The Prelude to my Working Moms Mission
I was sitting in a meeting one day – not just another typical job-related meeting – but a monthly women’s leadership team meeting.
You see – I joined this particular employee interest group in 2014, and immediately felt the causes I could support via a women’s network was exactly the type of work that I was meant to do.
I brought up the idea of flexible careers at our company.
A few women in the room snickered – and said, “ha – at this company? Good luck with that.”
Our company culture was viewed as inflexible, male-dominated and very difficult for many women to feel like they experienced anything close to a true work/life/family balance.
As a follow-up comment I said, “Well, I’m making it my mission to figure out this whole flexible career debate. I’ll either succeed, or I’ll fail, but at least I won’t wonder what could have been done (at least in this company.)
I went on to talk to several more women in the company and get their stories about inflexible work environments, and stagnant career development for family-oriented employees.
Once working mom told me, “You can’t get anywhere around here unless you’re willing to put in 12-hour days while getting paid on a salary of 8-hour days.”
She went on to say that she made an internal rule for herself – that she would stop whatever she was working on at 5pm, no matter what, turn her computer off, and go home to her family.
“Does that hurt my career progression at this company?” she said, “Probably. But my family is important to me.”
I was taken aback by how many stories I was hearing from women that made it seem as if they were being punished for having a career and family and feeling that both were important.
And, despite our company having “flexible work” policies on the surface, were they really following those standards?
I was beginning to think the answer was no.
My suspicions proved correct when I had another conversation with a counterpart of mine as I mentioned “working from home” occasionally.
She laughed and said, “I have never once worked from home in my 8+ years at this company. My manager never even told me that was an option.”
Working Moms Need More Support to Grow their Careers
With all of the accounts of continued inflexibility, hindered career growth and lack of opportunities for working moms, my mind started reeling.
What if I could be the working mom’s advocate? What if I could push for their employers to be more flexible?
In my own role, I have essentially questioned every policy, every road block and excuse as to why I’m not receiving career opportunities.
Once I was told, “Well, the top performers have been seen staying in the office until 7:30pm and come in on the weekends to do extra work.”
If that was the standard for measuring success, then I was sunk.
I have a family, a young daughter – I’m not sacrificing my evenings and weekends. If you are a working parent you know that time spent after work and on weekends is already limited, so to limit it even more in order to get ahead or get a promotion – that is a preposterous suggestion, and one that I was not going to entertain.
Anyone that knows a working mom also knows that she is often one of the best performers at work and at home. She has this magical capability of taking all the tasks presented to her and managing her time effectively – and usually can complete her work in her 8-hour work day because she knows she’s on a schedule, and completing her work means getting home on time to spend time with her family.
So, you can imagine my puzzlement at the company’s definition of a top performer.
This definition of success was not sitting well with me.
Workplace Flexibility Should be the Norm – Not the Exception
The sad part is – this attitude exists across many industries and companies.
We’ve undoubtedly come a long way with women’s rights in this country, but I often question how much of a façade this is with certain companies.
“Come work for us! We have workplace flexibility!” they say. Only to discover a few years in, after living life, and having children, that those claims only go so far “at the discretion of the supervisor and business needs.”
In my 7+ tenure in the corporate world I’ve been so disillusioned and so heartbroken for the working moms who don’t have a flexible supervisor, for those who could really just use 1-2 work from home days per week to make their lives a little easier, and those who quit altogether because the company does not give them a reason to stay.
Advocating for Working Moms
Along the way I’ve discovered that I’m my best advocate.
I want to be your advocate, too.
I’ve put together this resource to help fellow working moms find more flexibility in their careers.
A woman’s career should not have to be stalled, or end altogether, just because she starts a family.
In my search for answers, I’ve stumbled across various resources that have helped me discover there is an alternative to growing your career while raising your family.
I’ve also found that you have to read between the lines and be very cautious in what employers are actually advertising.
Sadly, I’ve been presented with bait and switch opportunities.
I’ve gotten my hopes up, just to have them crushed.
I’ve been told countless times, “You need to prove your worth first before we allow you to have this opportunity.”
My “Why” is to Help Working Moms Balance Career and Family While Finding More Flexible Solutions to Long-Term Career Growth (without having to quit the workforce or be forced into lower paying jobs)
In my search for answers in my own career, I’ve discovered that my purpose is actually to help you – The Working Mom – balancing career and family, and with a desire to do more, and to have more meaningful experiences, and to not have to sacrifice your family time for your career goals – To help you navigate your path toward workplace flexibility.
The truth is – There is no good reason most employers can deny workplace flexibility. With the exception of a few careers – most every industry has the capability of creating flexible, family friendly jobs.
Most would say that it might hurt their bottom line –
But I would argue that being portrayed as a flexible, family-friendly employer, would ultimately help their bottom line. The more employees feel respected, heard and their needs acknowledged, the more loyal they will be to an employer. And more loyalty = less turnover. Less turnover = less costs for onboarding new employees, increased productivity, and increased morale.
You can see where I’m going with this.
It is not only good for you to find flexible employers, but it makes perfect business sense for employers to find you.
Changing the Perception of Workplace Flexibility
My goal is to flip the perception that flexibility = less work.
In most cases flexibility = increased productivity.
Why? Because when someone feels happy in how their time is spent, and has the flexibility to create their own schedule and include things they love doing as a part of their regular schedule – their creativity soars.
What business would not want to tap into that creativity?
In fact, there are companies out there now conducting actual research on this subject. It is not just an opinion that flexible work is the way of the future. Werk.co actually has a study, “The Future is Flexibility,” that shows there is a significant gap between the supply and demand of workplace flexibility. The same company offers free listings of flexible and family-friendly careers.
I can say that a lot of employers have missed out on my creativity and passion. I’m now pouring it into discovering a meaningful life at the intersection of my career and my family. This doesn’t have to look traditional in the sense that my career path will develop within a corporation. It may, or it may not. But my goal is to prove that no matter the career type, no matter the company type, or if you are an entrepreneur – you can find flexible work and still create a career you love.
Because, let’s face it – these two central areas of career and family do not exist in a vacuum separate from one another.
They are very much interlaced. Why not work on supporting both by creating more flexible and sustaining, creative careers that we can be proud of?
Now, every time I hear a snicker, or “that’s impossible,” or “that’ll never happen at this company,” I simply say, “Why not?”
Most people will not have an answer for me.
Anything is possible if you fight for it.
And when your fight needs to be taken to a new level, you follow your instinct and see where it takes you.
I’ve never been one to sit back and give up when I’m told, “That’s just the way it is.”
Bringing the Intersection of Career + Family and the Struggles, Successes and Challenges that Working Moms Face
That is why along the way of creating my blog and finding my voice, I’ve also stumbled across my “why.”
I have discovered that I’m meant to help other working moms find their flexible dream jobs, while providing them with the mindset and knowledge to propel forward in their careers while raising a family.
I want you, the working mom, to feel good about what you accomplish each day. I want you to know that you can live your best life and crush your goals.
I am bringing you the intersection of career and family and all of the struggles, successes, and challenges that working moms face.
In the coming weeks you can expect to see content that supports and helps working moms thrive in their careers.
Keep fighting the good fight. I promise you – eventually it will pay off.
Until Next Time,