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How to recover from getting blitzed at a business dinner Add to ...

Dear Corporate Governess

I’ve seen a couple of women who work for me slink into the office with kids in tow. I don’t want to sound heartless, but I can’t let the office turn into a daycare. How do I handle this?
—Robert B., Toronto

Dear Robert

As someone who’s held at least one meeting while my daughter coloured under the table, I know that sick days happen, and even the best child-care arrangements can fall through. Those slinking moms can’t just leave their kids at home alone, and maybe they’ve run out of personal or sick days. As for the dad, well, let’s just assume he had an important meeting.

Which brings up a basic inequality: Child care is still the primary responsibility of women—even though 60% of Canadian women work outside the home. If we’re ever going to be equals in the workplace, child care can’t continue to be a barrier to women in the prime of their careers. So consider this your chance to step up as an advocate for both moms and dads at your company.

There’s a lot you can do to help. Guarantee employees coveted daycare slots close to work by partnering with a child-care provider like Kids & Co. Or offer a few days’ worth of in-home emergency care (for both kids and elders) as a perk. Another simple solution: Make it easy for frazzled parents to work from home if they’re in a pinch. The benefit: Your employees will be eternally grateful and better able to focus on the job—no slinking necessary. 


Dear Corporate Governess

I blew it at a business dinner by drinking one (or a few) too many glasses of wine. The worst part: My boss was there. How do I redeem myself?
—Cooper T., Vancouver

Dear Cooper

Start with a sincere apology—one that takes responsibility for your behaviour without making excuses: “I’m sorry for drinking too much the other night—it won’t happen again.” (Sure, there might have been other factors involved, from the stress of dining with the boss to the temptation of sampling some fine burgundies, but blaming anyone but yourself makes you look weak, like Trump after the first debate.) Just about everyone has made a gaffe like this—likely even your boss. But she needs to know she can trust you to be professional at all times.

The safe rule for business events is one glass of wine, max. But I wouldn’t mess with your already wine-soaked reputation by trying to prove you can drink responsibly. Stick to sparkling water at the next few company events, especially if you’re lucky enough to get another dinner invitation.

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