*

      There’s a lot unstated in this letter, but mentioning that the daughter has two philosophy degrees and how hard it was for her to find a job speaks to a level of parental misunderstanding about their child. I have a degree in philosophy, I have a lot of friends from college days with the same degree–and some who went on to get another “useless” graduate degree in philosophy or political science or comp lit. And they all figured it out, and got a job. Some of them as academics, some as software developers, some in non-profits, etc, etc, etc. The OP thinks their daughter made bad choices, and now that she’s found a job at which she is meeting or exceeding expectations, their looking for her to mess up again.

      1. Gaia*

        I think it is a little fair for them to think their daughter made a bad choice since they ended up footing the bill during her job hunt.

        I have a degree a lot of people view as “useless” and in no way related to my field. I strongly disagree, it is very useful to me every day and has a strong, if not immediately obvious, connection to my chosen work. But, when it took my career a bit longer to get started than my cohorts who did more “traditional” degrees, I wasn’t relying on my parents for financial support.

        1. A*

          They *chose* to foot the bill. Assuming OP’s daughter wasn’t a prodigy that completed her studies while still a minor, there is no outside force requiring them to continue to financially support their adult child well past the point most people have those resources available to them.

          Agreed on your points though, I also was on my own financially while I got settled/found my way. My degree isn’t immediately relevant to my line of work, although I draw from it constantly. As far as I know my parents don’t have strong feelings on this one way or another because…. well… why would they? I’m still held to the same expectation as I would under any other circumstances (‘figure your stuff out’).

        2. Adereterial*

          There’s precisely no guarantee that if the daughter had done different degrees, that she’d have got a job quicker at all.

          Education is not a bad choice.

      2. Heidi*

        I also got that impression. I was reminded of a letter last week where the mom worked at the same company and kept constantly checking on the OP through the office messaging system because she was afraid the kid would be fired even though everything was totally fine. If this OP doesn’t want the daughter living with her if she gets fired, she can state that up front. The daughter will find a way to live without her parents because she will have to. Besides, what is OP going to do? Ask her daughter to give back her vacation time?

      3. Genny*

        I don’t think LW is looking for daughter to mess up. I think she’s worried about her own finances and not having enough to support her in retirement and be her daughter’s safety net. That’s a very understandable fear, especially coming off what sounds like a prolonged period of being a safety net with all the financial sacrifice that comes with that.

        To LW I’d say, the PTO is a red herring. Deal with the anxiety about your finances whether that means sitting down with a financial planner to get a realistic perspective on retirement, doing a budget that clearly lays out where your money is going, or having a frank talk with your daughter about how much support you can give her in the future. You can’t control your daughter’s job, but your anxiety could drive a wedge into your relationship if you don’t do something about it.

        1. Mainely Professional*

          I agree. Maybe “mess up again” is a too specific…she disagrees subtly or not with her daughter’s choices. PTO is a red herring. The philosophy degrees are also a red herring. The letter is riven with an undercurrent of “I don’t know how to handle my relationship with my child.”

      4. SimplyTheBest*

        No where does OP say he daughter made a bad choice. Just that, understandable, a philosophy degree does not feed into a career as easily as other things and it took her a while to get a job. During which time OP had to support her and is now worried she’ll have to support her again.

      5. Newington*

        I got that impression too. If someone’s writing in about their adult child in a job that’s nothing to do with them, it’s probably a given already.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Also, many people interview when their lives have previously scheduled events — we negotiate that at the time of the job offer/acceptance. I know I did — when I accepted this job, I told them that I have plane tickets to visit elderly relatives out of state for [date range], and said I could either start after the trip, or start [much sooner] and take off two weeks unpaid. They gave me the two weeks.

      1. KRM*

        I did the same with a couple of scheduled vacations. They allowed me to start 5 weeks after accepting the job, since I had a week vacation planned, and then I took my allotted vacation time for the big family trip I had planned in August. Most companies understand that people have lives before they accept a job, and you can work out schedules in the acceptance phase of hiring.

      2. Liz*

        that was a job i started too; i had a long weekend planned, for a wedding out of state, and i let them know hey, I have this, but have no plans to take any time off after that. if I remember correctly, I had a few days i got right away, and they may have “borrowed” against one future vacation day, so i got paid for all of it.

        my current job, if you start mid-year, your vacation is pro-rated but available as of day 1, as is your PTO each year; available as of Jan 1. we don’t accrue time off. Which is nice, but not what every company does. My BFF has to accrue her time.

    7. Smithy*

      I would also add that let’s say the OP’s worry is rooted in concerns beyond just vacation time – say a past of perhaps her daughter losing summer/work study jobs. OP, it may be helpful to assess what level of support you would provide your daughter should she lose her job – for whatever reason.

      Would you give money so she could stay in her current apartment/city? And if so – for how long. Could your daughter move back home? Any conditions?

      OP – if you’re worried about needing to be a safety net because you feel as though you’ve still been playing that role as of very recently – then take the time to actively articulate what role you want to play as a parent to an adult child and what role you can afford. And then tell your daughter. Whether your concerns are based in a genuine place or not – it may be worth articulating those fears and perhaps where you can not step in and help out the way you have in the past.

    8. Misty*

      Frankly, given Mom’s judgmental attitude about daughter’s degrees, and mom being out of work force for decades, I think mom is really pushing for an opportunity to criticize the daughter here as daughter enters an I dependent phase.

      That daughter has felt the need to say she is meeting job expectations to mom is kind of sad, indicating mom has been critical.

      Mom – stay in your lane and worry about your relationship with your daughter. You are likely tarnishing it with your ungrounded criticism.

      1. A*

        I would agree, except for the financial piece. I don’t think it’s fair to say ‘stay in your lane’ and not address the fact that OP’s daughter has been financially reliant on them into her adult years. I think OP is clearly a helicopter parent, and I do agree with the guts of your advice – but it needs to be coupled with “and stop supporting them financially”. If OP’s daughter is going to potentially be using them as a financial safety net if anything goes wrong, she’s given up her right to tell OP to stay in her lane.

        1. Starbuck*

          This seems like it would be a bit much though, coming from someone who admits to not having worked in decades, and so is also presumably financially dependent on someone else. What do THEY think, I wonder, of both mom and daughter.

    9. VictorianCowgirl*

      Hi PCBH, as an aside, I just want to mention that your comments are always so well worded and thought out. In particular I have learned many ways of framing dissent or wanting to point out a problematic idea from you, as well as Alison. Such as “It sounds like you are worried about x, so you’re focusing on y” is really such a kind and respectful way to approach someone and so flexible for other scenarios, and gets past the “no way how could you think that” barrier to communication. The way things are worded is so, so powerful and before I found this blog I was at a great loss in addressing concerns in a way that wasn’t either too angry or too compliant. I always look forward to what you have to say about that articles. Thank you for your contributions.

      Have a great day!

    10. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Agreed PCBH. I would be proud of a kid that prioritized time with family (and a very elderly relative to boot!). I freely admit I did not balance work and time with family and friends well for years, and it was not a good situation. Yeah for people that recognize that work is not life. Although I also realize that I’m saying this while in a relatively tight labor market in many places, and we would likely be having a different discussion during a recession. However, still good for the LW’s daughter for finding a work/life balance of sorts.

      1. Just stoppin' by to chat*

        Also to the LW – I get that you feel an obligation to financially support your child if they lose their job. I really get it! However, you control your money and other resources, and it is okay to decide not to support them as much. Again, I also have a kid, and I know that’s easier said than done. However, if you are this stressed about their job situation, then take back control of your resources. Decide what you would be willing to do (and not do) if they needed your assistance again. And who knows, maybe your child would not even think to rely on their parents again! Maybe they already have a back-up plan that doesn’t involve you at all.

    11. Prof_Murph*

      #3 – While I understand that there’s concern about the daughter’s living situation and how that may impact the family, the mother should not be this involved in her daughter’s employment conditions. The daughter is an adult (presumably in her mid 20s if she has a master’s) and the mother really needs to cut the apron strings. And the daughter needs to learn whatever professional lessons might come out from her situation (e.g., if she is requesting too much time off and there’s repercussions, so be it). Hate to pull the trope of a heli-copter parent, but this is a classic example.

  5. Beth*

    OP3, I mean this kindly: You need to stop tracking or worrying about how much time your daughter takes off work, and more broadly about how she handles her career.

    She’s an adult. What level of time off and remote work is acceptable is between her and her manager; as her parents, you aren’t part of that conversation. Plus, it doesn’t sound to me like you have much reason to worry! She’s competent enough that she’s managed to attain multiple degrees (philosophy may not be directly relevant to her job, but successfully completing multiple higher-ed programs is a reasonable sign that she’s capable of figuring out what the parameters are for success at a given venture and then meeting them). And she’s telling you she’s doing well and meeting benchmarks. Trust her on that.

    And even if it is a problem, it’s not YOUR problem. You have no power here; you can’t decide how she’s going to act, and you can’t decide whether her company is going to accept it or not. All you’re going to accomplish by thinking about this stuff is stressing yourself out and possibly (if you pester her about it enough) straining your relationship with your daughter. If there are specific spots where you think it does directly affect you (for example, if you think she’s counting on you as a backup plan if this doesn’t work out), you can be clear about what you can and can’t offer in that regard…but beyond that, it’s past time to stop paying attention to how often she’s absent from work.

    1. Ico*

      The problem with this is that she isn’t really an adult if losing her job means her parents return to supporting her financially 100%. That’s not a typical relationship dynamic between adults and as long as it persists, she can’t also demand to be treated like one.

      This particular worry is probably unfounded and the worrying isn’t accomplishing anything for the OP, but just saying “hands off your adult children” doesn’t address the underlying issue.

        1. JSPA*

          1. That’s not the question asked, though. Admittedly, if OP has specific fears about the kid’s ability to fully launch, paying for a session with a financial counselor or having a discussion about longer-term planning may make both OP and kid feel better, but that’s outside the scope of the question.

          2. “don’t help” may or may not even be reasonable. Let’s say they live in NYC, the Bay area, or some other place where even what would elsewhere be a good job at a handsome salary doesn’t guarantee you don’t live in your car. Or maybe there are other issues in play.

          OP wants to know if this is way out of the ordinary, or if there are red flags. The only people who really need to weigh in are those in remote direct sales of product that can be delivered by the web (assuming this software can be)…and the rest of us, who can point out that in some workplaces, “hitting targets” is the goal; in others, “hitting targets” is the floor, and the goal needs to be “exceeding targets.” OP could, I suppose, make sure that the kid has ascertained which sort of workplace this is (if kid is not used to parsing working terminology, and has a history of essentialist thinking and unwarranted assumptions based on that–something that can be attractive to the mindset that makes philosophy attractive). But if the kid says “this is the correct metric and the way my workplace works,” then…it’s probably the correct metric and the way that workplace works.

          1. Quill*

            Yeah, “don’t help” is not reasonable in most places, not just the most expensive cities in america. 1 year post graduation is not a normal time frame for achieving full independence in most industries, and hasn’t been for well over a decade now.

            That said, seconded on the financial counselor because they will have their finger on the workplace pulse for new hires far more than the parents. :)

            1. Observer*

              There is no real reason to believe that a financial adviser will know what makes sense in the context of the daughter’s work place. There are just way to many variables. And it’s not really their focus.

          2. Observer*

            Which is a long way of saying that daughter will never be an “adult” unless and until OP decides that sais daughter will be able to live on her own if she loses her job.

            And, since she’s not and adult till Parent decides she is, they get to weigh in on her job performance despite having absolutely no insight or useful information about the matter.

            If Parent is unable to be the safety net, then they are unable to be the safety net. And talking about how living in a HCOL area makes this a problem does not change that. The bottom line is that Daughter *IS* an adult and thus SHE is the one who needs build her own safety net. It’s not the parent’s place to decide otherwise.

          3. A*

            I’m not sure I follow on #2. I’m from a high cost living city, and graduated college a financial orphan in the down economy where there were NO jobs (temp agencies not accepting new applicants, McDonalds and Petco not even hiring etc.) and while I wouldn’t wish my circumstances on anyone, I don’t buy the whole ‘parent’s supporting you’ thing as the only/best option. Ten years later, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those in my social group that were forced to figure it out on their own, are by and large more independent & financially stable, than my friends that were able to fall back on a family safety net / move back home / have them supplement their income etc.

            Especially since we all, to a certain extent, choose where we live etc. I’m not seeing how cost of living comes into play.

      1. Uldi*

        And what underlying issue is that? She states she is meeting her quotas. She works remotely while taking this time off. Her boss allows her to take this time off. Where is the issue?

        We know nothing about this company other than it is a start-up. Even that isn’t all that useful, since there is no concrete definition of what a start-up is that would tell us what the company expects from its employees.

        1. Ico*

          No issue at work, most likely. I bet everything there is fine. By underlying problem I meant in their relationship.

      2. JamieS*

        We don’t really know if she has to have her parents support her. We just know OP would be willing to support her but maybe the daughter’s perfectly capable of providing for herself if she had to. Regardless even if she would fall flat on her face without OP, OP involving themselves in her job isn’t going to help anything. Right now it’s just OP worrying about her but that could plausibly quickly lead to OP trying to contact her employer directly, OP giving her bad advice that’s out of sync with her company’s culture and plausibly workplace norms in general, OP causing tension in their relationship if the daughter is/becomes resentful of OP’s involvement in her career, etc.

        Also OP probably doesn’t have an accurate idea of how much time the daughter took off since she worked remotely and OP likely doesn’t know the work expectations of her office (measured by meeting sales vs measured by hours clocked in). If she met all her quotas for that week/month/whatever metric is used maybe that combined with the remote work means her employer only views it as her taking a day or two off which isn’t bad or even remotely close to being so.

        1. TheCommenterFormerlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

          Right. Also it’s possible that OP is coming from a “butts in seat” point of view. A lot of older people (of which I am one) only ever had jobs that required them to be *at work* in order for it to count.

          1. Sorrischian*

            OP says she worked in a hospital lab, which I think explains a lot – labs today are often badly understaffed (maybe it was better when OP was working, but I doubt it), the job is entirely work that has to be done on-site, and hospitals are notoriously bad about overwork and not giving employees enough time off.

            I still think Alison’s advice and the other commenters’ suggestions to take a step are totally correct, but coming from a job with these sorts of expectations about time off might explain some of that anxiety.

        2. Ico*

          “We are desperate for her to keep this job — and if she loses it, we’ll have to support her until she finds another job”

          The OP straight up says they would have to support her, not just that they are willing to.

            1. JSPA*

              The assertion that OP “doesn’t have to” house the kid may be reasonable, based on your own history and those of your friends, or the housing market where you live. In my city, section 8 is so far backlogged (by several years) that they stopped taking applications over a year ago. We’re short tens of thousands of affordable housing units. The emergency shelters are turning people away. People with a couch who’s willing to have a friend couch-surf, is already doing so; it’s rendered more complex due to local statutes that prevent more than a certain number of unrelated people in a unit (whether that’s a single family home or an apartment). It’s formally illegal for a family of three plus two unrelated people to live in a 6 bedroom house. (Also quite difficult, in terms of zoning and permitting and being required to bring the entire structure up to modern code and mortages and insurance, to legally divide such a house into two separate units.)

              We’re historically one of the most affordable cities in our region (surrounded by more expensive exurbs, and those in turn by areas with ongoing high unemployment) so moving a bit away doesn’t help. Waves of gentrification just add up to more overall displacement.

              There are literally a hundred other cities in the US where the cost of living is even further out of kilter with the wealth and savings of >70% of the residents.

              It’s actually pretty staggeringly likely that OP does, in fact, have to house the kid, or see them living in their car, or under a bridge. That’s before taking student loans into account, even. (Not sure how many philosophy grad programs offer full ride scholarships, but I’m guessing it’s not many.)

              1. JamieS*

                That doesn’t change anything as far as OP’s obligation. They may choose to support their kid who’s an adult. They don’t HAVE to.

                1. Lara*

                  Absolutely. I’ve also known plenty of parents who complained about supporting their kids. They were, however, doing far more than supporting. It’s one thing to provide the basics of food, clothing, and shelter when it’s difficult to do. It’s another to buy your child the latest iPhone the day of release and then complain you have to support your 28 year old.

                  If it were my child, I’d make sure they had food, clothing, and shelter. I wouldn’t be buying anything optional.

                  First thing LW needs to decide is what is the bare minimum they’d do and what would they not do. For example, does the daughter have student loans? What happens if she’s unemployed?

                2. EventPlannerGal*

                  I think that haggling over the specific definition of “have to” is probably not very helpful here. There are all kinds of things that we aren’t legally obliged to do that we nonetheless feel that we have to do, where the result of not doing them would be unacceptable to us for whatever reason. Telling her “oh, but you don’t HAVE to, you don’t LEGALLY HAVE TO” just doesn’t seem constructive at all to me.

                3. Emily K*

                  Seconding EventPlannerGal – technically speaking, the only things we HAVE TO do in life are eat, breathe, void, and sleep. Everything else, including the laws we follow, are things we choose to do. Many of those choices don’t feel like choices because the consequences of making a different choice feel unacceptable to us – like breaking a law and ending up in jail or having to pay a substantial fine, or like your daughter becoming homeless.

                  I visited a very poor country once that had a 0% effective homeless rate despite extreme poverty and housing shortages (and a communist regime that tightly controlled access to housing). The reason they had no homeless was because instead, they had typically 10-12 people living in each 2-3 bedroom home. In that country, it was simply culturally unacceptable to allow a relative to become homeless. Families would sooner take their brother-in-law in to live on the couch than allow the BIL to sleep in a park. A family who wouldn’t take in a relative would be shamed and ostracized, no matter how loose the family tie – you are expected to take care of your own.

                  In the US there’s perhaps more social acceptability on a culture-wide level to leaving a family member to fend for themselves than in that extreme example, but for many individual families or parents, it’s still not an idea they will entertain. Even if they don’t want to be on the hook, they don’t see it as optional.

                4. Observer*

                  No, the parents REALLY do NOT “have” to support their daughter if she loses her job. I don’t just mean legally, but morally.

                  They might “have” to give her a place to stay, but unless they are planning to downsize significantly, that’s not a huge cost that should make them “desperate”.

                5. EventPlannerGal*

                  @Observer – I’m not saying that they have an objective moral obligation to support their daughter, or even that I think they ought to. I’m saying that they may very well believe that they do according to their own personal moral beliefs and consider withdrawing that support to be an unacceptable choice. As Emily K pointed out, that is not an unusual belief at all for many people. A bunch of Internet commenters going “but you don’t HAVE to!! It’s not the LAW!” are unlikely to change someone’s belief that they ought to support their family members in times of hardship, and does not seem at all useful in answering the OPs actual question regarding appropriate amounts of holiday.

                6. Avasarala*

                  The idea that parents don’t have to support their children as young adults as they struggle to become financially independent is very very unusual in my experience. If there’s no abuse involved and the parent has the financial means, personally I think it’s immoral to choose not to help your child just because they’re legally over 18. That’s like refusing to help your aging parent because they’re an adult.

                  There are few cultures/situations where most people would say that family members have no moral obligation to help each other.

              2. AnotherAlison*

                No, the daughter will have to FIO. The daughter is educated and has a good job now. I’m sure she can come up with a solution that doesn’t involve her mom’s home. She may even have money saved (or have access to credit) so she can pack up and move far out of her current location if needed. I know that everyone has different life circumstances and some locations are harder to get by in than others, but I have a fairly large extended family, and the only time I have seen an educated, capable adjust child rely on parental support is when there is a codependent situation. I’ve seen that a lot, but it’s just enabling, not because the child could not survive if the parent pulled their support.

              3. RUKiddingMe*

                I get all of that. I’m from Silicon Valley and currently live in Seattle. I’m saying that OP has no requirement to support their adult offspring.

              4. A*

                Under what circumstances does that translate to the parents HAVING to support their adult child? You’re listing very specific circumstances for what you believe to be reasons the parents SHOULD.

            2. SimplyTheBest*

              OP says they do so you should take her at her word. Maybe it would be different for you. Maybe you could see your child with no income and no where to live and just say “sorry kid, figure it out.” But other people can’t. If OP says she has to support her, even if that “have to” is only her own conscious telling her so, then she has to. All this back and forth nitpicking over what “have to” means is rude and unhelpful to OP.

          1. Beth*

            They don’t have to, is the thing. It’s possible that the alternatives are things they wouldn’t be willing to tolerate (for example, if it would mean her not having safe housing or not having enough to eat, it would be hard for anyone to refuse to help a loved one in that kind of situation). But it is still a choice on some level. They’re allowed to say no; they’re not legally responsible for providing for her anymore.

            And more broadly, don’t we all have a point where we might need help? I know I do–I don’t expect it to happen, I’ve got a stable position and solid savings, but if I were to, say, get laid off, and not be able to find an equivalent-level job for several months, and then have a medical emergency in the interim, then yeah, I might well be asking my parents (and family and friends more broadly) for support. I think most people who aren’t millionaires can envision some kind of situation where we might hit that point. That doesn’t make us collectively not adults.

            1. Anonomoose*

              I actually have been trying to turn this into a useful metric, because I think it’s an important part of the conversation about how well off someone is/ general poverty levels

              Something like the number of disasters needed to be homeless, but I’m trying to phrase it better.

            2. Washi*

              Yeah, I think the point people are trying to make about the “have to support her” thing is that the OP is painting herself into a corner unnecessarily.

              The sense I got from the letter is that the OP is basically saying “I am on some level financially responsible for her, therefore I have some right, and some obligation even, to make sure my daughter doesn’t lose her job.” And I think people are trying to decouple these things for OP. The OP can simply decide what level of help would feel ok to her, regardless of how the daughter came to need that help, and let the rest go. Because it doesn’t sound like the help would actually be conditional on the daughter following OP’s advice, it’s seems more like the OP is just really concerned and afraid for the daughter and is falling back on the “but we might have to support you!” out of habit.

              1. A*

                This is very well written and explains what I’ve been thinking so much more elegantly than I ever could!

      3. LDN Layabout*

        Saying someone isn’t an adult if they cannot support themselves is really ugly and infantalising.

          1. Rabbit*

            There are many cultures where it is normal for several generations to live together and be much more intertwined than we are used to. There are disabled people who will always require some degree of external support- and who have no choice but to get it from their parents. What about people who have their parents provide childcare? There are millions and millions without a big enough safety net to manage on their own for a few months but that doesn’t mean they can’t manage an adult relationship with their parents if they have to move back in or get other support

            1. sir limpsalot*

              Thank you for this. As a disabled adult who needs the support of my parents, it does not feel good when people infantilise me because of it. I am an adult.

            2. Quill*

              +1 a lot of people who claim you’re not an adult unless you “don’t live with your parents anymore” or whatever metric they’ve arbitrarily decided on don’t realize how much of a safety net parents are for the people they think are doing adulting right. Whether it comes to childcare, having been able to pay for your education, feeding and housing you while you spent 6 months trying to find a job that actually pays you enough to get your own place – even just telling you which mechanic in town that they trust.

            3. yala*

              Thank you.

              I don’t live with my parents, but I know people who do, or who have needed to. One of my good friends and her husband lived with her parents for a few years while they worked and built up enough of a nest egg to move out to a nice place. Her parents were happy to have them. They are both educated and working, but the economy is frankly terrible.

              It doesn’t make people less of an adult to need help.

            4. Daisy*

              Yes! I recently read an article about millennials who actually own their own home. The vast majority of them were only able to do it with the assistance of family – inheritance or buying the house with other family members or getting a loan from a family member. At first, I was judgmental when I read all of those, but then my partner reminded me that this is how the world has functioned forever. It’s a relatively new phenomenon that we’re supposed to support ourselves without assistance. And I did think about our friends with homes – they got at least minor help from their parents (some money to help fix it up or new appliances) – and we will get help too.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                Exactly. My parents…boomers needed financial help to buy their first house. And they both worked good jobs in a Much better economy.

              2. Artypical_Mind*

                I’m one of those millennials. I work in STEM and got off relatively lightly during the recession – I managed to land my first permanent job a few months before the bottom fell out – and I still would never have been able to afford my place if my parents weren’t willing to let me live at home rent-free while I saved up the down payment.

          2. JSPA*

            That’s a bit myopic, both culturally and historically. I think you’d be surprised how many of the august figures in your history books (let alone the average adult) lived “at home” for much of their adult lives. “Becoming an adult” and “setting up a household” have been separable, distinct concepts for practically all of recorded history.

            Granted, there are many people and many situations where getting the hell out of the house is the only way to chart a self-determined course in life; I don’t mean to denigrate that as a goal or ideal for anyone who’s suffering. And there are certainly cultures where “out the door at 18” is the theoretical norm. But it’s not the only right way to be an adult.

            1. Lara*

              As someone else pointed out, this model of adulthood is post-WWII America for some. It shouldn’t be taken as the typical situation or even the desirable one.

              What’s so horrible about helping your family, your friends, your community? What’s so admirable about rugged independence? Is it admirable even if it means people suffer?

              1. Quill*

                And even in post WW2 this was generally not true across the board – it was pretty common, even if we’re talking about people who went on to live a leave it to beaver type life, for adult daughters to not leave their parents’ home until marriage. (Part of it was structural barriers to financial independence…)

                1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

                  Immigrant groups, too. My parents are third-generation Italian-American and Irish-American. Their respective parents expected “the kids” would stay home until they married or enlisted in the military and were living in military accommodations. Both of my parents got jobs fairly young and were paying over 50% of their wages to their parents as rent, and also were expected to do a significant portion of household chores, like sibling childcare, driving around elderly relatives, etc.

                2. Aitch Arr*

                  My mother, her parents, her grandmother, and her aunts all lived in the same household in the 40s/50s until the aunts got married. This was a Greek-American family in Boston.

          3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Shoot. I have more than one friend who lives with their parents to support their parents financially rather than the other way around. Their parents work minimum wage or less jobs (e.g. day labor, housekeeper, sweatshop worker, migrant laborer). Does that make it no longer an adult relationship? Are the parents suddenly no longer adults

            1. RUKiddingMe*


              So many people see only the US, post WW2 nuclear family model as the default. It is do not universal…even in the US.

              I sold my house and moved across the country at age 45.

              I moved into my mom’s house for the first time since I was 18.

              She was dying and needed help. But…I guess I wasn’t an adult…

          4. Sacred Ground*

            So, when I lost my job and had to stay with my parent for a year, I was no longer an adult at 48 years old? Or you think I never was one in the first place?

        1. Xer*


          And it’s privileged in many other ways.

          What if someone lives in a poor rural area with no jobs? On a reservation Mike’s from any economic oppirtunity?

          What if someone has a disability that makes it difficult to find work?

          What if one is a minority who can’t find decent work because of prejudice?

          It’s not as if anyone who wants a decent paying job is automatically going to get it.

          We currently have low unemployment, but many people are underemployed and undercompensated.

          The myth that anyone who wanted to be a self sufficient adult could be so just needs to die in a fire.

          1. JamieS*

            It’s privilege to have parents who can and will fully support you as an adult. Also if any of that other than disability, were the case wouldn’t the parent also have the same issue. Why is it okay for another adult to take from one that’s also struggling? This isn’t multiple generations living together and contributing. It’s one generation taking from another.

            1. Lara*

              That privilege doesn’t erase the types of privilege Xer is calling out.

              Not sure what you mean about parents having the same issue. That’s not clear.

              As for taking from someone who is struggling, that’s a moral and ethical judgement. Some cultures think children are launched at 18 and shouldn’t go back to their parents. Others think everyone struggles together.

              As for “one generation taking from another,” I have no idea what, if anything, the daughter does to contribute.

              I also would counter that LW doesn’t seem to me to feel unwillingly exploited. Rather, LW seems more concerned about the other aspects about her child’s failure to launch.

              Relying on another, even when they are struggling ,isn’t per se exploitation. If LW says it’s exploitative, then I’ll take them at their word. But they haven’t said that.

              1. JamieS*

                Xer usn’t calling out privilege. They are taking a privileged position and trying to make it the non-privileged position. It’s incredibly privileged to be able to rely on the bank of mom and dad and saying that’s not privilege but not having that luxury is privilege is ludicrous and takes away from actual issues of privilege.

                As far as IP I don’t know what their specific situation is or if they’re being exploited. I was responding to Xer’s assertion that involved living in an economically depressed area where nearly everyone is struggling. In that scenario it is exploitation to just take which again is different from multiple generations putting their resources together.

                1. Gaia*

                  I completely get your point, but it isn’t necessarily privilege.

                  I am from a culture where children do not leave home until they are married. And even then, it isn’t uncommon for the new couple to live in the family home. This is because, historically, there was extreme poverty and the only way to survive was as a unit. It wasn’t “the bank of mom and dad” it was “together we may live, separate we’ll all perish.”

                  While my family didn’t follow this route, a huge portion of my extended family does. They view us as having the privilege because the parents can make do without the help of the children in the house and the children can make do without having their parents’ help. Separate, we can live.

            2. Yorick*

              It’s not necessarily privilege. There are plenty of poor minority families that have multiple generations living in one household. They all contribute to the household in different ways.

              1. NotAnotherManager!*


                This sums up where my spouse is from pretty handily. In a poor, rural community, extended family living together is the only way anything works. Grandparents care for grandchildren while parents work (if they are able), pooling money for volume buying is the only way to have enough food, and even having multiple buildings on a property for nuclear families to live separately is a luxury. The kids, in turn, take care of parents/grandparents as they age. It’s not failure to launch; it’s survival. (And you’re not going to “just move!” when your support system is there and the family land doesn’t transfer to a new location.)

                The “bank of mom and dad” idea is really one of the upper-middle class and has nothing to do with underemployment, poverty, or multi-generational homes. It is a very small sliver of the world who is being housed in a five-bedroom home, given their own car, and provided the latest iPhone free of charge. (I live amongst these people, and they truly have no idea how the rest of the world truly struggles and are also some of the worst for the up-by-the-bootstraps mentality, not realizing that scoring a run is not that hard when you were born on third base.)

            3. Aspie AF*

              “It’s one generation taking from another”

              Like those who voted for the governments that cut job diversification programs to prop up dying industries?

        2. A*

          Ya, there’s an important distinction between ‘being an adult’ and ‘being financially independent’

      4. RUKiddingMe*

        No one, including OP is saying the daughter is demanding to be supported by her parents *if* she were to lose her job.

        It’s very likely that it’s a manifestation if feelings of responsibility on OP’s part.

        Which I think is probably the underlying issue rather than the daughter making demands.

        1. Ico*

          The OP says they would “have” to support her. Whether she’s demanding it or not doesn’t change the problem in the relationship.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Many people say have to do something when they mean they are choosing to do something. Well of course I have to pay for my kid’s college education. No actually you don’t. You can choose to do it and many do. But it is not a requirement.

            Same here, mom is from the default that of course you support your kids whenever they need it, so you have to do it.

            Mom needs to realize that have to and should are two different concepts. While you should provide reasonable help to your children, you don’t have to.

      5. Fikly*

        No, she’s an adult, she’s just not a self-sufficient adult. Not being able to support yourself doesn’t make you a child.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          How do we know she’s not self-sufficient?

          All we have is an OP who seems out of touch with modern work practices stressing out.

      6. Beth*

        Based on her years of schooling, she’s almost definitely over 21. That’s an adult by any reasonable definition. There’s also nothing here suggesting that she’s expecting to return to her parents fully supporting her. There’s nothing suggesting that she isn’t saving money, or that her job is actually at risk. Even if she does lose it for some reason–let’s say the startup goes under next month–there’s no reason to think she wouldn’t be able to find another job; it sounds like this one took her from a pretty empty resume (lots of school, not so much career track work) to having recent professional experience, and that can make a huge difference. She sounds like she’s got things pretty under control, to me!

        If her parents are unable or unwilling to offer support, it’s reasonable to have one conversation where they say “Just so you’re aware, if anything happens, we can do A and B, but we can’t do X or Y.” But that’s about the only input they get here. Trying to insist on having a say beyond that is only going to cause problems, the way that trying to take responsibility for things you can’t actually control pretty much always causes problems. What are they going to do, call her manager to confirm it was actually okay for her to take that time? Nag her endlessly about her work life not looking exactly like they expect? Sit around stressing about things they can’t change? None of those are good options. It’s better for everyone if they just focus on being clear about boundaries and then let their daughter handle her life from there.

        1. Misty*

          Also, it’s kind of amusing how deep this commentary has gone.

          Mom thinks just asking for vacation days is going to get daughter fired and on their door step!!

          Not only infantilizing the daughter but the boss as well!!

          As if boss wouldn’t just say no and/or initiate a conversation about time off norms at that company!!!

      7. Mookie*

        Your definition of adulthood and what “normal” relationships between adult children and their parents look like is not universal. At all. It defies known reality and erases cultures that don’t resemble the one you appear to believe is the default.

        And, of course, the daughter can ask or “demand” or just DO anything she wants.

        1. Ico*

          Would those cultures also have people saying that a parent should be totally hands off about their child’s choices too? People here are pretty resoundingly saying it’s none of OP’s business (which I agree with), but you can’t have it both ways.

          1. Xer*

            Some do, yes.

            I’ve lived in one.

            The fact that you’ve never seen it is about YOU, not reality.

            There are communal cultures that wrap people in support structures while allowing individuals adult autonomy.

            I f you think this is impossible, please go read about how communal cultures deal with adulthood. It’s not out job to educate you on this.

            You are flat wrong in this and being insulting to those of us who have lived it.

          2. doreen*

            That’s something I think people are not acknowledging – “not having an adult relationship with your parents” doesn’t necessarily mean you are a child , but it does imply that your parents don’t treat you the same as they would if you were completely independent and moved out of their home. In different ways , from deciding if the house is shoes-on or shoes-off, to wanting to know if you will be out overnight to criticizing your decisions about how to raise your children or spend your money , to expecting you to petsit while they are on vacation , they are likely to treat you more like a child than a roommate.

            And TBH, in my experience the same thing goes for parents who end up being supported by their kids – it’s very difficult to get a “two adult roommate ” relationship.

            1. Lara*

              My experience is that parents who do this will do it irrespective of the living arrangements.

              Many parents can’t treat their children like adults.

              The issue of parenting your parents is different. It’s not a continuation of a relationship that existed at one point, it’s the inversion of the prior relationship in favor of something new.

              1. doreen*

                My experience is that some do this no matter regardless of the living arrangements , some don’t do it regardless of the living arrangements and there’s a big group in the middle that would for, example , expect that if they are going to provide financial support to their adult child, that child should adjust his or her schedule around the parent’s schedule to provide house/pet sitting , an expectation they wouldn’t have of a child who moved out. Or would feel free to criticize an adult child’s financial choices while the parent is helping the child pay his mortgage every month in a way they wouldn’t if the child were completely independent.

              2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                Truth. Mr. Gumption has not lived at home since he was 18. He’s never had any support from his parents for school, living expenses, etc. because he was ROTC. His parents still don’t treat him like an adult and he is damned near 50. He’s resigned to the fact that they probably never will. Oddly enough, they treat me like a fully fledged adult, despite me being younger than him and his little sister, so when adult issues need to be discussed the sibs have me broach the topic.

                Families are weird.

                1. NotAnotherManager!*

                  Yep. I have an aunt who lived at home her whole adult life. It was a real boon to my grandparents as she contributed to the household financially and otherwise. There is no way my grandparents would have been able to stay there as they aged without her assistance, and she ultimately handled all their end-of-life health issues and arrangements.

                  Yet still, one of her siblings and one of her aunts treats her like a child who doesn’t understand the “real world” because she always lived with her parents. But you didn’t see any of them coming to relieve her when she was spending her days in an endless loop of hospitals and doctors and nursing homes, all while working full-time and maintaining the house.

                  It’s infuriating.

          3. Myrin*

            I mean, I am from one (and also in such a situation – I share a flat with my mum and sister), so, well, possibly yes.

            But I also think it’s a bit too broad a question to ask – what’s “totally hands-off about choices”? Does that mean not caring at all? Where does “gives advice if asked but leaves the choice to [person]” fall on this? Where does “gives unwanted advice but still leaves eventual choice to [person]” fall? What about choices that intertwine because they pertain to the whole household? And for that matter: Would it be really accurate to say parents are expected to be totally hands-off about their children’s choices even in individualist cultures? And so forth.

            1. Quill*

              I currently live with my parents, and while it took a while to get there, we established ground rules of

              1) we will inform each other of plans that require the use of the house and adjust those plans based on priority.
              2) We will inform each other when we’re going to vary significantly from our normal routine – for example, “I’m going to be gone all weekend at a friend’s” or “i’m coming home at 11 pm, just so you know it’s not a burglar,” is worthy but “I picked up milk and went to the library after work” is not. (Of course, depending on who cooks, you roll the dice on dinner availability.)
              3) The house is maintained approximately to the homeowner’s specifications, as in, I clean my own spaces independently and pitch in elsewhere according to schedule and ability.

              I don’t think parents are entirely hands off with their kids in any culture unless there is absolutely no contact. At minimum, there will always be the advice and the “come spend christmas with us!” type requests.

            2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              I haven’t lived at home since high school and my parents still have opinions/advice about what I am doing and I still occasionally ask their advice. Only parents I know that are fully “hands-off” are the ones estranged from their children

              1. Quill*

                yeah, of the people I know who have 100% “hands off” parents as adults, it’s either because their parents were neglectful and always have been, or they cut contact because their parents are abusive.

      8. Dahlia*

        Being poor does not make you a child. This is a status true of millions of people these day, and that’s honestly really condescending. She’s in at least her 20s and maybe even pushing 30.

        At what point does a 20+ year old with a master’s degree and a job become an adult to you?

      9. Xer*

        “Not a typical relationship dynamic”

        Citation needed.

        My grand uncle fought at Omaha Beach and then went back and lived with his parents for 10 years before moving out and getting married. He was financially dependent on his parenrs, but I guarantee you, he was an adult. Not once did his parents try to shame him or boss him around.

        There are a lot of Americans who have been conditioned to think moving out and being financially independent is the default, almost universal marker of adulthood in the USA. It’s not.

        Being able to do this and thinking it’s “nornal” comes from a position of cultural privilege. Not all American subcultures think this way. Not everyone can do what you suggest.

        Many of my veteran clients a PTSD rely on family for financial support. I assure you that they are adults.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Add me to the “harrump” list. OP’s daughter might be living at home and not paying her own way — but that doesn’t means he’s not an adult. And it doesn’t mean everyone living at home doesn’t contribute.
          My father was living with his parents when he enlisted in WWII. My mother was living with *and supporting* her mother when dad proposed just before going overseas. She found a better job near her inlaws, and moved there for the duration.
          I lived with my mother for 4 years when I moved back to NYC during a real estate boom – she flat-out told me it would be ridiculous to have her alone in a 3BR house while I paid exhorbitant rent. She refused rent, but accepted half the utilities & grocery runs, me making dinner when she was too tired to cook, and all the yard work she was getting too old to do.
          Sorry for the rant, it’s obviously one of my hot-buttons.

          1. Quill*

            The work of living is in general, not feasible to do as an individual long term. Convenience food, delivery, and other services only go so far, and the trade off for using them is generally even *less* time to accomplish the work of living, i.e. working more or commuting longer in order to pay for them.

            Honestly I think there are, historically, a lot of people who partnered up solely because doing the work and also obtaining the money to support yourself individually is so difficult.

          2. Elise*

            My family has a similar situation. My brother just moved to where I live, following my parents who did the same earlier this year. He was fortunate to sell his condo and get transferred to a job here quickly, but there is no reason for him to rush into buying/renting in a new city he’s unfamiliar with when he can live with my parents. They won’t accept rent from him, but he is very helpful and goes with my mom to get groceries and carry them to the car and into the house for her. He also has an eagle eye on them when they should be seeing a doctor for something they are brushing off. And he’s working and saving money for when he does move out. He is very much an adult and living with my parents doesn’t make him a child or change their relationship that I’ve observed. In my family, this is what we do. We support each other when it’s needed. That doesn’t make anyone less of an adult. My parents lived with me for a few months while they found a house here and they were certainly still adults just as my brother is and you were. OP’s daughter is also an adult, and I don’t think stressing over her leave is going to help anyone in the situation.

      10. Crivens!*

        People are still adults even if they’re unable to be fully financially independent. That’s a seriously classist statement.

        1. Smithy*

          Particularly because is ascribes certain kinds of generational financial support (financial trusts that may mature when children reach adulthood, gifting homes/cars, provision of “early inheritance” in the form of a down payment, loans from family to start a business, jobs in a family business, etc etc) as still maintaining independent adulthood – whereas “lower class” family support in terms of smaller cash payments, multi-generational homes, etc somehow erodes independence.

          1. Elise*

            That is so true! Our Realtor who helped us buy our first house and also helped us sell it and buy our new house raved about how “financially responsible” we were because we had a lot of equity in the house. Well, we are fairly frugal, but my father-in-law gave us several sizable checks to pay down the mortgage to set us up for the future. My parents have treated us to family vacations where we had to pay very little to enjoy the vacation. That was a significant factor in our ability to buy our new house and afford it while not living a joyless existence. Neither of us did a thing to get that money, and I think she was surprised when we told her that we were just lucky. I have friends who aren’t as lucky and they aren’t less responsible than we are.

          2. Harper the Other One*

            Ooh, wow, I had never thought of it that way and holy cow are you right. My parents passed along a portion of an inheritance that allowed me to go to school debt-free and NOBODY implied that made me less independent.

          3. A*

            Ugh, thank you!!! I had a bit of a rough time with my social group in the years after graduating college because I was the only one that was financially independent without outside contributions. It used to *kill* me that in conversation we would all be lumped together… like… no, Bob inherited his parent’s company. Suzy had a trust fund. Bill inherited property. And Molly got wads of $$ from her grandparents just because. NOT THE SAME!

            Also, as someone that went to an international boarding school on scholarship – I’ve seen dozens of examples of people who age-wise are adults, and are financially independent due to trust funds…. who are essentially permanent children. Actually, closer to permanent teenagers.

            1. Smithy*

              I’ve met some people who’ve had a lot of privilege and used it to varying effects. Having generational support isn’t inherently bad or good – but I do think it’s relevant to distinguish how unique it is to be 100% financially self-sufficient and comfortable in your early/mid 20’s in the US. It’s just that some support “doesn’t count” in the same ways as others.

              I was once leaving a bar in West Village and overheard a conversation where a young man was saying “I’m doing so well – right now I just owe my dad $90,000”. That’s a sentence that applies to some people’s lives – and not to others. And hopefully in all of these conversations parents and their children can find a way to communicate with one another as adults.

      11. Ms. Ann Thropy*

        Agreed. If you take Mom’s financial support, don’t be surprised that Mom doesn’t see you as an adult.

        1. Gaia*

          So should I stop seeing my mother as an adult because she has sometimes needed financial support from me?

          This is ridiculous.

        2. Sacred Ground*

          Don’t be surprised that Mom doesn’t see you as an adult EVER, no matter your education, work experience, or living situation.

      12. Koala dreams*

        It’s actually very common for adults, especially family, to function as a support network to each other. The problem seems to be that it’s the unemployed parent that supports the working daughter, when one would expect it to be the other way around.

        To the letter writer: Congratulate your daughter on her new job. It’s great she found a job where she is allowed to work remotely, that kind of work is very popular nowadays. Later, sit down with her a day when you both have time and discuss how your family support network is going to change now that your daughter has entered the workforce.

      13. Smithy*

        I know you’re getting a lot of push back about how for generations and in a number of different cultures – generational financial support is simply not as clear cut as “adulthood”. Whether it’s the wealthier versions of receiving a trust or being hired by a family business – or versions such as multi-generational homes – it’s a very recent American view that complete financial independence (that of course does not include who pays for a wedding or inheritance) determines adulthood.

        The issue here isn’t so much though about the financial support, but rather how the OP is talking to her daughter about it. The OP may be perfectly happy to support the daughter financially in a number of ways through adulthood. Whether that’s subsidizing her costs to travel home, go on family vacations, pay for her wedding, provide a down payment for home ownership – who knows? Some families do all of that. Some do none of that. Sometimes it’s about means, other times philosophies.

        However, if the OP is not willing to have a conversation with her daughter about how their financial relationship will look now that she’s out of school/working – that’s where the parent/child dynamic is a problem. If the daughter is living in a different city and she does lose her job – for whatever reason – how would the parents be willing to help? And for how long? Those are all adult conversations that can happen.

        If the OP feels as “the mom” she needs to forever come in when trouble hits and smooth things over for “the child” – then yes, that’s an area for them to address. But talking directly and honestly about money is a huge way to treat everyone at the table like an adult. Regardless of who’s paying for what.

        1. Washi*

          I agree with this. This isn’t about how an adult should or shouldn’t support another adult, but about communicating expectations and boundaries.

          1. Smithy*

            Yup – also, while trying not to make any major assumptions about the OP, I can also sympathize with trying to game out everything that can go wrong where you’d want to support financially (loss of job, loss of health, loss of housing…)- on top of perhaps thinking about everything that can be wonderful and you’d want to support financially (marriage, children, home ownership). Thinking about all of that while looking at your finances, thinking about retirement, etc etc – sounds like a nasty recipe to exacerbate anxiety.

            There aren’t necessarily right or wrong choices in what support looks like. Provided it doesn’t involve crimes or ruining yourself financially in the process. But discussing it openly may both help putting at ease some anxiety – as well as helping everyone retain their independence and adulthood.

      14. Nanani*

        Good to know millions of people screwed over by graduating into a recession and predatory student loans “aren’t really adults”.

      15. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

        Mom hasn’t had a paying job in decades. By your logic, the daughter is more of an adult than her.

      16. Starbuck*

        “That’s not a typical relationship dynamic between adults” I had to laugh. Isn’t that the relationship that mom currently has? The relationship that, sadly, many women end up in? Beyond that, many, many adults are financially dependent on others, whether a spouse, parent, or other arrangement. Adult children leaving the family household as a marker of adulthood is also not a thing everywhere.

    2. Ms Cappuccino*

      The only worry I would have is that she works too much and become exhausted. Working remotely while in vacation isn’t reasonable unless your position is so high it cannot be avoided.
      The amount of vacation she took doesn’t seem specially high to me (unless the family trip in June was very very long ?). I took 3 weeks of vacation in the last 6 months and that is considered normal where I work.
      I assume the daughter takes the time off she’s entitled to in her contract and that her boss would deny it she had tried to take more.

      1. Mainely lobster*

        Clearly you are in a back office position not sales!

        I have never had a vacation where I haven’t worked!

        1. Anononon*

          My dad is a salesman (almost 100% commission), and he doesn’t work on most of the vacations he takes (several a year). He’s also very good at what he does and has likely kept the company afloat for the last fifteen years (was the main/only sales person for most of that time).

        2. Parenthetically*

          That’s… definitely not something to brag about, nor should it be normal, nor is it healthy or good.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It’s also possible she went to the family reunion and her “some remote work” was actually a full 8 hours skewed into hours that OPMom doesn’t consider working hours. If OP’s daughter logged on at 4am to work with Australia, would OP even have known about it?

      3. A*

        We don’t know the details of the arrangement OP’s daughter had with her employer. I’ve had several instances of ‘being on vacation’ but not using PTO because I’ll be logging on here and there to take care of things. Especially common around the holidays when things get quiet and there might not be a full 8 hours worth of work each day.

    3. Washi*

      I agree with this. There’s a lot of stuff in the comments about our cultural perspectives on adulthood and independence, but the bottom line is that this family is making a transition from the parents supporting the daughter to the daughter being independent financially. The main thing here is for the OP to think through what she would or wouldn’t be willing to offer and under what circumstances, and then communicate that to her daughter. This could be anything from “if you lose your job, you can move back here immediately” to”if you lose your job, I would expect you would take any paying job job and/or move in with roommates rather than relying on us until you find the perfect position” to “our house is only an option if you are literally about to be homeless.”

      But I would take fretting about the daughter’s job off the table – it’s just not productive, since you can’t change someone else’s behavior. I think it’s fine for family members to let someone know, once, if they think their decisions are a huge mistake, but after that, there’s no value added to continuing to worry and nag.

    4. Ele4phant*

      Yeah, I think the thing for me isn’t that parents should NEVER help an adult child if they are struggling. Indeed, sometimes the obstacles are too great and it’s unreasonable to expect someone to figure it out all on their own.

      HOWEVER, what bothers me is not the willingness of LW3 to support her daughter should she need it, its her assumption that of course she will have to.

      By all means, don’t leave your adult child to starve on the streets, BUT, start with the assumption that you raised competent children that will be in charge and capable of figuring out how to get through a hard time. That may include needing to ask for help, but the point is, assume they will be in the driver’s seat for their own life. Don’t stand there, looming over them, ready and expecting to swoop in the instant they encounter some problems. Give them the space to determine their own lives, and to determine if and when they need your help.

      Also – set limits for yourself. You aren’t helping them if giving them assistance means you start drowning yourself financially.

  6. CR*

    “I haven’t had an actual paying job for decades” means you don’t get to judge your daughter’s work ethic or the company’s vacation policies.

    1. MassMatt*

      I’m not sure I can agree, at least not 100%. Yes he may be out of touch having been out of the work force so long but he has been supporting the daughter financially, and for a long time, and anticipates having to do so again if she loses the job.

      It’s not unreasonable for him to be concerned given his financial as well as familial stake.

      1. Observer*

        The point is that they have no clue whatsoever about what is a lot or a little. Because not only is their experience decades out of date, it’s from a totally different type of job where presence is intrinsic to the job, in a way that doesn’t apply to many sales jobs.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Exactly. And the OP is worried, recognizes that their experience is out of date and is asking Alison about it, which is a really reasonable and sensible thing to do.

          And I can understand the OP being jumpy about the prospect of their daughter losing their job and having to be supported. It took a really long time to find this job. There are some parents that would look at their newly unemployed offspring, say “Sucks, but it’s your problem now” and kick them out, knowing that they might end up homeless. But it doesn’t sound like the OP is one of them.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*


          I will never forget my dad’s reaction to the news that (due to a perfect storm of inter-group politics that I hadn’t been aware of) my boss had suddenly and unexpectedly put me on a six-month probation: “Go talk to him and tell him you are willing to work as many hours as he wants you to.” At least dad meant well in the sense of, he was volunteering to watch my then-young children even if I had to bring a cot to work and live there and never come home. But 1) I can only work this many hours before my brain shuts off 2) nobody there wanted me to bring a cot and live at work 3) I was already on a 24/7 on-call rotation and getting good feedback for that from my end users. The reason dad said that was, when he started back in the 70s, that was the norm – growing up, I never saw dad come home before 9, or not go to work on a weekend, or take his full vacation instead of cutting it short and going back to work. Now, or even in the 00s when my probation incident happened, this behavior would just look weird to an employer. And yes, dad and I did work in different fields, like OP and her daughter. So I nodded, smiled, thanked Dad, and did nothing of what he recommended. Worked out great.

          1. Gaia*

            When I was applying for my current job I expressed to my grandfather how much I really wanted to work at this organization, but my field is highly competitive and there were some other aspects about this job that made it unusually desirable. His advise? Offer to work for free for a few weeks and if they like my work, they’ll hire me.

            Thanks, Gramps….

          2. Quill*

            Hard same, it took me 3 years post graduation to train my parents that one does not simply walk into a location to apply for a job… and another 2 to train my mother, specifically, that until you have over a decade of relevant experience, knowing someone doesn’t actually give you a leg up in getting hired or kept on long term. (It works for my mom, who’s in teaching and therefore has a very small but established professional network in town, and my dad, who has 30 years experience in an obscure programming language. It doesn’t work for a kid applying to jobs that say “entry level: bs in any science and 2+ years experience in these job duties.”)

            1. AnonyNurse*

              It isn’t just boomers. I have a cousin who is in her mid-40s who has worked for the same company since finishing college and has done quite well. But she keeps telling me to apply for jobs for which I am objectively not qualified with a “you never know.” Well … yea, I do. I have a health care license and am looking at government jobs. If I’m not qualified, I’m not qualified and I’m not getting past the questionnaire. I’m not aiming too low or not pushing myself. I’m just not wasting my or anyone else’s time applying for a job that I can’t have.

              1. Quill*

                Exactly. Not writing a new cover letter / spending 30 minutes making a new account in a new online portal if the position requires a masters when I don’t have one. It goes through an algorithm and will be thrown out long before a human who might say “well yes, but she has x years of experience and worked at Teapot Corp, that’s prestigious and equivalent!” would ever get near it.

      2. Language Lover*

        There’s being concerned about being clear she understands that her parents aren’t her fallback should she lose her job. And then there’s being concerned about how she’s doing her job. The former is within the control of her parents. But the latter is none of their business.

        I wonder how sure the LW is that their daughter was taking time off as opposed to working remote. If they truly did get PTO, then working while on “vacation” actually indicates more of a strong work ethic than a poor one.

    2. MommieMD*

      Kind of harsh. Mom is definitely over-involved and needs to step back. But if daughter loses job Mom is the first place she is going to look. A job search can be long and hard with that type of degree. I feel OP’s worry but think instead of monitoring daughter’s attendance, she needs to let her know the Bank of Mom is closed.

      1. hbc*

        It’s harsh but true, I think. We’d be all over a parent writing in being “My kid won’t wear a suit to work, he’s going to get fired, right?” Generalized concern about your kid keeping a job is one thing, but specific worry about one aspect when you’ve been reassured by the person who you supposedly respect and who knows more about the job requirements (i.e.: your kid) is unproductive at best.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yeah I was going to say that, if I were the daughter, I’d start saving as much as my paycheck allows. Mom seems to not be willing to offer anymore support if daughter falls on rough times. And that’s mom’s prerogative. From my limited experience, not counting on one’s parents for support is actually liberating in a lot of ways.

      3. Blueberry*

        Well, maybe, maybe not. When I graduated college I swore to myself I’d be homeless before I asked my parents for another dime because 1) they had put me through college which is quite sufficient financial investment in one’s child — I didn’t feel fair in asking them for anything more– and 2) my parents have no sense of boundaries and I was belatedly trying to build some between us, and I knew asking for money would knock that all down. LW’s daughter, in view of some of her parents’s worries and attitudes towards the education she chose, may be building other networks of support.

      4. A*

        Yup. I graduated a financial orphan, and even so my first instinct was to reach out to them when I hit my first major financial hurdle a few years in. It was a very, very harsh – but necessary – life lesson when I finally realized that I was on my own in that regard (my parents are wonderful, loving parents – they just strongly believe in the value of financial independence and finding your own way. I don’t want to make them out to be monsters!). It was painful, but it literally changed my entire perspective on life. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you have no other choice.

        I see a lot of comments about how *of course* the parents will step in, or want to step in, if daughter is about to be homeless. There is a wiiiiiiide spectrum in between ’employed full time in current job’ and ‘homeless’. When I was at rock bottom in that sense, I took on a ‘third job’ by cutting a deal with a local (seedy) motel where I would do afterhours cleaning and bookkeeping in exchange for room and board. It was kind of shady, and came at the sacrifice of sleep, but it helped me get through that year. That’s obviously a super specific example, my point being that there are a million ways to address the issue instead of just ‘whelp, guess I’m homeless now!’

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Based on my mom – 100% agree. The working world is not the same as it was in the 1970s or 1980s. If you haven’t been working in an professional environment for 30 years, then you need to recognize that your experience is very much out of date and thus your advice may be very much not applicable.

      My mom flipped out when my sister took sick leave to take care of her boyfriend after he had surgery for a couple days. She was incapable of understanding that in that environment, NOT taking time off would have reflected poorly on my sister.

  7. Maria Lopez*

    OP3- It sounds like your daughter hasn’t moved out yet. Encourage that so you can stop helicoptering around her. She must be a quarter of a century old by now, so time to let her live her life and HER job.
    This is your problem, not hers.

    1. Maria Lopez*

      And WHO says you’ll have to support her until she finds another job? You don’t have to support her at all, even now. Cut the cord!!

        1. A*

          Omg. There’s a large range of options between full time employment at current job, and homelessness. As someone that went on that journey within the last decade, there are often options – even if you have to get creative. Not always, of course. But often.

          1. Gumby*

            Exactly. My parents would give me a roof over my head and food for my belly. I’d have to move into their house, but I wouldn’t be living on the streets. They would not pay my cell phone bill, buy clothes beyond the necessities, provide electronics, etc. Thankfully, I have not needed that kind of help post college. Sure, my first post-college domicile was a 4 bedroom house with a leaking roof that I shared with 5 other people – but I paid for that rent myself! But it is nice to know the safety net is there if necessary.

            OP should go to the library and check out The Millionaire Next Door and pay particular attention to chapter 4 on economic outpatient care.

    2. It's a Yes From Me*

      And OP, if your daughter is making more sales for the company than she’s costing, she’s more likely to retain her job or find another sales position easily. In many of the organizations I’ve worked with, people who could sell were highly valued.

  8. Lady Heather*

    OP 2: if you don’t act on the poster vandalization, I’d bet you that no person who is being harrassed will trust you to come to you – because it will seem evident you don’t care about addressing the problem.
    I don’t have much workplace experience to support that – but I do have a lot of experience with being bullied in school, and talking to other bullied people, and none of us would ask teachers for help who either 1) didn’t address bullying happening in front of them, or 2) didn’t take it seriously the first time it was brought to them, or 3) said ‘I’ve talked to them, what else do you expect me to do?! (Well, putting a stop to it would be nice – or being a little less understanding and putting them in detention.)
    Because there is something particularly humiliating about asking a person who is supposed to address a matter for help, and essentially being told ‘you and/or this situation isn’t worthy of my time and attention.’

        1. SomebodyElse*

          Apparently the vandalism took place in the men’s bathroom.

          Which also kind of leaves me shaking my head about poster placement… first off isn’t it a law somewhere that posters in bathrooms are fair game for markups? And why is there an inclusion poster in the bathroom to begin with? Are you supposed to ponder the world’s critical issues while tinkling? (Maybe the placement isn’t that unusual.. but it strikes me as an odd place for the poster).

          1. LW2*

            We do bathroom campaigns 2 or 3 times a year with the posters only up for a week only. The idea is it’s very easy to overlook posters normally but this is a captive audience. We don’t want to overuse it though which is why it’s limited.

          2. Amy Sly*

            We have posters in the bathroom over the summer with color pictures. “If your water is this dark, you need to be drinking more!” That makes sense in a bathroom.

        2. MarsJenkar*

          OP said elsewhere that the vandalized poster was in a men’s restroom. Not a viable place for a camera.

    1. RC Rascal*

      My company has policies against removing or defacing any posted announcements (think memos on bulletin boards , posted EAP info, etc.). Doesn’t your company have anything like that? That gives some tooth to address the vandals.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I would lean on that, then. How does your organization resolve other violations of the code of conduct? It should treat the vandalism at least as seriously as other violations.

          1. RUKiddingMe*


            If I worked at OP’s place of business I would feel harassed and targeted by said vandalism.

            I mean what else is it other than blatant misogyny and bigotry?

            It feels…violent.

  9. Lucky black cat*

    #1 As well as asking your team members to loop you in on requests, I think you also need to start building in a bit of contingency time for things you can’t push back on.

    1. Artemesia*

      As manager, she needs to be managing their time — and that means factoring in these add ons and making them part of what she is managing.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*


        And may involve requesting additional resources if LW calculates her team is being asked to run at over full capacity. If the CEO continued to dump surprise projects on the team but that additional work could comfortably be absorbed, it would be a different problem. I got the feeling from the letter that the chief objection had to do with leaving routine work undone.

        1. Bob3*

          OP here. Tried that, because we ARE running well over max capacity with these additional projects. No dice.

      2. JSPA*

        Either that, or make a simple, truly transparent task spreadsheet.

        Task, person/people doing task, person assigning task, deadline, notes including priority.

        Boss can place items on there. So can any team member. Instruct them that, when approached by big boss, they should say, “of course, let me get that on the spreadsheet” pull it up, and ask the boss for the info needed while entering it, while pointing out anything that will need to be pushed back, as a result.

        Either big boss will shelve some ideas that are basically vanity projects, or at least there will be clarity on how much displacement and overlap this causes. It’s also possible that there actually IS enough time in the day and week for all the tasks, and OP is just suffering from the sense of lost control that comes from being last to find out (rather than the arbiter of the task list).

    2. MassMatt*

      Since op says the CEO does this with other departments I would ask the other managers how they deal with it, they may have some useful strategies. I would also consider trying to approach the CEO as a group and see if hearing it from multiple people helps. But that may be too confrontational, it may be that he is always going to be this way, so you need to weigh the pros if the job with this big con.

    3. Bob3*

      OP here. Good idea, will try this.

      However, frequently these assignments are just reshufflings of our current priorities; e.g. “Why isn’t low priority project 1 done already? I want it now, no excuses.” Then, next week the same question is asked of the project we were working on before. It’s hard to build this time into a schedule because it’s so unpredictable from week to week.

      1. Sharon*

        I think this is a slightly different problem than the CEO simply assigning tasks to your people. Rapidly changing priorities can be due to bad communication in the leadership team, severe disorganization, and even worse things like “cult of personality” if the leadership team is afraid to corral the CEO. If any of these are the case, then the solution is a few levels above the OP, although the OP can – delicately (politics) – let the leadership team know how problematic the situation is.

      2. hbc*

        Does he actually get told “Project 2 is late because we had to do Low Priority Project 1, which took X man hours to complete”? You may have to live with it if he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t want to understand that his choices have consequences, but he might start adjusting his behavior and/or expectations.

        You definitely need to get your people to give him context when he asks too. Even if they have to “Yessir” him, it can be “Yes sir, I’ll get right on that, and I’ll let Bob3 know that I’m stopping work on the Other Project until Pet Project is finished.”

        1. Bob3*

          OP here.

          CEO gets this sort of feedback from me, but not anyone else. My team is understandably afraid to be perceived as “talking back” to the CEO.

          I will work with them on this. No reason we can’t be tactful and realistic at the same time.

          1. Important Moi*

            What are you going to tell your staff in terms of talking back?

            I don’t know how to state this gently or eloquently so I’ll just spit it out with the expectation that it might not be well received by some people. I’ll even respond if people have comments to me . The CEO can fire your staff and you. As an employee I’m deferring to the CEO . You can work with your staff on being tactful and realistic… telling your staff how to talk to the CEO doesn’t sit right with me. I think it’s your job not theirs.

            1. Adric*

              OK, but OP isn’t involved in the discussion. The CEO is initiating a conversation directly with the employee. In the moment the employee has to respond with SOMETHING, they can’t just ignore the CEO.

              In that situation, finding a way for the employee to tactfully inform the CEO of the groups current priorities and give some idea of the dislocations that the new directions will create seems both reasonable and appropriate.

      3. Mockingjay*

        Do you and the other managers have any kind of project status meeting with the big boss? A quick roundup in which each of you brief the boss of current progress and priorities, then establish any changes. You all then can point back to the minutes/notes – “Hey, boss, we agreed the Simpson project was the number one priority this week and we assigned staff accordingly. Did something change?”

        I posted something similar in last Friday’s thread. As a group, maybe you and the other managers can address it as a process problem, not the boss’s personality. Make him part of the solution – “by helping us set priorities, we can help you.”

        I like JSPA’s idea of a simple spreadsheet. Update that during your meeting and that becomes the minutes that everyone can refer to.

    4. Sara without an H*

      Hi, OP#1 — There have been some good suggestions in this thread. Since the CEO is three levels above you, I have to ask where your own manager is on this. Make sure he/she is fully briefed on what’s happening, and ask for advice on how to allocate time and manage the CEO. (This is CYA, but you need to do it.)

      That said, this sounds like a bad case of Founder’s Syndrome, and you’ll have to find a way to work around it. By all means, make sure your staff brief you on these side projects, track everything (I like the spreadsheet idea), ask the other managers how they deal with it. But please don’t feel devalued and useless — this is just your organization’s culture.

      Since you’re new to management, you may want to put in 2-3 years, and then go look for other options. But don’t take this habit of your CEO’s as comment on you or your abilities.

  10. All Outrage, All The Time*

    #3. It’s not on you to support your daughter between jobs. I’ve worked full time and supported myself since I was 15. I’m 49 now. My parents have never given me a cent and in fact, I paid them board when I lived at home once I had an income. I’ve lived away from my parents home since I was 18. I’ve managed to pay all my bills, save for the future, and buy and sell several properties at a profit. If you have given your daughter the impression you will support her between jobs, now is the time to correct that impression. Letting her stand on her own feet financially is a massive gift to her. She should have no expectation of someone else supporting her between jobs bar a genuine emergency like an illness or accident. Over the years I’ve socked away enough in my “emergency fund” to pay my living expenses and bills for around six months if I’m out of work (that’s bare bones, so no clothing, only basic groceries, no take out or eating out, minimum hair upkeep for interview purposes, no vacations or weekend trips,). I would assume most adults do this to some extent rather than relying on their parents who presumably also working and paying their own bills, to bail them out.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        It doesn’t matter, that’s not the point. There’s a difference between helping out and fully supporting your child. And daughter knows if she screws up she won’t have a worry in the world because mom will fully support her financially. I’m in a similar boat – I’m 45, worked since I was 14, started paying rent to my parents when I got my first job after college, and have been supporting myself since I was 22.

        Yes the economy is different now, but we also live in a world where too many parents don’t allow their kids to struggle and figure stuff out on their own.

        1. Fikly*

          It is, actually, the point. If you live in an economy where you have to spend 60% (or more) of your paycheck on rent, cannot afford health insurance, etc, you cannot save money to put aside for emergencies. And then those emergencies cost more, because you have to pay interest on them, and down and down you spiral.

          You have a fundamental misunderstanding of how poverty works. If you are not being paid enough money, the money and ability to save doesn’t magically appear, no matter how much you restrict your spending.

          You’re also assuming daughter is perfectly happy relying on her mother to bail her out if needed. If she is that entitled, who do you think taught her to be?

          1. HarperC*

            I am also in my late 40s, but I agree with you Fikly. I do not see people younger than me who are happy to have to rely on their parents. With the way things are now, it’s just a necessity and honestly, it shouldn’t have to be the end of the world, except that our society is so weird about it, IMHO. And honestly … there aren’t many of us who could go unscathed through a job loss right now when jobs that pay enough to live on are not that easy to come by.

          2. neeko*

            Not to mention we still have this “You have to get an education to get a job” mindset and it’s putting people into debt that they can’t keep up with. Plus people are co-habitating (which cuts down on a lot of costs) much later in life. It’s insane that people think that something they did 20 – 30 years ago should also apply now.

        2. Quill*

          No, it’s totally the point. 30 years ago you could make enough to afford rent in just about any 40 hour a week job. These days, due to inflation, stagnant wages, and a huge shift to contract employment that can keep people from having a consistent salary, or health insurance, that’s not the case.

          1. Third or Nothing!*

            Housing and childcare eats up about 75% of my take home pay. And we live in one of the more affordable parts of the country. *cries in millenial*

            1. Quill*

              *Shudders* I’m in the permanently single, childfree camp, and I really don’t know how the heck I’m going to be able to support myself throughout my working career unless the national standards for pay and housing are reformed. A one bedroom apartment costs about a third of what I make monthly in a relatively cheap location… and I had to struggle hard to get a job that pays even this much, because in my areas the positions I’m qualified for are flooded with applicants and oversaturated with temporary positions.

              Practically everyone else I know works two jobs, whether that’s bartending or driving or selling things online, but unless I can find a way to start selling my writing, that’s not feasible for me for health reasons…

              1. Third or Nothing!*

                We are very, very lucky that I came into the marriage with no debt. Otherwise we would have been royally screwed when my husband had to take an unexpected unpaid medical sabbatical from his toxic job. This on top of debt from childbirth, his student loans, and all the lovely hospital bills that keep trickling in. Oh and don’t forget the deposit equal to one month’s rent so we could move into a place with enough room to house a crib! (It annoys me that we have 4 figures tied up in our landlord’s account earning HIM interest instead of us.)

              2. A*

                Yup! It’s brutal. I only just found relief by relocating from a very expensive metropolitan city to a more rural mountain town. Took a little over a year to find a job opportunity, but I highly recommend running away from high cost of living areas lol. I wish I had been less stubborn in my 20s. I was convinced that if I worked hard enough, advanced far enough – it would be ok. Turns out, even doubling my salary left me in the same place. Literally. Same apartment, just mildly more affordable (ya know, only 65% of salary instead of 70%)

                1. Quill*

                  Yeah, I’m (late 20’s) having a devil of a time right now choosing between affordable cost of living where I currently live, but no job opportunities that will last or get me appropriate insurance, or going someplace more urban for a job with benefits and not making much more than cost of living.

        3. Ln*

          Parents aren’t preventing children from struggling. Their adult children are unable to get jobs or at least full time work and are struggling far more for it. Your comment is impeccably ignorant and in poor taste.

    1. A very Brady November*

      “If you have given your daughter the impression you will support her between jobs, now is the time to correct that impression”

      There are lots of family dynamics out there. Your isn’t the only valid one, y’know.

    2. Mookie*

      You would assume wrong, depending on what nation you’re thinking of. A plurality of all Americans, for example, lack substantial emergency funding and could not afford an unexpected bill of several hundred dollars. These people aren’t “skimping” holidays and treats and salon visits because they could never have afforded any of those luxuries in the first place. These facts and others have been highlighted by the news for what seems like a decade.

    3. Xer*

      As a fellow 49 year old, I can say a some certainty that your experience was not universal.

      Alos, the certainly very different that when we came of age. Bootstrapping and full independence at 18 are almost impossible.

      Your statement about what you assume is flat wrong currently and historically. The post WWII to 1980s ideal of moving out and being independent from the parents ASAP and never going back was a blip. It’s not now, and has never been, the reality for most Americans. Up unti WWII, most Americans either lived on multi-generational farms or packed together in cities.

      Heck, I as just listening to NPR talk about how there are no more summer jobs for teens and how teens can’t even get hired at McD’s anymore. So it’s really hurting the young poor kids.

      Before you say that someone should of should not have certain expectations, you might want to deconstruct your assumptions and then spend some time reading or listening to podcasts that present the reality. It’s not what you seem to think.

      Boomers and Xers have a lot of unfounded expectations of younger generations bc they think the world is still the same with respect to jobs as it was in the 1980s. It’s not. It’s so much harder. And getting worse.

      Nuclear families and bootstrapping are modern concepts that have fun their course.

      1. It's a No From Me*

        SOME Boomers and Xers have a lot of unfounded expectations … (Fixed it for you.) I’m a “young” Boomer who faced a tough job market when I graduated in the 1980s because the older Boomers had snapped up all the good middle-management and professional jobs. I had to scramble for years to get a livable wage. I certainly have no unfounded expectations about any other young person’s ability to get hired.

        1. HarperC*

          I was going to say — the job market in the 80s was actually not all that great. That’s when a lot of people with doctorates ended up driving cabs — it just wasn’t the utopia of jobs that is being portrayed lately. My family struggled through the early 80s because my father got sick and my mother couldn’t find work. That was my experience. I know others had different experiences in the same time period, but it wasn’t a universal time of wonderful jobs on every corner.

          1. Quill*

            My parents graduated in the 80’s and while it wasn’t great, as a couple they were able to 1) move out and make it work in a crappy apartment in order to find jobs in their field, and 2) find jobs that would hire direct (not via contract) in entry level positions in their industries and provide benefits, meaning that once you *GOT* a job in your field you were a lot more likely to keep it than any grad this decade.

            Did it help that my dad was in programming and this was a growing industry? Yes, absolutely. But the erosion of workers’ rights in the last two decades and the combination of rising rent and stagnant wages has made for a worse economy overall for recent grads, and there hasn’t really been a boom and bust cycle this decade in terms of “people relatively easily getting long term jobs that pay them enough to live on,” just in terms of corporate profits.

          2. pleaset*

            I graduated in the 80s into a bad job market. The difference between then and now was that education and housing are massively more expensive now where I live. I got my own place with a roommate pretty easily from working at not great pay. Nowadays, it’s harder. Plus “kids these days” have higher loan payments. Plus the gig economy means fewer have health insurance. Plus health care can be so much more expensive. My parents had money, so if I hadn’t had health insurance and broke my arm, they could come if in a few thousand dollars to bail me out. Nowadays that could be tens of thousands of dollars.

            Times are way more rough nowadays. Massively so.

            1. Quill*

              I have custom orthodics. Replacing them without insurance coverage would likely take an entire month’s salary for me. If they’re discounted for reasons of “you’re insured but it doesn’t specifically cover these,” it would probably still be an entire paycheck.

              Heck, the last time I went for a routine physical, it cost as much *after insurance contributions* as my monthly car payment.

      2. Mainely Professional*

        Where is this notion that Xers had a great experience in the job market? I’m not one, but the ones I know graduated college into George H.W. Bush’s recession in the early 90s. Struggled through as well as the general struggling one does in one’s 20s. Maybe went back to school later for a professional degree, only to graduate into the dot com bubble burst.

        1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

          Younger GenX here, and if I’d graduated college on schedule, I would’ve gotten my BS right about the time the dot com bubble burst. My working assumption is that there will be cyclical boom-and-bust cycles, and some people will be luckier than others when they’re looking for their first jobs based on where their graduation date falls in that cycle. (I also assume the boom-and-bust cycles will continue to affect my employment prospects for the rest of my career.)

          1. Bananamanna*

            Would you have had $50,000+ in student loans on top of that rough economy? Because if not, you really cannot relate to the current generational struggles.

            And the dotcom boom was not at the same level as the Great Recession. Neither was the 80s recession. That isn’t an opinion, it is an economic fact.

            1. Quill*

              The Great Recession is a depression. And it’s producing the same financial and social effects on people as the Great Depression did…

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            I graduated from both my BA and my MBA during busts. I got lucky – my parents paid for the BA, the MBA debt was small, and I’m a good enough student that I got decent jobs. But I still lived with my parents the first two years out of the BA.

            I had it much easier than anyone going to college or entering the job market for the first time in the last 15 years, or anyone trying to get housing in the last 7. We are looking at *systemic* problems, where housing and school (and health care) costs are rising at *multiples* of wage increases and inflation. Not just a little more, but 2 – 5x more.

            This is happening as corporations are posting record profits – it’s not a coincidence. We need to pay workers more, especially the lowest-paid 30%. They’ve been shafted for decades.

      3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Shoot. I am Gen X and only managed to support myself before and after college by living in some seriously substandard housing packed full of roommates. It wasn’t terrible and had its fun moments, but it wasn’t easy even back in the golden age of the 1990s

      4. Arts Akimbo*

        Ha, don’t blame Xers for pie-in-the-sky-economy thinking! A huge chunk of us came out of college straight into a recession and were underemployed for the better part of a decade. If there’s anyone who should understand the job woes of today’s grads, it’s us.

      5. RUKiddingMe*

        Speaking as a very old x-er, the 89s wasn’t that great and many of us do understand that times change. Boomers however…¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    4. Crivens!*

      My husband and I make over 100,000 combined.

      We also both have massive student loan debt. We still live mostly paycheck to paycheck because of that. We do not have meaningful savings and we literally cannot right now.

      We’re not alone in this. Your bootstraps story is not widely applicable.

      1. Parenthetically*

        “Your bootstraps story is not widely applicable.”

        There are a few messages I wish could be downloaded into everyone’s brain, and this is one.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*


        I’m a bootstrapper myself and if I ever pull a “everyone can dooooooo it like meeeeeee”, put me in a canoe and push me out to sea already.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          A huge portion of my financial independence as an adult is due to the fact that my (5-year, CS, really good school) degree had a combined tuition cost of $0.00.

          I cannot begin to imagine what it’s like starting out in your career with a 5-6-digit student loan debt and no jobs available/only low-paying jobs available. I graduated college into a dissolution of the country I then lived in, a total collapse of the economy, and hyperinflation, so it’s not like I had it easy. And I still have no idea how the current generation is managing to get on their two feet. The student loan situation is ridiculous. (My sons don’t have any student debt, because I was able to pay their college bills, thanks to (see the first sentence of my comment)).

          1. Quill*

            I was so, so lucky to get scholarships. When I was applying to schools, my parents, who graduated into the 80’s recession, were constantly saying “You are the princess in a fairy tale and we’re selling you off to the highest bidder in terms of colleges.”

            I still only paid my loans off by living with my parents for the first three years out of college and having a hand-me-down car. And then I spent the last two years only employed for 6-8 months of each calendar year. I still can’t afford to live on my own in my area with any meaningful margin of safety. :/

          2. The Man, Becky Lynch*


            I too have zero student loans. And that’s also why I was able to assist my parents through the recession when my dad’s job was a victim of the economy coupled with a dying/hugely scaled back industry.

            If I hadn’t helped my parents, they would have been okay but pretty dinged up to say the least. Early retirement is it’s whole other beast that’s out there waiting for us, as we want to preach about safety nets. My parents had one and it would have been decimated and their decent retirement was dangling by a thread. Because the economy crumbled on the backs of a man who worked 30 hard years and got cut loose 3 years before he had the ability to get his full social security check. So yeah…bootstraps y’all.

        2. A*

          Same. I always explain it as yes, bootstrapping made me ‘build character’ and whatever other buzz words people like to assign to the concept, but mostly it just made me bitter and frustrated. I wouldn’t wish these circumstances on anyone. While there is something to be said for going too far in the other direction (as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to no longer be jealous of my friends still living at home – what I once had perceived as a profound privilege has now become a motivation-sink in their lives), I think most individuals will agree the happy place lies somewhere in the middle.

      3. RUKiddingMe*

        So true.

        We make about twice that. We had savings. One broken leg and the inability to work later…

        I think we’re back to about 3K saved. That wouldn’t cover a month.

        “Bootstraps” is a privileged scam.

    5. Quickbeam*

      For me, the emphasis here is that OP has some fear (financial, emotional) of having to bear the full weight of her adult daughter’s needs should the job fail. I hope she’s told her that and established some expectations. Then let her fly with the job. No one is owed lifetime support into adulthood from their parents. No one.

      And before I get “ok boomer’d”, graduated college in 78, horrible recession, gas lines. Worked 2 full time nursing assistant jobs for 2.95$ an hour, slept in my car. Ate at a soup kitchen. It wasn’t Disneyland.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        The thing with this war of generations is that Boomers forget that the younger generations didn’t just go through economic issues, every single generation has been hit by the swinging pendulum of economics.

        One grandfather is the Lost Generation. So he survived the dust bowl, faced two wars and the Great Depression and saw some of the gas rationing of the 70s before passing.

        One grandfather was from the Silent Generation. He went to war and came back to join the timber industry. Which dried up in places and he had to follow jobs.

        My parents are boomers. My dad was smack in the middle of the Spotted Owl and crack down on the timber industry. He was drafted to Vietnam, spat on upon returning all that fun stuff. The 80’s recession was waiting for him not too long afterwards of course.

        But the thing is, throughout history, each generation still had better in some way. They still “did better” than their parents. Despite seeing the same struggles in some shape or form with economy and war and uncertainty.

        Then you get the generation we have now with hundreds of thousands of dollars of student debt. That they graduated into the Great Recession and having to pay off their debts by stringing part time jobs together. Millennials are the first to do worse than their parents after they graduated. This is why people say Boomers are out of touch. Not because you didn’t struggle or have to fight to survive.

    6. Temperance*

      My parents tried to force me to pay board when I was in high school. I refused, since I was forced to live under their roof until age 18.

      You should have done the same.

    1. Yvette*

      The thing is, sending answers is probably easier, as it allows for composing answers when it is convenient, either while multi-tasking or piecemeal and then sending the response when it fits in with their schedule rather than having to set aside a specific block of time.
      As far as a strategy going forward, be a little selfish and self serving. If this is a request from someone who is a friend of a friend or possibly in a position to be helpful to you at some point in the future, provide your usual well thought out response in a timely fashion and chalk up any lack of thanks as “cost of doing business”. If it is truly from out of nowhere or someone who has not been appreciative in the past, as Alison suggested respond at your leisure, if you choose to respond at all, and don’t feel the need to be very in-depth.

      1. Lucky black cat*

        You misunderstand me.

        I suggested asking them to call instead because nobody will take OP up on this.

        1. Yvette*

          True, but I still stand by the portion of my advice about being self serving as it relates to the type of response.

          1. China Beech*

            The OP doesn’t OWE anyone any favors. OP has been responding out of courtesy. If OP isn’t getting anything out of it, especially NO thank yous, then OP should stop responding at all or use the “please call me” option to do it for OP.

        2. LW5*

          LW5 here – hah, not a bad idea, although if someone actually DID take me up on this, that would be way worse

  11. Observer*

    #3- You’ve already gotten some good advice. I’ll also point out something else. You actually have no idea of how much time your daughter is really taking off. Even though she was visiting her grandmother for 3 days, she didn’t take 3 days off, since she was working. How much she worked is hard to know, but it’s just as much work as if she were not doing if from Grandma’s house. Same for the family trip.

    1. CJ Record*

      This is exactly what I was thinking – if she’s bringing her laptop and doing remote work, (legally) she’s getting paid for that time, which means that’s not vacation or PTO. (Ask me how much class prep and grading and even online teaching I’ve done while on “vacation” at the Cape.) If you’ve been out of the current business cycle – _especially_ with startups – for a while, the culture of work locations has radically changed.

    2. Rich*

      100% agreed. I work in technology sales, with a home office, and from the outside it’s very difficult to tell how much I’m working. I know, my manager knows, and my degree of quota attainment knows, but to an outside observer, I have a few days a week where I’m sitting looking at the computer, or waiting for someone else to follow up, or thinking through how I’m going to approach a deal, or leaving all-the-voicemails in the morning hoping someone calls back, and then waiting for them to do so. Or maybe I’m out of the house running to meetings all day. It moves around a lot.

      I sometimes feel a little guilty because my wife has a conventional in-office job where she needs to be on time and stay through the day. On days she comes home for lunch, I’m often here pecking away on my computer in my slippers. And I’m working in exactly the way I should, but it sure doesn’t look like it

  12. nnn*

    #3: You mention that your work experience was in a hospital laboratory.

    In a hospital laboratory, all the work needs to be done in the laboratory, so you’re only at work when you’re physically at work. But much of the work at a start-up can be done wherever you have an internet connection. So those times your daughter brought her laptop and did some remote work? She was at work.

    Hospitals operate 24/7/365, so your laboratory probably did the same. But sales would have slow times, when the clients are focused on other things and simply aren’t buying software right that minute. The weeks of major holidays may well be those kinds of times, especially if the start-up’s clients are businesses. Many of the clients are on vacation, or the people needed to approve new software purchases are on vacation, or the whole office is caught up in secret santa, and basically software sales aren’t being finalized that week.

    Also, in the hospital environments with which I’m familiar, people with seniority often get the pick of time off, leaving newbies working major holidays. But offices often don’t need equal or greater coverage for major holidays – they can do just fine if everyone takes time off, or one person sticks around on call.

    So basically she worked remotely twice in a period of 6 months at a job that can easily be done remotely, and has scheduled two separate weeks of future vacation at times her employer says they can spare her for vacation.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Very much so. Daughter isn’t doing shift work. She can, and apparently has work(ed) remotely. So even when she’s not in the office she’s at work.

  13. Observer*

    #2 – I don’t believe that anyone actually thinks that accepting the vandalism is a good way to get dissenting opinions. On the contrary. You should ask the people who say that that’s what they think to explain EXACTLY how this will lead to useful information and reasonable and usable dissenting opinions and why you can’t get that same information in less problematic ways.

    Also, know that everyone in the company is watching this. If you don’t address this, people – and NOT just women! will conclude that all of the talk about equity and diversity are nothing more than an exercise in checking boxes. Especially the first one which you simply cannot explain in ANY way other than dismissive of the existence of a pay gap.

    I’ll try to post a link in my reply, but you may want to Google Founders Brewery. Their head of diversity just quit. She basically said that she had bought into the vision that the company officially espoused, but she had come to the conclusion that it was a sham.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      Exactly. And the gender pay gap, for example, is a fact. Anyone with a “dissenting opinion” is wrong.

      Ergo, “dissenting opinion” is nothing other than an attempt to hide their bigotry.

      1. Lebdetter*

        While I agree with you on this particular issue, faces and methodologies can often be in dispute.

      2. Dagny*

        The existence of the gap is real; the size of the gap varies WILDLY depending on the methodology used. (If you simply divide the income of full-time women by the income of full-time men, you get approximately 0.72. If you compare the salaries women earn in a specific job with the salary men earn in a specific job, the numbers are all over the place, depending on industry.)

        The real issue, IMHO, is that what we are often told are “choices” by women are not, in fact, choices. As I point out ad nauseum, if you can’t get a high-pressure job because of discrimination in hiring, your “choice” to take a lower-paying, more family-friendly job is not a choice made in a vacuum. If you hit a glass ceiling and you and your husband have to choose whose career gets priortised, it isn’t a “choice” to priortise his; it’s the only financially sensible one. If you are harassed every single day at work, subjected to lewd remarks, have your ideas diminished, and receive lower bonuses than your male colleagues, you may well make the “choice” to leave the workforce, but that “choice” is heavily influenced by the fact that the advantages that accrue to your male colleagues are not accruing to you.

    2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      This. Lots of people care about diversity and equality – women, immigrants, people of immigrant descent, LGBT+ people, etc. The acts of vandalism signal a particular group of employees are not worth of respect, and if not address properly will damage the company’s reputation.

    3. WellRed*

      If the other people on this so-called committee thinks this is “dissenting opinions,” they should probably not be on the committee. They sound ineffective at effecting change.

    4. Gazebo Slayer*

      YES. The “dissenting opinion” crap is typical disingenuous freezpeach concern tr0lling, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the people making that argument turn out to be the vandals themselves.

  14. Uldi*

    LW #2, Allison is dead on with this. It’s something that needs to be addressed, and ‘don’t feed the trolls’ does not apply here.

    Allison: You have the word equity in that letter’s title instead of equality.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think Alison is referring to social equity (as opposed to equity in the financial sense).

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      That is a correct use of the word equity. It can mean shares in a company, but it can also mean “the quality of being fair and impartial.”

  15. Diamond*

    #3 – She’s basically worked a couple of days remotely (which… is work!) and asked for a week off in the future. That isn’t excessive. Presumably she accrued her PTO days and her manager approved it and all is in order. You need to let her handle it. I also note that she had a hard time finding a job after graduation, as many do, but now has a job. I.e. it isn’t the case that she’s been job-hopping and getting fired left right and centre. There’s no reason from your letter to think that she is being unprofessional or doesn’t know how her office works.

  16. Aphrodite*

    OP #3, you said that she “started in April. In June, we had a long-planned family reunion. She brought her laptop and did some remote work. Last month she took three days to go see her 99-year-old grandmother (again she did some remote work). She has asked for and been given the week of Thanksgiving and Christmas off.”

    Leaving aside that you should not be hovering over your adult daughter, who actually sounds as if she is doing great, that amount of time off in her first six months isn’t really outrageous. Sure, it’s not ideal but I suspect she probably told her employer about the planned family reunion in her interview and was granted it ahead of time. If so, she showed responsibility and awareness when she brought her laptop to the reunion and worked remotely.

    Then she also did remote work when going to see her grandmother; is her grandmother in ill health? That’s a genuine reason to take time off and she didn’t take much.

    Finally, some private companies close in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Maybe she didn’t need the whole week off and didn’t take it since the company may itself be closed for part of that time. Or maybe she was able to get it off because most of her customers are closed during that time and work slows down to a dribble.

    Things have changed a lot in “decades,” and the difference between the medical field you were in and a software start-up firm are very different. Healthcare is one of those careers that demands a lot you may not find in other fields. I would encourage you to trust her choices.

    1. Grand Mouse*

      Yes! Esp with the grandmother. It’s scary to think about, but at 99 every moment with her would be precious. I am also getting the feeling you don’t think working remotely is real work?

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        “ I am also getting the feeling you don’t think working remotely is real work?”

        This seems to be a not uncommon thing especially amongst people of a certain age.*

        *I am of a certain age. I get that feeling. I ignore it because I know things are different, plus I work from the couch a lot. But lots of people my age and older and those who worked mostly shift work type work just cant grasp “remote=real work.”

        1. Xer*

          It’s human to assume your experience is the default or universal. It takes effort to realize that others live in a different reality that you don’t understand.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          I work as an IT Project Manager and my friends give me crap all the time because I work from home frequently. But they’re all in nursing. You can’t take care of patients from home, but all I need is Wifi and I’m good to go. In fact, the people I work with are scattered all over the US, so working from home isn’t all that different from working in the office. At my last job, our new manager insisted on us filling out reports while working from home saying what we had done all day. What I wanted to tell her was that I got more work done from home, because I didn’t have her yapping in my ear about non work stuff all day and a bunch of people stopping by my desk every 5 minutes. Working from home does not equate to loafing around on the couch eating bon bons.

          1. Semprini!*

            Yup. I work remotely, and I constantly get asked by older relatives and by people working in drastically different kinds of jobs “But how does your boss know you’re working????”

            And the answer is “By the steady output of work that I’m delivering to clients and/or to the next person in the workflow.”

          2. A*

            This! I have a handful of friends, who despite my best efforts to explain, are incapable of understanding the expectations surrounding working from home. Anytime they run into me at the grocery store during the day etc. they’ll give me a hard time because I’m not “actually working”. Uh, yes I am. I’m just not in a shift position, or one that requires me to be in a set place at a set time aside from my conference calls. It’s no different to my boss if I run out to the store between calls versus at lunch. Especially since ‘lunchtime’ is pretty much non-existent in my line of work due to how many time zones we juggle across project teams. I always have to remind them that at the end of the day, if I wasn’t ‘actually working’… I wouldn’t have a job. I’m pretty sure the company would notice when a major function just….stops.

      2. Shad*

        As another commenter says, remote work is also something that’s vastly different by industry—lab work generally can’t be done away from a lab (though some of the write up and data analysis may be doable), while sales has always involved time away from the office and that’s only become easier with advances in technology.

      3. Nanani*

        A lot of people do not understand that working remotely, especially when its paired with a flexible schedule (like, working on files as opposed to live audio/video meetings) is real work.
        Not every job is the same and the shift away from butt-in-seat being the only work that counts is a healthy one.

    2. Sharkie*

      Exactly. I have the week of Thanksgiving off (We are only open Monday and Tuesday so I am only using 2 days) and the week of NYE off ( HALF day on the 31st closed on the 1st so I am only using 3 days) so I am only using 5 days of pto for 2 full weeks. PTO is weird like that. If the boss thought it was an issue they would never approve it.

      OP, I say this in the most caring way- please turn down this mom energy. I know you mean well but it sounds like your daughter is killing it job-wise.

  17. Ele4phant*

    Lw3 – work these days doesn’t necessarily have to be done in the office. It’s entirely possible to work remotely while say, visiting family. Work also isn’t 9-to-5, she may work a couple hours, log off to do something else, then have to log back on later. It’s common to trade availability for flexibility. I wouldn’t worry necessarily that your daughter isn’t working enough just because she’s not physically putting in 40 hours of face time.

    I also wouldn’t worry about her work, generally. Even if she’s truly not working enough, she’s now got her education. She can, she should be, self supporting. You should not be her backup if she loses her job. I know she doesn’t have a professional degree that gives her obvious credentials for a specific career, but you know what? Neither do I. Neither do a lot of people, we all manage to self support ourselves without relying on our parents.

    She found one job, if she needed to, she could find another.

    If she were to lose her job, for whatever reason, your duty to support her is over. Let her, expect her, to be an adult and to manage her own career and finances.

  18. HBJ*

    If you don’t want to support her if she loses her job, … then don’t support her if she loses her job. She is an adult. Growing up, my siblings and I were well aware that as long as we were in school, we could live at home rent free, but as soon as we were out of school, we had to start paying rent even if we were living at home, so we better get a job. It’s never been an issue.

    You do not have to support her. You are choosing to support her.

  19. WS*

    LW #2 – psoriasis runs in my family. It also tends to flare up under stress such as job-hunting, so all of us have, at one time or another, interviewed during a major and obvious flare-up. A simple explanation that it’s a skin condition that’s having a temporary flare-up (well, that’s very simplified, but it’s enough for an interviewer!) has been enough to make it a non-issue. And it actually helped my lawyer brother get a job in the legal department of 1. a pharmaceutical company and 2. a skincare company, but I wouldn’t necessarily count on that kind of synergy!

  20. Isabelle*

    OP #2, you need to push back HARD on this “dissenting opinions” nonsense. This is about clearly stating what the company’s culture and values are, it is not a negotiation with employees about what they would like the culture to be.

    1. Ico*

      Culture changes are something that really do need to be grassroots to some extent. Management won’t get a lot of traction telling people what their culture is or isn’t and that their feelings are beside the point, that just leads to resentment. If the rank and file don’t buy in, no management edict is going to change things.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Management has more power than that to control their culture — for example, ensuring those values are reflected in their hiring and making the values something they assess people on in performance evaluations, give direct feedback on, etc. It takes work, but they have a ton of power if they want it.

        1. Lora*

          THIS. I have never, ever, in any job, in 30 years of gainful employment, seen a culture change that wasn’t an edict from either the top or an actual union. I’m guessing that OP’s employer isn’t unionized (hardly anyone in the US is nowadays), so.

          Employee’s power to change a culture, all by themselves, when a company is infested with bigots: Tell the bigots to please knock it off. In my experience, the bigots keep doing bigot things and the person telling them to knock it off is told to grow a thicker skin and quit whining.

          Management’s power to change a culture: Fire bigots, publicly and loudly, and say “we don’t pay bigots to spread their crap here.” Increasing levels of discipline for bigoted behaviors. Implementation of training programs. Careful hiring practices to screen out both discrimination on the part of the hiring managers and screening out applicants who don’t support the company values on this point. Pay reviews to ensure equity in pay; promotion reviews to ensure equity in promotion opportunities and monitoring for any patterns or trends that indicate prejudice in overall practices. Care in selecting metrics for employee reviews that ensure equity in performance evaluations. Having and enforcing a No A-hole Rule. Actually paying attention to exit interviews and reacting appropriately to them (most of the “oh my sweet lord how did you tolerate that hellhole” type bigotry in organizations have dozens of exit interviews from women and POC all citing the discrimination as Why We Are Leaving). AKA, “managing.”

      2. MayLou*

        Except for the management edict that fires people for hostile acts of sexist vandalism, which would rapidly change the culture by eliminating the people who think that such acts are acceptable.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        That’s a valid point, but it’s not clear that lack of rank-and-file buy-in is the problem, here. There’s also something to be said about leading by example—it’s very true that management often set the tone for office culture.

    2. Johnny Tarr*

      Right? Does this dissenter disagree with reality, or economic justice? Or both? Why would that opinion be valuable?

  21. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

    OP1 – I’m just curious, since the CEO does this to other departments – is he assigning work that is relevant to all the other departments, or is he going “this needs doing, Jane’s team has someone who can do it for me”? Is it possible that your team are also inadvertantly supporting this by dropping everything to deal with the CEO’s tasks when they could be as simple as “find out whether local restauarant is open next Saturday” (or other trivial, non-urgent requests).

    If he is assigning work directly (three to four levels below him) it sounds like he is making business decisions and not letting the rest of the managing staff know (even your boss and grandboss?). This has got to be worth a group pushback, surely?
    Could you talk with other managers, including your boss, and see if everyone feels the same way? The CEO could be one of those people who worked their way up and has trouble letting go of the control they had to get there – he probably needs (gently) reminding that companies work best with proper and appropriate communication and job autonomy.

    1. Bob3*

      OP here.

      Yes, it is work at least tangentially related to each department, and yes, the other managers feel the same way.

      Unfortunately, I have tried discussing it with him myself to no effect, and the other managers are unwilling to make waves.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        Are these other managers at your level or above you?
        Would the ones who are more directly below him in the hierarchy have more sway?

        Beyond that, it sounds like Alison’s suggestions of getting your team to loop you in so you can reprioritise their work (not immediately dropping everything because BIG BOSS says so) might be your only recourse.
        Sorry Bob – without support from your peers, you might be a little stuck for real change :(

        1. Bob3*

          There are two levels above me before CEO. They have the same frustration, but they have also been here much longer and seem to have given up. I know that doesn’t bode well for my chances, but I have to try something.

  22. Myrin*

    #2, I find it somewhat alarming that members of the equality team think that vandalism is “a valuable way to get dissenting opinions”. Now sure enough, it IS a way to get dissenting opinions, but it’s far from valuable (at least not in the sense it’s meant here – I do indeed find it valuable to know that someone I work with at best has their head stuck so deep in the sand that they think proven facts like the gender wage gap aren’t real. At best.), and the fact that this downright outlandish line of thought got voiced at all would make me want to take a closer look at your teammembers too and think about some deeper education all around, honestly.

    Alison’s answer is fantastic and even more spot-on than usual and I really want to highlight her last sentence, because it’s both very insightful and entirely actionable: “In other words, this is a distress signal from your culture — take it a sign of work you need to do”.

    1. Joielle*

      Yep – and for some of these topics, “dissenting opinions” are not at all valuable! Dissenting opinions are for things like coffee vs. tea, pineapple on pizza, or which way the toilet paper hangs. Not for “is diversity important.”

      The company’s message here needs to be “Vandalism and bigotry will not be tolerated in this organization.”

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I just saw a tweet somewhere (which I now can’t re-find, dang it) that points out that bringing in “diverse” people to a toxic environment doesn’t cure it … it simply puts the “diverse” person into a dangerous situation.

      I’m still getting my head around how to put this into my own practice and understanding. If someone’s “dissenting opinions” are unkind to another human, the hostility should be addressed as such, regardless of whether a person can have different opinions.

  23. Boo*

    #2 – just chiming in to agree with you that yes you absolutely need to publicly push back on the poster vandalism. Re what else you can do (and apologies if you are already!) how about running regular mandatory e&d workshops? Make sure there are plenty of group activities so people aren’t just sitting there waiting for it to finish. Get senior leadership to front this (chief exec if possible) by sending your important emails/ meeting invitations from their email account, maybe doing opening/closing statement at the workshop. Embed your e&d from hiring on. Hope some of this is helpful. Good luck!

  24. Cherry*

    OP #2 – the poster thing is interesting. I work at a University where there is often commentary around posters, people ripping others down etc etc. Generally we remove anything that is vandalized, placed in the wrong place or hate speech. It is not addressed due to the volume and that it baits more vandalism, quiet removal works best for toning down a conversation that has the potential to spiral into large scale student protests.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      I think the key difference, though, is that the university posters kind of fall under free exchange of ideas, while a company’s diversity posters are part of creating the culture the company wants. The company is paying people who they want to fit in to a chosen culture, which is a very different dynamic than a university campus.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Hunh, I took ‘research institute’ to mean either a govt or educational facility rather than a company.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          Even still, an employee-employer relation is different than an institution-student relationship. I think you can definitely argue that under the former, the company can and should be a lot more firm about the culture they want.

  25. Myrin*

    #1, this sounds absolutely aggravating, I’m so sorry!

    In addition to Alison’s excellent advice, I’d like to ask a question purely out of curiosity: What kind of work is it that the CEO assigns to your team? As in, are these actually important things? Things which you yourself would assign to them, too, if you knew about them beforehand? Would you, as the person “on the ground”, actually assign that kind of work to your team at all or does it seem more like he’s throwing items at all the teams somewhat willy-nilly? I can’t exactly put my finger on why – nothing in your letter says that – but I can’t shake the feeling that the work he’s assigning are actually pretty small and unimportant things – am I correct with that idea at all?

    And also, do you have an idea if your grandboss – the one directly below the CEO – has any way at all to interfere here?

    1. Bob3*

      OP here.

      Frequently they are unimportant items. Also frequently, they are lower-priority items already on our to-do list that he gets antsy about for whatever reason. As a result, I don’t really set my own team’s priorities; they get reshuffled almost weekly.

      Other leadership, including my “chain of command,” feels the same way as me but is unwilling to make waves.

      1. Myrin*

        Ah yes, I thought as much. From this and all your other comments, the situation really sounds extremely frustrating – you sound like you’re at your wits’ end a litte and I 100% can’t blame you.

        Without knowing what your team does and how work tasks get divided up, would it be at all possible to have one desginated CEO person? As in, someone who works primarily and on all of the CEO’s tasks so that everyone else gets to be free, and that person themselves gets to take on a lower volume of your regular stuff? That obviously doesn’t work if everyone of you does highly specialised, different work, but if you all do basically the same thing, it might be something to consider?

        I resent that I suggest something like this because obviously the best solution would be for this boor to see the light but it doesn’t really sound like that’s realistic, sadly.

          1. tangerineRose*

            In the past, when I’ve had a boss ask me to make something my top priority, if I was already working on an important priority issue, I’d let the boss know and let her make the decision on which project I should do. Is there a way to push back on the less important tasks by explaining to the CEO what is going to be delayed?

  26. Rosie*

    OP #2, my husband works in a generally conservative blue collar industry and his workplace put up LGBT+ supportive posters. He heard some grumbling about it being “shoved down our throats” etc. and part of the problem was a lack of awareness – if the company communicated why they were showing support some more people might have got on board, or been more willing to hear it out. Perhaps think about how you communicate why this is important to your staff? You might even be in a position to change some people’s minds – we can hope!

    1. Anon55*

      If anyone needs their employer to get them “on board” with a poster about supporting and respecting other people’s rights/basic dignity…the problem is not with the employer, clearly. I can’t imagine having to sit a group of adults down, again, over a poster and explain WHY so that they wouldn’t feel it was “shoved down their throats (!!!)”. The blue collar industry has nothing to do with it – these are just very ignorant people.

      1. Grand Mouse*

        I am blue collar and in the LGBT community. I am, however, young, so I know it wouldn’t be as accepted as in the past. We’ve always been here though. And I’m not uneducated- I couldn’t complete my degree due to disabilities.

        (I’m not mad or directing ire at anyone- it’s just a fyi for people who think this is normal and ok in blue collar industries)

        1. Anon55*

          Exactly! This whole idea that blue collar industries are accepting of discrimination is so wrong and so insulting. I’m a woman and worked in real estate development for years. I never, ever once dealt with any sort of harassment on construction sites. In the office, however? It was non-stop.

          You don’t have to justify your choices or eduction to anyone. Without you and your colleagues, this country would literally grind to a halt. Best wishes to you :)

        1. Johnny Tarr*

          It’s not anyone else’s responsibility to convince people of their basic dignity and humanity. If it were possible to find the right combination of words to make people care about others, it would have happened by now. The reality is that people with privilege + ignorance/hatred enjoy that privilege and don’t intend to give it up.

          1. yala*

            I mean, that sort of seems to be why it should fall to the company to try and address it as effectively as possible, to help smooth things over for LGBTQ or minority employees, so that said employees DON’T have to pick up that much emotional labor.

          2. Anon55*

            This! As a Jewish woman, I wasn’t put on this earth to justify my existence to bigots and I sure as heck am not required to convince them that racism is bad. It’s really not that hard – either someone is a decent human being who can treat all of their coworkers with respect or they’re not.

            1. tangerineRose*

              “either someone is a decent human being who can treat all of their coworkers with respect or they’re not.” This!

          1. Anon55*

            Thank you! Bigotry isn’t some kind malady that’s visited upon people without their consent and it’s up to decent people to save them. It’s a choice.

        2. Gaia*

          So we should handhold someone through their bigotry? If someone is open to understanding, I am happy to talk to them about the LGBTQ community, feminism, racial and ethnic equality, socioeconomic classism, etc, etc, etc. When someone starts off with saying a poster is shoving the idea down their throats, they aren’t interested in learning and I am not going to betray marginalized communities by making bigots feel more comfortable about their bigotry.

        3. Fuzzyfuzz*

          It is the responsibility of a workplace DEI initiative to help them. That is the point of having programs like that. This “it’s not my job to educate you” attitude is counterproductive. It is someone’s job, and it seems like if it is a cause you believe in, you have a self interest in taking that responsibility.

          1. Quill*

            Exactly. The DEI and other initiatives that appoint someone to do the job of educating people exist so that minority workers don’t have to double up on educating their peers and get derailed from their actual jobs and/or, worst case scenario, put at risk.

          2. Joielle*

            No, the responsibility of a workplace DEI initiative is to state what the company’s values are. If someone isn’t on board with those values, they should either keep very quiet about it, or find a different job somewhere that aligns with their values.

          3. Blueberry*

            ” it seems like if it is a cause you believe in, you have a self interest in taking that responsibility.”

            It is really exhausting to have to be an ambassador for one’s group all the time, to always be under the expectation of being patient and understanding and never ever angry. I absolutely agree that the workplace DEI initiative should educate people and that those with that specific job should do it for the duration of their work. I don’t agree that those of us who “believe in this cause” because we believe in our own humanity are required to be permanently-on-duty, endlessly-forgiving educators at all times.

            1. A*

              Equal treatment for all people, however, is. I don’t think dissuading activism due to terminology is the solution.

          4. RUKiddingMe*

            Sure and we can explain feminism to every single male who (disingenuously) demands we do…again also.

            It is not up to marginalized people to educate bigots. Even bigots can use Google.

            1. Fuzzyfuzz*

              Do you trust the stuff that “bigots” will turn up on Google to provide good explanations and information? If so, you have a lot more faith in people than I do.

          5. Johnny Tarr*

            I’m a relatively old feminist. There were times in college when I was learning about family abuse and the discussion centered around the barriers to leaving a violent relationship. There were always, always men in the class who would say, “But if she leaves, how does that help him get better? They’re married; they’re supposed to support each other.” I learned it then and now I am *occasionally* willing to say it *once*: if you’re treating me as though I am a lesser human than you, you are dead to me. Your pathetic inadequacies are your problem. If you can’t, in the age of the internet, educate *yourself*, then you are for whatever reason uneducable and choosing to remain that way. I’m not going to drown myself emotionally by repeatedly swimming out to save you.

            I seriously doubt that you have ever tried to kindly, gently convince someone that you are a human being just like them. It is absolutely too much to ask.

            1. tangerineRose*

              “How does that help him get better?” I don’t understand these guys. What is she supposed to do with a violent partner other than leave?

      2. Joielle*

        Agreed. This is not the kind of thing about which “dissenting opinions” are welcome, and those who hold “dissenting opinions” can either keep absolutely quiet about them or find a different place to work. This is 2019, not 1950.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      We get a lot of “what did we do/ what happened?!” When we don’t explain that it’s awareness geared first before bringing in training or slapping up posters for anything. Including just safety trainings!

      Lots of people are conditioned to assume this means they goofed and someone’s being passive aggressive with them.

      So I agree that giving more details up front of what the goal is helps a lot. Then I get nods instead of confused scowls.

    3. Gaia*

      A poster is about the most benign and casual way to support DEI efforts. If someone feels that is “shoved down [their] throats” I am 100% sure no effort would be appreciated.

  27. Hanna*

    #3 In what way are you concerned about “supporting” her? Would you be paying all of her bills? She seems to have a strong work ethic and I would assume that would lead to her being savy enough to make a bank nest now she has the means. Have you talked about whether she has plans to move out once that is big enough?
    I am unemployed right now and living with my parents. They support me in the way that I don’t have to pay for living here (rent, water, heat, food (kinda, I pay every time I shop groceries so that’s probably around half/third)) but I do all the cleaning, washing, half of the cooking, helping my mother. But she is disabled and can’t do any of that. They are very grateful for what I do and feel bad about using me. I feel bad about staying here but am grateful for their help. We talk about our situation, don’t keep it bottled up. The plan is clear: as soon as I get a job I move out. And that will be for my sake, not theirs. They will miss having me here.
    So there are other ways of adult children paying rent and different levels of parents supporting their unemployed children.

    1. Hanna*

      I think what I am trying to say is that communication is key. Tell her calmly about your concerns and ask her about her plans for the future.

    2. Harper the Other One*

      Yes, this is a great way of putting it. There are many parent/adult child arrangement LW that can work, but they all require communication.

      1. Joielle*

        Yes! If OP’s daughter is thinking “I’ll just move home if I lose this job, mom will be thrilled to have me back” and OP is thinking “please, don’t move home, I can’t handle it” – neither of them is objectively wrong, they just have to get on the same page.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Communication is critical and trust is the next one.

        My parents trusted me to work hard and if I wasn’t working, that I was doing everything imaginable to get a new job. They didn’t pester me, they didn’t meddle. They didn’t need to, they trust me.

        They’re my parents and I’m their kid, regardless of how old I get. But they have trusted my decisions since I was quit young. Why? Because they raised me…so they knew I knew the importance of work, the importance of being reliable and independent.

        I didn’t have an allowance as a kid. I cashed in our soda cans and budgeted my lunch money to pay for just about anything I wanted. I had realistic expectations and understanding of money and how you ethically obtain that money. I knew what I could ask for [a few bucks for a movie, gas or a school dance. Maybe a cheap concert ticket if I was extra lucky but I’d need to budget for transportation] and what was out of the question.

  28. GM*

    OP5, you have my sympathies. I was going to say ‘How could people do that?’ when I realized several blog readers have written to me with questions and some of them didn’t bother to respond when I replied. So it’s more common than we think.
    Not sure of a good solution, but maybe prepare a standard auto-reply saying I’ll get to your query if I have time etc, so that you don’t have to answer every email that comes your way.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Alison’s very nice here : “…if any of those people ever want something from you again, it’s very unlikely you’ll go out of your way to respond.”
      I must admit I’d be tempted to go out of my way to respond by turning them down and telling them why.

      (I’m not as good about thankyous at home as Mom taught me to be — but for favors I ask at work!? Always.)

    2. Someone*

      This happened to me and I stopped answering any questions or requests from people I don’t know. I’m not going to waste my time helping people when 99.99% of them never even bother to thank me.

  29. Anonariffic*

    #3 sounds very much like the flip side of the letter last week where OP’s mom came to work at her company and was overly worried about any time OP set her messenger app status to indicate she was unavailable- she doesn’t seem to appreciate how much of the daughter’s job differs from her own experiences and can be done without being there in the office.

    The long-planned reunion could easily have been brought up and arranged during the hiring process, and the holidays may be a slow time that everyone takes off. Three more days isn’t very much at all and we’ve also seen letters about how important it can be to take the time to prioritize family before they’re gone.

    1. Erika22*

      They’re two different things (the post makes them seem interchangeable). Equality is treating everyone the same and is about promoting fairness (though it doesn’t necessarily work out this way) while equity is ensuring everyone gets what they need to be successful. The most common illustration is the three figures on step-stools trying to see over a fence – if you just google “equality vs equity” this image as well as a lot of other resources come up.

    2. Gaia*

      The going word used to be equality, however there is a movement towards equity over equality in some groups (other groups still focus on equality). Equality means everyone is the same regardless of circumstance. Equity means everyone’s individual needs are met to achieve the same results.

      There’s actually a cartoon drawing that shows the difference pretty well. Google “equality vs equity cartoon” to see it.

  30. Office Grunt*


    One thing to consider: Is the CEO the type of person to punish your team members for telling you about his requests and/or punish you for knowing about them? I’ve been there and it was all ugly all the time.

    1. Bob3*

      OP here.

      Not really. It’s almost like I’m not considered at all; whether I know or not is irrelevant.

      This happens to every department, and I receive nothing but positive feedback from my direct boss, so as far as I know it’s not a question of me being pushed out prior to termination.

  31. Anonforthisone*

    OP 3, I have some thoughts about your concerns with supporting your daughter if she loses this job and needs to find another. I was lucky that my parents let me move in with them for a year to recover from a bad job/boyfriend/move-to-a-big-city situation in my early 20s. It was what let me save up enough to buy a house, become truly financially independent, and send myself to grad school by age 30. It takes longer now to achieve independence because the cost of living has increased while wages have been stagnant for 30+ years. If I’d been renting my own place for that year instead of living with my parents, I’d probably still be struggling. But here’s the thing – I worked the whole time, and sometimes held two jobs. My parents kept a safety net under me in terms of providing a place to stay, but I covered my own expenses otherwise and saved like mad. So if your daughter finds herself between jobs, maybe you can find a way to support her without putting yourself under such financial strain. And it’s totally reasonable to expect her to do some kind of work – retail, food service, etc. – while she’s looking for a job that fits her career path.

    1. It's a Yes From Me*

      Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s nice to read a positive story about this type of situation. Congratulations on turning things around.

  32. Lady Jay*

    #3, you said this: My daughter has a BA and MA in Philosophy. Not surprisingly, she had a very hard time finding a job after graduate school.

    I want to push back gently on the “not surprisingly” part of that. With the exception of a few, very specific majors (engineering, accounting, education, and the like), there’s no major that leads directly, assuredly into a good job, right after college; the humanities are no better or worse than other jobs like “business” or “animal science” and are often valued for the way they teach critical thinking, empathy, and clear communication. Long-term, humanities majors do financially as well as or better than many jobs (again, with exceptions like “engineering”).

    Sometimes people have trouble finding jobs. It’s not the fault of the degree. Nor is the degree likely to prevent other, long-term success–say, getting a second job when your daughter is ready to move on from this one. If you want to support your daughter, rather than focusing on the degrees, you can take some of the excellent suggestions in this thread: making sure she has access to financial planning materials, for instance.

    1. MCL*

      Yeah, I picked up on that too. It sounds like there has been a lot of anxious feeling on the part of the parent about daughter’s education choices, and now that’s transferring over to Feelings about her job. Daughter has certainly picked up on this, and it’s likely not doing their relationship any favors.

    2. blackcat*

      Even in STEM, there’s wide variation. Someone whose focus is pure mathematics has a lot more in common with a philosopher than a computer scientist.

      I have a STEM degree, which, while not comp sci, was from a department that believed strongly that all it’s graduates needed to know how to code in at least two languages. It was a PITA (I do not like coding), but I completely understand why they made those of us whose work wasn’t computational learn to code anyways. Everyone I graduated with was employed right away.

      1. Quill*

        Yeah, I did STEM, and the applicability of your specific major is completely dependent on industry and location. Almost every job I’ve had hasn’t cared whether I was in chem or bio (I wasn’t, I was in environmental science,) just that I had “lab experience.” For engineering, a lot of the listings I’ve seen don’t focus on the actual degree either, just that it’s a BE instead of a BS or a BA.

        And then there’s other certifications and accreditation that you get on the job.

    3. Heidi*

      Yes to this. A great many people have jobs completely unrelated to their college major. I actually think the philosophy major is kind of cool because that was one of the more rigorous degree programs where I went to college. The anxiety for her daughter is understandable, but that first sentence adds a flavor of contempt to the mix that really undermined my sympathy for the OP.

    4. Holly*

      Completely agree with this. People don’t have the same attitude with someone that has a chemistry or microbiology degree but those people have trouble finding jobs too unless they are going to grad school/med school/etc. Only a few types of degrees like engineering are job-out-of-college oriented.

    5. tangerineRose*

      For me, college was an investment in my future – I majored in something I could get a good job in. I don’t understand how colleges can justify charging so much to educate people in something that might not help them at all.

  33. Bad Gay*

    #4 -go for it! I had a former coworker who had a bike accident right before their interview and it broke their bottom half of their front tooth off. The director was so impressed by their pluck that it was major points for their candidacy and they got the job!

  34. VeryAnon*

    LW2: Which dissenting opinion do they regard as valuable? The opinion that men should be paid more than women? I don’t consider that opinion valuable, personally, and if your team members do maybe they shouldn’t be working on equality and diversity.

    1. Joielle*


      Or the opinion that there are already enough people of color here, thank you very much? I think there are some very uncomfortable but necessary conversations on the horizon for the equality committee itself, and for the broader organization.

  35. VeryAnon*

    LW3: One huge reassurance – you don’t *have* to support your daughter financially if this jobs fails. In fact you shouldn’t. She can find another job, take a menial job in the meantime, sell her possessions, get on welfare.

    I don’t think she’ll be fired if she’s hitting her sales targets, but even if she does, she’s an adult, and not your responsibility.

    1. Scarlet*

      Ok, but part of supporting your child financially often means not letting them be homeless and giving them a place to live. In that case, yes, OP likely does feel like they have to support the daughter. As many parents do.

      I agree with not paying their bills and such, but bringing them into your home adds to electric bills and such.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is pretty over the top.

      Sure, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to but most parents who care about their kids and have the means, will indeed let them move back home. It’s been happening for generations, it’s not a “new” thing, it’s not something that millennials invented. My boomer uncles boomaranged to their parents house a couple of times during my life time and I was born when they were all in their 30’s. Each one of my grandparents were hardasses and still didn’t put them out on the street.

      You’re pretty awful assuming she has possessions to sell, that menial jobs are just handed out at the corner market like they’re there for the taking and that welfare is an actual thing that’s obtainable to just any ol’ person who rolls on up and knocks on the government’s door.

      1. neeko*

        As someone who used to be on food stamps, you have to jump through hoop after hoop to get them and it’s pretty easy for you to “make too much” to be on them but not enough to thrive.

        1. Ele4phant*

          Not that I disagree that our social safety net in this country is in tatters, and plenty of people find themselves making too much to qualify for assistance, and too little to actually get by.

          But, specific to the LW, isn’t this a little hysterical? Their (adult!) daughter has found a relatively lucrative job (I mean, I assume. Start-ups are risky, and sometimes the compensation isn’t great on the salary side, you get stock or equity and hope the product takes off or you get bought out). There is no (legitimate) reason to worry she’s about to be imminently fired. Who knows where the economy is going, but if she were to lose her job she’d now lose it with a professional history. At the moment, there are still plenty of jobs in the tech center. Could that all change rapidly? Yes, definitely. But at the moment she has a job, she’s not in danger of losing her job, there are other jobs out there.

          To spend your time imagining a scenario where she is fired and is utterly unable to find another job is pretty dire, worse case.

          I think it’s entirely reasonable to let her know now that’s she’s finished her professional education and has started her career, you trust and expect her to manage herself financially from here on out.

          Of course, if the worst truly does come to pass, she loses her job, the economy bottoms out, she literally can’t find ANYTHING that will pay enough for her to meet the bare minimums, things can be revisited before she gets put out on the street.

          But I think given the situation as it is now, it is okay to start setting the expectation that she’s in charge of and responsible for her own life.

          1. VeryAnon*

            This. If she’s hitting her sales targets then she’s unlikely to be fired. And if she is, good sales people rarely struggle for work.

        2. VeryAnon*

          There’s no thriving on benefits / welfare / food stamps and anyone who says otherwise has an agenda.

          I’ve been there. It’s lovely being treated like a conniving thief for £45 a week and half your rent money.

          But her daughter having to struggle does not obligate parental support. Especially because the anxiety LW reports implies they can’t afford to support her financially.

      2. VeryAnon*

        Over the top? Expecting an adult with a degree to support themselves is OTT?

        And no, I’m not being ‘pretty awful’, I’m describing how I supported myself when I lost my first professional job.

        And by possessions I mean old clothes and books. I imagine if the daughter has worked six months in a sales job her possessions have a far higher resale value than mine did.

        I’m not saying it was nice experience. I bought cutlery from charity shops and my food when the market was closing. But it was certainly doable.

        Plus if LW is this anxious about daughter losing her job it implies she can’t afford to support her.

        1. Scarlet*

          Good for you for being in a position to be able to financially support yourself when you lost your job. I was laid off two years ago – it was my first job being able to start saving. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough to support myself through unemployment. I DID sell everything, but then I still had to move back in with the parents. I agree with the other poster, you are being a bit much here. It’s pretty rough out there and it sounds like you were luckier than most.

          1. VeryAnon*

            Lucky? It was my first ‘proper’ job. It paid £7k under the national average. I was laid off nine months in. I had zero savings. I slept on friends couches, wore thrifted clothes to professional jobs, got into huge debt. I wore £7 boots to a winter temp job and literally ate root vegetable soup for days because my food budget was £10 a week. I lost a stone and a half. At one point the benefits office assumed I was lying to them about my part time hours because they failed to understand the concept of Christmas retail work. I wasn’t ‘lucky’ in any sense of the word. Moving home wasn’t an option. So I coped.

          2. VeryAnon*

            I should clarify as well – both you and other poster seem to be assuming some sort of judgement of people who move back home. Nope. If you can and you have to, and your parents can afford to support you, great.

            My post was supposed to be reassuring LW that if they couldn’t support their daughter, she’d probably be fine, and that she had options beside ‘total parental support / starving on the street’.

            I do have slight judgement in that I have acquaintances and relatives who’ve moved / stayed home, not because they *had* to, but because it was more convenient. I do think those people should have more consideration for whether the people they’re leaning on can afford to support them, and whether they’re inconveniencing those people for their own economic gain.

        2. Ele4phant*

          I think the point is (for me at least, I don’t necessarily speak for the other commenter although we may have some overlap in our perceptions), is that the specific scenario in which the LW’s daughter finds herself suddenly jobless and destitute is possible, but not probable. They are needlessly anxious about a situation that may never come to pass (and frankly, I think likely won’t). Furthermore, I think it is *reasonable* to set expectations *now* that the LW’s daughter is to be responsible for her own life. She’s got to be at least 25 if she banged right through school, she’s got a masters and now a professional history. Trust that she is in the driver’s seat for her own life, and will continue to do so, regardless of what happens. Stop imaging and worrying about what you are going to do if things fall apart. They may never fall apart, and if htey do, they should let her, expect her, to call the shots for her own life.

          Of course, if the improbable does happen, and she loses her job and is not able to figure out how to keep herself housed and fed, by all means they can step in if this comes to pass.

          But, they should start from a place in which they assume that will not be necessary, because she is a functioning adult and that won’t change even if her job goes away.

          I feel for you in your situation, so much. I lost a job in 2009 and didn’t start a meaningful career until 2012. But, its not the LW’s daughter’s situation. Not now, maybe not ever.

            1. Ele4phant*

              Yeah, I want to be sympathetic to the folks on here who are parents that worry about their adult children, because I’m sure that 18th birthday doesn’t fundamentally turn off all that love and concern you’ve been putting in the past two decades.

              But, I am a 33 year old that’s tired of having people look at people my age and assume we’re well, children. If people need help, help them (and if those people are your children, you can definitely help them when they are in need), but I’d like the default assumption to be that people my age are grown-ups and capable of taking care of ourselves in hard times (and capable of reaching out and asking for help when we need it).

              Please stop with the hand wringing and hovering.

      3. VeryAnon*

        As a flip side, I don’t think it’s ‘awful’ but I do find it pretty odd that you expect adults to support other adults financially. I’m in my thirties and I think ‘boomerang’ kids should maybe think more carefully about the sacrifices they expect other people to make for their wellbeing. Like if it’s a choice between homelessness and moving back home, sure. But that’s rare. Usually it’s a choice between “zomg I might have to reduce my lifestyle” versus moving back home. In that case I don’t think it’s a micro-aggression to suggest that grown adults should move into a house share and eat ramen rather than disrupting their parents’ lives and budgets.

    3. Ele4phant*

      I don’t mean to diminish the love parents have for their adult children, but as an adult millennial with a bachelors and a masters degrees in a “useless” humanity, I do think *they* need to calm down here.

      First off – they may not understand how work works anymore, particularly if you are in a customer facing roll in the tech world. From where I sit, it sounds like she’s not taken off much time at all. She worked remotely during the family reunion, she worked remotely while visiting grandma. If her company isn’t worried, they shouldn’t worry.

      Furthermore, again as someone with “useless” degrees, I’ve none-the-less managed to keep myself housed and fed without relying on my parents once my professional life started. Even after getting laid off during the Great Recession! Give her some credit, if she’s and smart and motivated as they believe she is, she’ll figure it out if and when she needs to.

      There’s a wide gulf between fully paying her way should she lose her job (which frankly – seems kind of OCD that they are worrying about that right now) and turning their backs on her entirely if she loses her job.

      They can, they should, expect that she’ll figure it out if she has to. I’m sure they can help in small ways, but most young adults don’t have parents that are even in a position to take them back in and pay for them, they just have to make it work. If LW is clear with their daughter that’s what she’ll need to do if she ever finds herself fired and unemployed, so too can she.

      1. VeryAnon*

        Thank you! Most of us don’t have the option of ‘boomeranging’ – and yet we survive. Weird.

        1. Ele4phant*

          Yeah, I mean, by all means, IF she’s jobless and can’t get a job or support and she’s facing being homeless, help your child.

          But also, why are you sitting here worrying about that when she’s fully employed at the moment, building a work history.

          It doesn’t seem rational or healthy.

        2. Jamie*

          That’s great that you have, but not everyone does. For some the loss of a job starts a spiral that without some financial help could leave someone without basic needs.

          1. Ele4phant*

            But, she’s not jobless nor is she immenitely in danger of being jobless.

            Also, if she were to lose her job, she (likely? I don’t actually know) wouldn’t be facing homelessness over night. She could, should, be expected to be an adult first and figure it out.

            If she can’t, by all means, don’t leave your adult child to freeze on the street. But I don’t think it’s crazy to have the mindset that you’re not on the front line to help your productive, educated, currently employed adult child the instant they find themselves without a job. That you assume your adult child will be capable of working it out until proven otherwise.

          2. VeryAnon*

            Jamie, I think that very much depends on your definition of ‘basic needs’. As I elaborated in a previous comment, when I say ‘survived’, I mean a £10 a week food budget ‘survived’. In retrospect I should have gone to food pantries / banks. I’m also not suggesting they let her get to that point. I am suggesting that they let her succeed and fail on her own terms. And that they don’t freak out because it’s entirely possible their 25 year old daughter who is successfully working a sales job can navigate temping, welfare and eBay without their hovering.

            1. Ele4phant*

              Yeah, I certainly am not saying “You should refuse to help your struggling adult child no matter what.”

              Rather, I’ve been saying, she’s not struggling, so let’s not put the cart before the horse.

              You should trust you raised a smart capable adult that can handle life. If extraordinary circumstances come to pass, and they might, by all means, be there for her if and when she needs it.

              But there’s no reason to sit around, right now, fearing a situation that may never come to pass. She may never be without meaningful employment, she may be able to navigate unemployment without parental assistance. Don’t worry about these things right now.

            2. Jamie*

              And many people can, I’m just saying that while some people absolutely can survive very tough financial straights and regroup…sometimes they can’t and a little help would have kept them from a downward spiral.

              My only point was that it’s very individual depending on a lot of factors and some people will come out okay and some won’t. It’s human nature to worry.

              1. VeryAnon*

                Honestly Jamie I’m not sure I’d say I did ‘come out ok’. But I’m alive! And assuming your adult child will be destroyed unless you cover all their expenses isn’t helpful to either party.

                1. Jamie*

                  I don’t think we disagree … I’m not talking coddling adult children or protecting them from the real world. I have two adult children at home (both working and in college) and the last thing I’d want is to take their autonomy.

                  But when my other kid, young adult on their own, was having a rough patch and struggling for money I wasn’t above pretending to have a grocery mishap where I bought too much for the freezer/fridge/pantry so made them take it off my hands. And they all know that as long as I have a place to live and food to eat they do, too.

                  I get the need for kids to stand on their own two feet, but I also get a parent’s fear. I think it’s good the mom wrote in to Alison for a reality check.

                2. Ele4phant*

                  And I’m coming at this not from the perspective not of a parent, but of an older millennial that lived that lost a job and was unemployed/underemployed for three years, and I figured it out without a substantial amount of financial assistance. I’m not everyone, but neither is the LW’s daughter. We all have our unique set of circumstances.

                  I don’t think the LW is doing their adult daughter any favors but assuming already that she can’t manage if she lost her job. I mean, she has a job, right now! And you’re worrying about her losing it and not giving her any benefit of the doubt that she’s going to be able to figure it out without you supporting her financially. Belief in her and make her prove you wrong before you step in!

                  I don’t think its wrong to not only check LW’s assumptions about working norms, but to also check her assumptions about what would happen if her daughter is suddenly become unemployed.

                  I’m sure you never stop worrying about your kids, but you also need to stop assuming it’s your job to swoop in there.

              2. Ele4phant*

                Well sure.

                But the LW wrote in being worried about their employed adult daughter. They’re concerns, while understandable given the shifting norms around work/norms in the industry they once worked are very different, are not reasonable.

                So, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say “Chill out. Your child isn’t in that situation yet, maybe never will be.” And frankly, I don’t think its unreasonable to expect and hope your child can manage themselves in the event of unemployment. Right now, they seem to be starting from the assumption that they have to rush in immediately. If this happens, give her the time and space to figure it out herself first. Start with the assumption that she can.

  36. Nicole*

    OP#2, I’m a woman and just *reading* your descriptions of the vandalism made me feel uncomfortable/not welcome. This is a great example of what a “hostile work environment” is, and ignoring it will only send the message that you don’t actually care.

    Can the posters be moved somewhere more conspicuous where it’ll be harder to vandalize? Since I don’t know how big your company is I’d suggest emailing the managers or other higher ups in the place and have them each address what happened with their groups in person. This shouldn’t be tolerated.

    OP#3, based on your language describing your daughter, it sounds to me like you’re unhappy with her career choices and you’re projecting that on to her. You make her sound like some sort of aimless woman-child that needs you to look after her instead of a college graduate that nailed a job that’s good enough to let her take time off to spend with her family. I understand that you’re worried, but you said yourself that you haven’t worked in a while so you have absolutely no idea what the norms are now. Supporting a kid right out of college while they job hunt isn’t abnormal regardless of their major. Relax and let your daughter be an adult.

      1. nonegiven*

        Finding out it’s in the men’s room made me feel better about it. Are there men’s rooms anywhere that don’t get vandalized a little?

        I mean it’s not good but at least in the men’s room, most women will never see it. It’s not like it got vandalized in a main hallway outside the dean’s office.

  37. LGC*

    Woo, LW3!

    It sounds like your daughter took…like, 3 1/2 weeks off from work over the course of the year. That’s not unreasonable! Especially if she’s in a line of work where the holidays are downtime. Your work – which was many years ago and in an entirely different field – may not have allowed that much PTO/vacation or to have both major US holidays off, but that’s not the universal norm. I’ll use myself as an example – I’m in the US, and supervise file clerks at a social enterprise. I did retain our old PTO plan, but I have five and a half weeks of paid time off granted per year. (Because we’re a state contractor, we do have to have year-round coverage, but it just means that someone has to be in the office. Sometimes it’s me, sometimes it’s not.)

    I don’t think your daughter’s performance is that much of an issue in this case. I feel like if it was that significant of an issue in her office, the people who approve time off requests (whether her boss or HR) wouldn’t have signed off on it.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Less – I’d put it at 2.5 at most, and with ‘working remotely’, maybe as little as 1.5. In the US for a non-retail sales position, Tgiving ‘week’ would be at most 3 days, Christmas would be another 3 . The way Christmas is this year (Weds), I’d expect a lot of businesses to just close all week, or only be open on M or Th/Fr. Hard to make sales calls when your customers are not working…

      1. LGC*

        True – I was so focused on what LW3 had wrong that I forgot that my own workplace’s schedule is a bit wonky! (Basically, we only get state holidays off – and Black Friday/the days around Christmas are not state holidays. But on the other hand, we get Election Day and Veterans’ Day off, which is nice.) And I assumed that the reunion was a week, which was on the very high end. (And also, the daughter was working remote, which…like, kind of doesn’t count as a vacation, where I did count it.)

        But even still – even if she did take 3 1/2 weeks off from work including both major holidays, that doesn’t sound that outlandish to me – especially since if LW3 had written this in October, she would have been out of office 1 1/2 weeks maximum in her first six months.

  38. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP4 – I broke my denture before an interview, so had to go with missing front teeth.

    I just said at start “please excuse appearance – I broke my denture!” – they made sympathetic noises, and we continued with interview – and I got the job (at more money than I expected)!

    1. Nozen*

      I did an interview for an internship once with a black eye. I was in college and had been playing intramural coed floor hockey and got elbowed in the face. I just explained that it was sports related said something along the lines of: I know it looks alarming but we won the match.

      As far as makeup goes, if wearing it was a prerequisite for hiring, I’d have never gotten a single job I’ve had. Even sensitive skin makeup makes me itch and/or break out in hives. The most makeup like thing I own is chapstick.

  39. Jcarnall*

    OP1; I have been in that situation – the lower-level employee being told to do something by the CEO who didn’t tell my manager he was telling me what to do – and it is really unnerving. First of all, because the first couple of times it happened, I just assumed the CEO had of course told the manager – and my manager had no idea that for all of Tuesday I’d been working on X project for CEO and not on Y project as manager and I had scheduled. So when I was discussing Y project with manager and they asked “Why aren’t you further on?” and I said “Well, there was that full day I spent working on X for CEO…” and that was literally the first manager had heard about it and of course they were tetchy but it was really freaking unnerving for me.

    So I’d totally agree with Alison: lay it out clearly for your team. If the CEO tells them to do something, no matter how minor or trivial, loop the manager in on it immediately. Tell the CEO you’ve instructed your team to do this and it’s non-optional for them to comply. (I can just see the CEO in my situation telling me “Oh, and don’t bother telling your manager, this is not going to occupy a significant amount of your time, just get it done.”)

    Being in this situation between CEO and manager is really stressful. Ideally how things work out is the manager taking the trouble on their head for the team, but I can absolutely see this is an instance for group work – if all managers have all their teams instructed to loop them in on CEO-instructions, and pushback from management to CEO happens as a group, then this is clearly not one “troublmaking” manager interfering in the proper relationship of CEO to subordinate.

    1. CM*

      Putting yourself in between your reports and the CEO, as jcarnall suggests, is a great idea. That way your team can always say yes to the CEO, and you can be the bad guy if necessary. And you can do it tactfully by saying, “Jamie told me you asked for Project #1 to be finished immediately. I wanted to let you know that Project #3 is due tomorrow, so I’d like to her to work on that first. Then we’ll make sure Project #1 gets done.” It will be much easier for you to say this to the CEO than for your team members. You can do it in a matter-of-fact way that says to the CEO that of course you are responsible for prioritizing your team’s work. And if you get pushback from the CEO, you’re much more able to stand up to it by explaining how it benefits the company to prioritize more urgent projects.

  40. Thankful for AAM*

    OP#3 I read you as worried you will be in the position of providing for your adult daughter. So rather than try to manager her work relationships, manage your relationship with her. Make it clear what you can and cannot do moving forward. That might include asking her if she has the financial planning info she needs now that she is at work. In my mind, is a 6 months emergency fund she can build up so she is not dependent on you if she does lose her job. My son created an emergency fund and we are clear with him we are here in an emergency but that he is funding it first.

    I had a coworker who was newly out of school and was back living with their mom after dealing with the consequences of poor financial decisions. They were dependent on mom so mom did the equivalent of hiring a financial planner to teach my coworker how to do the things mom assumed coworker knew but did not. In other words, mom put herself in the position of making sure her adult child had the facts they needed to not be dependent on mom.

    I highly recommend the book, the Index Card. It is a way to get started with independent finances and is a great refresher and a very good conversation starter.

  41. Phoenix Programmer*

    #1 I worked on one of these teams and it was very demoralizing. Our boss and grand boss would complain that we were not adding value to the org since we’re “always putting out fires” and great grand boss would complain if you didn’t get his report reformated in <4hrs. I and the individual contributor felt like we couldn't win.

    My advice: acknowledge the CEOs requests and give your team guidelines to help prioritize. (Don't demand everyone email you and then not respond and then get upset 3 days later when they did ceo task and not yours for example)
    Know that ceo may not be providing any context. I know ours didn't, so IC prioritization was impossible.
    Consider building a ticket system or process where all CEO tasks can be entered so you can quickly assign and delegate. CEOs choice may not be the best in all contexts. Finally, own the communication. Nothing I worse then having to Bo's tell you no x, while your CEO gets increasingly irrate at you that x is not done yet. Considering keeping your team in the loop on your communications so they know you have their back.

    Hope you figure out way to make this work for everyone.

  42. Pretzelgirl*

    OP3- I am in my mid 30’s and I have had several jobs since graduating college. In almost everyone I have taken a vacation in the first 6 months. No one ever batted an eye. One I was hired and had a vacation planned the next month and everyone was totally fine with me taking it. Vacation culture (most places) has changed a lot in the past 20 years. Most places are totally fine with you taking vacations and time off. My current place of employment gives us so much time off, I practically have to take 2-3 days off a month. I’ve only been at my current job for 2 years. Trust your daughter to make the right decisions for her.

    1. Quill*

      Last year I had already scheduled a 4 day weekend road trip with a college friend that happened the second week of my job. I explained upon hiring that I’d already paid for it, and the overall response was “sure, take it (unpaid), you’re only training that day.”

  43. LGC*

    Okay, so since the other letters need more love (and since it seems like everyone else has yelled at LW3):

    LW1 – oh my.

    My team’s main obstacle to success is the CEO of the company

    I used to do marching band in high school. We were…decent! We were a competition band. (About 10 years or so after I graduated, my high school’s band was one of the backing bands at the Super Bowl – granted, part of that is that my high school was like the next town over from the stadium, but still.) Obviously, we had a color guard, and because the late 90’s/early ’00’s, we had cheesy props. I think one year we had a huge red flag. (I know that because the 90’s, other schools had cheesy props and huge red flags.)

    This sentence is even bigger than that. It’s not the biggest red flag I’ve ever seen, but it’s pretty honking large.

    Anyway – so, yeah, I do think you should consider leaving, simply because it sounds like your relationship with upper management is awful. (I’m confident in saying that because – again – you described your CEO as your team’s main obstacle to success!) That’s a terrible situation to be in, and you deserve better than that.

    In the meantime…it sounds like your department has multiple people in it, and he’s just delegating things scattershot because that’s how he works. Would you be able to say, “Hi Fergus, going forward could you direct all requests to Jane?” (With Jane’s knowledge, of course.) I think part of the reason is that everyone drops everything for the CEO, which is understandable…but also dysfunctional, as you’ve found out. If you have one person that has to deal with him instead of your entire team, that’s a bit easier to manage. You could also be Jane in this scenario and delegate, but that requires you to…be a little bit less annoyed with him. (And by that, I mean – you need to prioritize his tasks, but delegate to the person most able to handle them.)

    1. Bob3*

      OP here.

      Thanks for the advice. I struggled with that wording a bit, but left it because it’s frankly the truth. It’s unfortunate, because other than this issue, this company is the best place I’ve ever worked.

      1. LGC*


        So, like – it seems like the CEO is the missing stair here. If the job is otherwise great – and it sounds like it is – then…probably your best shot is to work around him. He doesn’t have any incentive to change because he’s The Boss, and you already know what you’re getting.

        It’s something I’ve had to learn myself – people can be terrible at prioritizing, so sometimes you have to do it for them! It’s a pain in the behind as a middle manager, but it’s a pretty useful skill to have. Like – my first question on any project is, “when do you need it by?” And if they’re vague or say something like, “ASAP,” then it’s like, “Okay, but we really need to get X done by Thursday morning – I can try to get to it after that.”

        (Fortunately, upper management is really understanding in this case! But if your CEO isn’t, then – yeah – you’re going to have to figure out how to square that circle.

  44. PolarVortex*


    Sincerely consider doing more than a blanket email. You’re probably long enough gone from the original vandalism that it’s going to come off rather pat at best. If it had been done immediately following the defacing and had a level of weight behind it, perhaps from head honcho person or head of HR, it would have a different level to it.

    There’s a few things I’d consider:
    1) Usually in this level of a toxic environment, people are bragging about what they did. Someone knows who did this, see if you can find out which would allow you to have a conversation with them/their manager. More so, gossip in any office spreads faster than the flu in a daycare, so lots of people know about it. Engage your network, and if you don’t have one, it’s time to build one so you can know the underground issues that your team needs to combat.

    2) Meetings. You need to have meetings, starting with Management talking about how this is Serious. Business. and This. Is. Not. Okay. That they need to keep their eye on their team and there’s no “good ol boy” or “frat boy” tacit okay for it because “they mean it in fun”, it’s “just how x is”, or any sort of justification.

    3) You need to start more active discussions with those in your company. Don’t just hold meetings and hope people will show up, start by targeting 1:1 both people who are the influencers in each dept and people who are in the minorities in each dept. You need to be honest with the latter saying you know there’s seems to be a serious underlying issue and you want to know more. With the influencers, you need to gain their buy in to this cause so they’re the advocates in their dept/call out the people who are doing this.

    Good luck, my company has made strides in this, but it’s taken a lot of pointed effort with the weight of the C-levels behind them on it. It’s still not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I can say after multiple years I’ve seen a difference. You’re not going to make changes overnight, but with hard work and the company behind you, you can make a change.

  45. University Minion*

    I’d love to see OP3’s daughter’s response to her letter. I suspect she’d be fairly horrified. She sounds like a sharp young woman who’s doing just fine.

  46. Scarlet*

    Philosophy is important and on the one hand I’m happy people are investing the time to earn degrees in it. But colleges who offer this as a degree should be pairing with local companies or something to help those who graduate in it get jobs in their field.

    1. Fikly*

      They should do that with all majors, then. Very few have any direct relationships to careers outside of technical school majors.

    2. Joielle*

      Most degrees don’t really have “a field,” though, at least in the sense of “a job that clearly and obviously follows from this degree.” Someone with a history or communications or poli sci major could do any number of things. I don’t think philosophy is any worse for job-seeking than any of those more common degrees.

      1. Joielle*

        And, to tie it back to the letter – I think this type of attitude about philosophy is tainting OP’s whole view of the daughter’s professional choices. OP doesn’t seem to trust the daughter’s decisions in general, which is not great for their relationship. (My mom is the same way towards me, and we don’t talk about much but the weather anymore.)

        1. Quill*

          Philosophy as a bachelor’s degree has a lot of obvious and common routes out of it, and most of them lead to grad school or law school… which the daughter did, I think she’s got a very clear idea of what she’s doing and where she’s going.

      2. Dasein9*

        Joielle has it right. Philosophy is a field of study that prepares one for lifelong learning, rather than training for a specific job. This is valuable in a world where we are now expected to have 3-4 careers over the course of a lifetime. Philosophy tends to produce clear writers and incisive problem-solvers, as it’s a writing-heavy field and the concepts one expresses in coursework require precision.

        That said, it’s interesting to note that, overall, the median earnings of Philosophy majors tend to be higher than other Humanities fields and a recent study shows Philosophy as producing the 16th highest median salaries among graduates, in a comparison of 50 majors.

    3. Ele4phant*

      I don’t know that colleges should be in the roll of training people for work. That is fundamentally not what a liberal arts degree is about, it’s about learning how to think.

      Now, I think that should be made more clear to youngsters, and I think we need more postsecondary options, more vocational and professional training options. Getting a bachelors isn’t for everyone, and they should stop selling them like they are.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Yeah … we can have bachelor’s degrees for becoming a well-rounded educated person, or we can have them as the check-mark you need to get a decent job. And if one is going to borrow money, the second option needs to be able to lead to a job that can pay back the investment. The first option is, quite frankly, a luxury good that no one should borrow money for. Lovely to have, but not an investment.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Yeah, I think a lot of 18 year olds pick a major thinking of course it will lead to a job – it’s a college major, right? For a lot of us, college is expensive, and especially for kids starting out, they should get some advice so they can make the most of college. Which for those of us without trust funds tends to mean using college to get a better job.

    4. Holly*

      I’ve said this upthread, but my friends who were hard science majors all needed to go to grad school (nursing, medical school, public health, law, social work, etc.) to find a job. Most fields, liberal arts or not, are not directly matched with a job. Liberal arts degrees are not special in that way.

      More importantly though, this comment is not responsive to the OP at all.

      1. Scarlet*

        I wasn’t necessarily responding to OP, I was sharing an opinion that was relevant to the topic at hand. I am aware that most fields aren’t tied to a job… I wasn’t implying that others were? Just that philosophy is important and we should help graduates with this degree get jobs related to field so it doesn’t die out?? Not sure why this is so offensive.

        1. Ele4phant*

          I think fundementally, colleges have sold what they offer as a way to get a job (and employers have also come to expect that as well), but their function is not, and never has been, to train you for a job. Its been to make you a well rounded person that knows how to think. And that IS important, but it’s not a straight shot to a specific job, nor does it teach you how to market that.

          I don’t think changing the fundamental mission of what a college degree is supposed to do is the right answer. I think colleges and universities need to better clarify what it is they offer young people, AND I think we need more post secondary options in society. We need a great deal of investment in post-secondary vocational training and things like apprenticeship programs.

          Quite frankly, a four year degree is not the right choice for a lot, if not most, young adults, and yet most kids go get a college degree because there aren’t any other obvious paths available to them.

        2. Holly*

          I must have misunderstood your point, because I thought the implication was that for a philosophy degree to be “worth it” or have value there should be a job matching program.

    5. nonegiven*

      Technically philosophy is critical thinking. Philosophy is also the root that physics started from. If you know how to think, there is a lot you can handle.

  47. blackcatlady*

    LW#3: Your daughter sounds like she is working hard and did not take unreasonable time off. I also work in a lab so don’t have the ability to remote work. But that is more of a thing now for many kinds of jobs. The only question I have is about student loans – are you a cosigner for them? Then you are allowed to worry because if your daughter can’t pay the lender will come after you. Otherwise back off, you’re helicoptering.

  48. Jean*

    Love to LW #4 from a fellow eczema sufferer. I get horrible flare ups on my hands when the seasons change, and I had someone comment on it during an interview a few years ago. I agree, just give a brief disclaimer and move on. If you act like it’s no big deal, then it won’t be. Hope it clears up soon!

  49. Maggie*

    #2 at my last job with “you’ve definitely heard of them / have their products in your home” company we had a mural in a heavily trafficked hallway. Someone drew ‘privates’ on all of the women in the painting and it was just …. left there! I stopped taking the elevator to my top floor office because I couldn’t stand seeing it everyday. I took another job six months later and it was still there when I left.

  50. Phony Genius*

    On #1, this happens a lot where I work. All the managers hate it, but never say anything.

    We were trying to come up with a phrase to describe what is essentially the opposite of “going over the boss’s head.” “Going below the boss’s feet” didn’t seem to make sense. Any suggestions?

  51. Quill*

    OP#2, I’m not certain this is a warning sign that you’ve got more than one toxic misogynist in your building, but you’ve definitely got the one, and he thinks he’s speaking for a lot of men, or he wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of spending money to buy a completely different poster to mock your campaign. Be on the lookout for more of the same, and if the campaign against your diversity initiative escalates, don’t write it off.

    I’m going to be charitable and assume that your colleagues have never been on the internet or they’d be well aware that vandalism and trolling isn’t a “dissenting opinion” it’s just people purposefully making life difficult. And I’m surprised, if they’re running a workplace diversity campaign, that they think they need dissenting opinions, when the poster you mention being vandalized is based on reported fact.

  52. Bunny Girl*

    #4 – Hello fellow eczema sufferer! I hope you feel better soon. I actually don’t wear a lot of make-up to work, and I stopped doing a full face of make-up for interviews because I imagine when I turn up for the actual job they’re thinking “Who is this 12 year old we hired?”

    So don’t worry about putting a base on if it irritates your face. I’ve found that just grooming your eyebrows (filling them in if that look is for you) and putting on a lightly tinted lip stain or balm makes you look as put together as you need to be. That’s my go to look honestly. If you feel better putting a little mascara on, that can complete your look, but if not, just curl your eyelashes.

    1. OP4*

      Yeah, I don’t wear makeup on the regular, and “makeup” for me on days when I need it (meetings with people outside the company, conferences) is very basic–no full face foundation or powder or anything. Just under-eye concealer (to hide that “I’ve been using corticosteroids that thin the skin!” look), neutral eye shadow, mascara, and lip balm. But even that was outside the realm in the middle of the flare.

      Thankfully, it’s been almost a week since I wrote the letter and it’s much, MUCH better now, and I didn’t end up needing to go to an interview with a full-on flare, but it is something I’ve worried about dealing with, so I’m glad I asked Alison.

  53. Goldfinch*

    #4 As the spouse of someone with severe psoriasis, I agree with Alison that you need to own it quickly, and then deflect to a new topic. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed a lot of rude, intrusive comments being made to my husband, and getting the person over their “OMG, is that contagious!?!?” reflex will be important in an interview situation. If you’re matter of fact instead of apologetic, that will lead the interviewer away from the topic.

  54. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    You cannot be stressing out over your daughter’s job like this. You’re well aware you’ve been out of the workforce for awhile. Your experience is old and in a different field!

    We hired a guy who needed 3 weeks spread out the first 6-8 months post hire. With only limited PTO available after 3 months. It didn’t blip on our radar, we just let him know some would have up be unpaid so we were on the right page. I put it on our shared calendar and we worked around it easily.

    Especially since she can work remotely, that makes things easier.

    Startups are also often very flexible and willing to accept alternative options to keep employees on board.

    My parents also struggle to understand schedules that aren’t shift work or strictly 9-5. That’s okay! It’s not their schedule. They don’t need to understand. But they certainly don’t stress after I confirm that “yeah, still don’t have a solid start time. I just get there before 9 or let my boss know if I’m running later than 9.” I get in any time between 6 and 9am. I took time to see a sick uncle last minute last year. I only used 2hrs PTO despite missing 2 days because of my flexible schedule.

  55. voluptuousfire*

    OP#3–Your daughter likely has flexible vacation time. It’s fairly common in the tech/software worlds. As long as you’re doing your work well, your boss has the discretion to approve vacation time as needed.

    She also may be working remotely, as you saw her. I’ve had colleagues who did that–traveled to a different location and working during business hours and then saw the city in the afternoon/evenings. It’s actually pretty cool when you can work virtually anywhere. Your daughter is fine.

  56. LGC*

    LW2 – take this as you will since I’m from the East Coast, but I feel like the wording you provided was a bit passive. They shouldn’t be vandalizing the posters full stop! Like, I’m a manchild myself (there was the one time where facilities put yellow tape across a bathroom door and I wrote “CAUTION POLICE ACTIVITY” on it, and then another time where I plastered our hallways with a photo of an inflatable lawn toy photoshopped on a milk carton), but I would definitely draw the line well before vandalizing someone else’s flyers or posters.

    I can’t wordsmith a good message right now, but basically, I’d turn around what you suggested – they shouldn’t be vandalizing the posters (or any posters), and then if they have any comments they can direct them towards X or Y. It’s a bit scoldy, I admit, but…you know, sometimes you need to be a scold.

    LW4 – as a member of the patriarchy: I think that Alison gave the best answer possible. I mean, obviously your face is not at its best. It happens! You’re not the first person to suffer eczema at a very inconvenient time. I would hope that most people would understand, and if they don’t, that’s a clear sign of dysfunction.

    And, okay, I’m a guy, so I have more leeway. But also, I think that if you do try to cover it up or just pretend that it’s not there, it’ll probably look worse.

    LW5 – I was going to joke that you were Friday LW3’s manager, but then I read the letter. I do think that part of it might be that you’re well-known – they might feel like a “thanks” would just be clutter and you won’t see it. (Which is silly if you’re actually responding to them, but I can kind of follow the logic.)

    I’ll note that yes, I’m aware that they’re different situations – the Friday LW was annoyed by the manager who asked for seemingly reply-all thanks on everything she sent out, and LW5 is a reasonable person who expects at least a minimum acknowledgement that she went a bit out of her way for a stranger. But LW5, you’re totally not off base!

    1. LW5*

      LW5 here – I will admit that it was Friday’s letter that actually inspired me to write to Allison about this issue that’s been annoying me for awhile. :) I’ve also considered the “don’t want to clutter my inbox” logic but I feel like if they’re willing to clutter my inbox with asking for a favor, they can clutter it with a thank you as well!

      1. LGC*

        True – but people are weird and forget that famous people are…uh…people, too.

        I totally agree that if you’ve already barged into someone’s inbox demanding assistance and you don’t have an existing relationship that gives you that permission, then the least you can do is say thanks if they actually take time to respond! Even if you think they probably won’t see it!

  57. Veronica*

    #2, another aspect of the women-only running group occurs to me: running with a group is much safer for women than running alone.
    That might be a point you can use in your education efforts.

  58. T. Boone Pickens*

    LW #3

    I haven’t see anyone specifically mention this so I’ll touch on the sales part. Sales is one of the few career paths where generally you’re going to get a lot of freedom to do your job if you’re producing/meeting quota which it sounds like your daughter is from your letter. This freedom can extend to all sorts of things from flexible scheduling, remote work, less ‘face’ time than other departments, all sorts of things. Good sales people are hard to find in general and generally get treated like gold. When it comes to startups where often times compensation can vary way more (less base salary/more commission, stock options/equity in lieu of raises, lower starting wages in general, etc.) those good salespeople turn from gold into diamonds.

    I completely understand where you’re coming from since it sounds like you’ve had to hold the bag for her in the past or may have to if this position falls through. Honestly though, your work experience in hospital lab decades ago is completely different than a start up software sales position in present day. I know it’ll be difficult but you need to take a step back, hover less and trust they’ve instilled a good value system in your daughter and that she knows her job and her company and can navigate them effectively.

    Good luck!

    1. Ele4phant*

      I’m not in sales, I am in consulting.

      And its very much, as long as you get the work down, I don’t care where you are. And it also means, you don’t have to work a 9-to-5. Sometimes that means you work way less. Sometimes it means you need to work way more. Sometimes it means you work an 8 hour day, but you can roll in at ten, do a four or five hours of work, leave, go hang out with your kids, have dinner, put the kids to bed, than log back on later that night.

      I see a lot of my friends in all sorts of that industries that give to work like that. My husband is a software engineer, and he works like that too, although our jobs could not be more different.

      I understand LW3 is nervous about their daughter, but they need to trust that she’s doing what she needs to do.

  59. CaptainoftheNoFunDepartment*

    OP#3 I say this s a person who has worked in software most of their career. Please be comforted that these companies tend to care more about achievement than bums in seats. They encourage people to use their time off as a retention tool and because employees who have had the opportunity to rest are more productive employees. They also don’t see remote work as time off.

    OP#1 Would it make sense to encourage the CEO to hire an Executive Assistant? It may be that he has too much going on and is doing whatever he can to get things off of his plate so he can think about other things. An EA could help manage how that happens because they would be responsible for taking all of those things and redistribute them working with yourself and the other managers.

  60. Anon but wish I didn’t have to be*

    OP #2: find who’s doing it, and fire them for cause. Then fire everyone who’s happy about them for cause. Make sure their file says ineligible for rehire and fire any employees who give the fired employees positive references. People who support this do not deserve jobs.

  61. Observer*

    @Dr Wizard, PhD* “ Can we agree . . . and that this might be relevant in situations like the OP’s letter?

    No, we can’t. This does not sound like cultural norms around work and vacation. If there are cultural norms at play, it’s around helicoptering and keeping adults in a perpetual state of childhood, extended adolescence or “emergent adulthood” (ie we’ll pretend they are adults but treat them like children.

    What the daughter is doing actually sounds pretty typical for the kind of job she’s in.

  62. Rainbow Roses*

    #3, Employees get a certain amount of vacation days per year. For example, I get three weeks. If I don’t take any vacation days in the first six months of the year, I’m sure my employer will get pissed off! It’s the same for your daughter. She’s doing a good thing spreading out her vacation days instead of leaving it all until the end when she’s forced to take them all in one lump sum. Use it or lose it!

    The time and timeframe your daughter took off sounds perfectly normal.

  63. pcake*

    Is my daughter taking too much time off?

    For many of us these days, our actual presence and where we work is totally different than it was when you were in the work force. When my mother was in the hospital, I took my laptop and worked while she was asleep. There was no reason anyone would have known from my work that I was at the hospital since the work got done in the same amount and quality as usual. I’ve also worked on a bench at the beach to the sound of the waves and seagulls.

  64. Liz T*

    I’m confused as why the business would put up posters about equal pay and equitable hiring when they could just…pay equally and hire equitably. What purpose are the posters supposed to serve?

    So often I feel like companies try to make these values the responsibility of employees rather than management, even when that makes no logistical sense.

    1. Mobuy*

      I was trying to figure out why these posters bugged me, and I think you answered that for me. What is the point of the posters? To prove that someone is woke? Spend the money some other way! Like, on equality!

      Also, what is the point of an all-women’s running group being sponsored by the company? Why isn’t it just a running group? Would an all-men’s running group also be allowed? It seems that, in the name of equality, some people are being left out and some money is being spent for no discernible purpose. But I may be wrong.

      1. Just Saying*

        I also find it questionable why there would be an equity poster next to a gender exclusive running group. Call me insensitive, but that seems inequitable. I am a woman and I would probably think the company is full of bs.

  65. ajay*

    OP 5, the helper and advisor for free, remember that most people are ungrateful. Do not expect them to thank you and if any one does, it should be a pleasant surprise. And you should help only where is does not harm or bother you. Some one said “doing good to others is a luxury”.

  66. cosmicgorilla*

    For OP1, I like the idea of having your team looping you in as soon as you get the request. You could then go to/email your CEO (with your boss’ approval) and say hey, I understand you want this project to take priority. We’ll get that, but understand that xyz will have to take a back seat. That needs to come from you and not from your underlings, who may not be comfortable doing that. Ideally, you’d get the CEO coming to you directly with these re-prioritizations and would train your staff to refer any requests to you, but I could also see them having discomfort with doing that.

    Now, I do wonder what you are doing proactively. You say you have a list of priorities…does your CEO know this? Are you sending him regular updates that say something like here is the bulleted list of the things that we will accomplish in the next 2 weeks, here are the deliverables for the next 2 months, etc. etc.? Or however it makes sense to send the list. Maybe instead it’s Project 1 – list of deliverable dates. Project 2 – list of deliverable dates. Ask for his buy-in on this list. Hey CEO, this is how we’ve prioritized. Do you agree with this? Do you want us to adjust anything? Then when he comes back to your team and asks for something to be done on the spot, you’re better poised to say hey, did I misunderstand that Project 2 was to be prioritized over Project 3? I understand you asked Wakeem this morning to focus his energies on Project 3 this week. If that’s the new focus, we’ll absolutely hop right on that, but this does mean that Project 2’s deliver date will now be pushed out 2 weeks. And follow up in email. When he comes in next week and asks why isn’t Project 2 done, you say, hey remember last week when we had to switch to Project 3? That meant a delay in Project 2.

    You’ll probably have to keep communicating and overcommunicating calmly but matter-of-factly to have it seep through.

    1. Bob3*

      Good ideas, thanks.

      At one point, I was sending weekly status reports and estimated completion dates; I gave up after some offhand comments made clear to me they were not being read. I may have to start doing verbal reports instead.

      1. nonegiven*

        What about a big white board in a visible place with projects, dates, priority, etc. Every one could see what was being done, when, and by who.

  67. Didi*

    OP#3 – extra time off is often a perk of sales jobs, as an incentive to meet quotas. Many excellent salespeople I have worked with at technology companies have taken a few extra days off here and there on top of their vacation days when they meet their quotas early. Sometimes sales organizations hold competitions and the prize is extra time off. I wouldn’t worry about it.

  68. JJJJBBB*

    #3 The Mom needs to back off. She is being too controlling and interested in her daughter’s daily life. If she gets fired, there is not a commandment that you must support her. She can get unemployment or find part-time jobs. It seems that mom is over-managed her daughter all of her life and she need to let go and let the daughter be responsible for her own job.

    #5 Perhaps, one of the things you should mention when helping people is that it is very important to thank those who help them.

    1. Rhoda*

      It seems a bit rich that someone who admits to not having had a paid job in decades is that invested in her daughter’s work life.

      1. AnonIV*

        I quit my job decades ago in order to care for a disabled parent. In my culture, that is what women do. I am not a helicopter parent. I didn’t realize asking a question would turn into so many negative comments.

        We will not let our kids become homeless as we understand that it is very difficult for homeless people to find jobs.

  69. Spek*

    is this Equality Team really empowered, or is it just an cosmetic exercise; putting up posters, sending emails celebrating “Diversity Day” etc? I work for a company that gives a lot of lip service to “diversity”, but see a huge preponderance of white male faces when I look around, and I would be willing to bet the pay gap here is massive. Larger companies love to claim diversity is a “core value”, as long as it doesn’t cost. Look at Google.

  70. Todd*

    I’m all for equality and diversity. But if you need an equality and diversity manager for only 350 employees, you have a bigger problem. Maybe the pushback you are getting is more about people being tired of companies spending thousands of dollars and thousands of human hours to prove how woke they are. Treat employees equally, pay them equally, require the same of the employee, problem solved.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If it were that easy, the problem *would* be solved. But unconscious bias is a real thing and it requires real effort to learn about it, spot it in play, and work to counter it.

    2. A*

      My employer is slightly smaller and we have an E&D Mngr. I rolled my eyes at first, but it’s been beneficial and I’m glad they brought her on. We’ve had several workshops – some mandatory, some not – that speak to unconscious bias and other more-difficult-to-self-assess topics. It’s helped to bridge a gap that was very noticeable in our work environment between our younger college-educated employees who grew up surrounded by ‘woke-ness’, and our older employees who are otherwise self-educating themselves.

  71. A*

    Dear family of OP# 3 – I am torn between the following responses:

    1) will you adopt me? I want in on this be-financially-supported-through BA + Masters… + until you find a job…. + after you potentially botch your first job.

    2) back away from the on-hand parenting. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Unless your daughter completed their BA + MA as a minor, they are old enough to handle their own life. Including figuring out her next steps if she does lose her job. “we will have to support her…” This is not inherently true. No outside force is inflicting this on you, you are choosing to hold yourself responsible for another grown adult’s finances as if she was still a dependent. At a certain point I’d urge you to re-assess, it is most likely not a coincidence that your daughter has continuously made use of her safety net. If it’s always there, and long past the point that it exists for most people, it makes sense that she’d potentially be held back by it.

    1. Ele4phant*


      My parents by no means ignored me, but when I was 23 and freshly laid off from my first job in 2009, when there were no other jobs to be had, I figured it out. I took unemployment, I worked menial jobs to fill the gap. I went back to school, and took on loans myself. Most of my peer group were in the same boat.

      My parents definitely floated me occasional “surprise” deposits in my checking account, and I so so appreciated it, and I’m sure if I’d asked for more, they would’ve done what they could’ve to help. But, its not a forgone conclusion that an adult woman with a work history is going to suddenly be on the street if she loses her job.

      If she ever does lose her job, give her the space to figure it out. If she truly is looking at being homeless, you definitely can consider doing more. But your expectation should be you raised a competent adult that is going to be capable of figuring it out themselves, and leave them to it before you rush in there to help.

  72. ClashRunner*

    OP #2: Yikes. If that were going on in my company and HR/management put a stop to it PDQ, I’d be looking for a new job. Vandalizing information about equity isn’t sharing a dissenting opinion, it’s signaling to the other people in the office that they’re not valued as people or colleagues.

  73. halfwolf*

    fully agree with alison’s advice for #2 here. “don’t feed the trolls” only applies to groups whose membership you don’t have any meaningful control over, like a forum or a comments section. in this case, if “feeding the trolls” provokes more vandalism, it’s actually beneficial in that you now have the valuable information that someone (or a group of people) who works for you believes that diversity isn’t important or meaningful.

  74. Ralph Wiggum*

    OP #2

    This needs to be addressed definitively and swiftly, but I’m concerned that using the terms “vandalism” and “hostile” to describe the actions may just put people on the defensive. I’d instead opt for a message of “These posters are important. Don’t modify or take them down. We take this seriously.”

    I work at a company where official messages sometimes get riffed on in joking (and innocuous) ways. For example, the notice asking refrigerator contents to be labeled with an owner and date has been modified to include “flavor”, “color”, etc. If I or a coworker overstepped on something like this, I would definitely like it to be addressed, but calling it vandalism would seem to call out a bunch of common non-sexist behavior. I think that would distract from the important issue here.

    1. Quill*

      On the other hand, not using those terms is likely to downplay the severity to the level of a humorous sign addition.

  75. Enginear*

    OP #3 sounds like my Dad. (I come from a very strict family) He thinks I take way too many vacations and that I should just stick to putting my head down and working. But what else am I supposed to do when I have 5 weeks of vacation to use. I for sure ain’t sitting my butt home!

  76. A*

    OP 5, I’m wondering if people are confusing ‘thank you email etiquette’ in internal communications, with situations like what you describe. To me it seems pretty obvious that if you are asking for a favor, you should thank them – but in internal communications this isn’t always the case. I’ve been told on numerous occasions that doing so in internal communications is less than desirable, and at worse a time sink/annoyance. Now I’m much more cautious about sending thank you responses unless there are additional points to contribute.

  77. c56*

    Apart from the fact that it’s none of their business, LW3’s daughter took what probably amounts to 10 working days off in a calendar year, and that should be universally considered totally reasonable and standard.

  78. My Brain Is Exploding*

    I think some people are being a bit hard on OP3. It doesn’t sounds like she’s meddling – she came here to ask advice about working norms. If she had the same intro but was asking about something else – like her daughter was sending out applications with That Trendy Thing that career offices tell you to do that Alison hates, and wondering if that was the norm today – most people would be saying yep, good catch, mom, say something.

    1. Jamie*

      That’s what I think. She reached out for a reality check rather than cling to her own ideas of business norms. I think that’s great.

      1. Ele4phant*

        I mean, I do think it’s also reasonable to check her on the assumption that she will “need” to support her daughter if/when she were to lose her job.

        Yes yes yes, sometimes it’s not easy/dang near impossible to keep your head above water if you lose your job.

        BUT, I think it’s reasonable to *start* with the assumption that if your adult child loses their job, they will figure it out one way or the other. Be willing, if necessary, to help if and when they need it. But start from the expectation that you won’t be rushing in there to help.

    2. Observer*

      I think that there are two reasons why people are being hard on OP3. Firstly, the assumption that the only option for them if daughter loses her job is for them to support her.

      Worse is that the OP is saying “My daughter says that she’s doing well at her job. But I – with experience that is irrelevant and decades out of date, and sure that she’s wrong. How can I tell if she’s REALLY wrong?”

      Sure, it’s good they wrote in, but they need a really clear reality check here.

  79. Luna*

    #4 – “Especially as a woman, I worry whether I should I go into an interview sans makeup if I’m not healed yet.”
    I am a woman that doesn’t wear any makeup, period. Not even for interviews. Wearing makeup makes my eyes tired. I’m not gonna pretty myself up for a job interview that will mean I am faking who I am. Just say that, yes, you have an eczema, but it’s fine. It’s not contagious or anything worrying.

  80. tangerineRose*

    I would think that most adult human beings should know that vandalism isn’t “dissenting opinion”. Didn’t they have parents, go to school, etc.?

  81. Andre*

    Wow, #3 makes me so glad I live in the UK. Three days off in 6 months (is which some was spent working remotely) and OP considers that “too much” time off?! I’ll gladly take my 27 annual paid vacation days, thank you!

  82. BigRedGum*

    Ohhhh number 3. Jobs that the “younger generation” (which I am part of) tend to gravitate towards are the jobs that don’t hold us back from regular life. I get to work from home as much as I like (or not), I have a ton of vacation and sick time, and I use it. Let your daughter do the same. Plus, it’s her job.

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