I'm a single mom and my colleagues sometime ask me to join them for dinner on a weekend with their wives. I have a son that I don't get to spend much time with during the week and I cherish our time on the weekends. I also don't have a significant other to join me. I feel like by not going to these dinners, I am missing out on bonding experience and possible promotions in the future. Am I hurting my career by not attending these dinners?
In the workplace it is customary for some colleagues to spend time together during non working hours but in my experience that takes place with the younger, single or married with no children crowds. I too have felt left out but have never felt that my career was in jeopardy if I did not attend. Most managers who are responsible for their departments will schedule after work get-togethers with enough advance notice for you to be able to attend and you will know when it is important to be there, for you to be visible and for you to be bonding with your colleagues. This is the difference between bonding (as in friendships) and doing the right thing professionally for your career.
If you don’t feel comfortable going alone and have a child at home then don’t go - if you want to bond with others at the office then I would suggest you picking a date that is good for you (since you have the limitations on your schedule) and approaching the colleagues you want to spend time with to see if they are available during your free time.
Susan Green is a Senior Managing Director with a bulge bracket investment bank. Ms. Green has had a successful career in the financial services industry for more than 25 years. She lives in the New York tri-state area and has two wonderful children.