Visibility in the workplace: still an essential ingredient for career success?

Document Type


Publication details

McDonald, P, Bradley, L & Brown, KA 2008, 'Visibility in the workplace: still an essential ingredient for career success?', Emerald Management Reviews, vol. 19, no. 12, pp. 2198-2215.

Peer Reviewed



Purpose- Explores the extent to which career success for men and women is dependent upon constant visibility in the workplace.

Design/methodology/approach - Looks at the link that has been established, in the literature, between constant visibility in the workplace and career success. Explores how different absences from the workplace impact on perceptions of employee commitment and loyalty and how it affects career success. Investigates, also, the differential effect of a broader range of flexible work and leave options, both gendered and non-gendered, on co-worker's and manager's perceptions. Describes the collection of data from 40 interviews with employees, ranging from entry-level administration positions to senior managers.

Findings - Highlights how near-constant visibility in the workplace was found to be important to career success; reports how absences due to flexible work arrangements and taking accrued leave were regarded, in the majority of cases, as signalling poor commitment. Reveals how part-time work was found to be particularly detrimental to long-term career success; draws attention to how child-related career breaks were strongly gendered and had differential impacts on men and women.

Research limitations/implications - Self reported perceptions; white-collar sample; public sector organization.

Originality/value - Finds further evidence that workplace absence has a detrimental effect on career advancement.

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