This is just the first of a series of posts on “that elephant in the conference room” that doesn’t get talked about. And it’s still a struggle because the “guys” who lead companies still believe that we have the money so we hire rather than outsource and engage the talent we need to do our best.
What you are about to read is from a Fortune magazine online commentary by “a working mother” written last year. It’s still not only relevant, but also a telling vicarious experience that helps you get your head around engaging professionals who are really good and accountable at the same time. Regardless where they do the work.
Look and learn. Curated.
“While I was on maternity leave from NowThis News (a startup funded by members of The Huffington Post team), still wrestling with these thoughts, I was approached by my now co-founder, Milena Berry. She told me she had an idea to launch a company that would match women in technical positions they could do from home. I decided to quit my job and leave journalism, realizing this startup had enormous potential for the one billion women entering the workforce over the next ten years.
If the developer placements worked, then other fields might follow. By enabling women to work from home, women could be valued for their productivity and not time spent sitting in an office or at a bar bonding afterwards. Mothers could have a third option that would allow them to either remain in the workforce or be a part of it even from areas with few job options.
All the tools exist for remote work—Slack, Jira, Skype, Trello, Google Docs. Research shows remote workers can be more productive. Furthermore, millennials—with or without kids—want that flexibility, a Harvard study found.
With the help of an awesome team that’s 50% moms from around the world, Milena and I are building PowerToFly around our lives as mothers. We’ve processed over $1 million in paychecks for women who work from home across five continents and that number is growing fast. The stories we hear are thrilling.
Before we found Nedda, our CTO, she was commuting to London from her home in Bulgaria every week. Nedda’s daughter would hide in her suitcase on Sunday nights in an attempt to be with her mother during the week. Now she gets picked up from kindergarten by her mom every day. Nedda traded a very expensive ten-hour weekly commute (not including time on the London tube) for a thirty-minute walk with her child each afternoon.
I wish I had known five years ago, as a young, childless manager, that mothers are the people you need on your team. There’s a saying that “if you want something done then ask a busy person to do it.” That’s exactly why I like working with mothers now.
Moms tell me when a project can be done and they give me very advanced notice when they have to take time off work. If they work from home, it doesn’t matter if a kid gets sick. Yes, they might not be able to Skype with me as often through that day, but they can still be productive because they can work from home while keeping an eye on their child. (And, like me, many have childcare.
There’s no way you can work from home without support, usually from another woman.) Moms work hard to meet deadlines because they have a powerful motivation—they want to be sure they can make dinner, pick a child up from school, and yes, get to the gym for themselves.
But, I know there are still a lot of people like my 28-year-old self—they undervalue mothers’ contributions because they count hours logged in the office and not actual work. Most mothers lose if that’s the barometer for productivity.
It’s time to break that cycle, and it starts with the people doing the hiring. The way I acted in my twenties had a lot to do with denial. If I didn’t embrace or recognize the mothers on my team, then I didn’t have to think about what my future would be like. I see the same behavior in young women I talk to who are in charge of hiring, especially in the tech space. They are hardliners – and passionate lecturers – about women being in the office so they can be part of the company’s “culture.”
Millennials or Boomers. It makes no difference. Get wise and engage.
When you want to motivate, persuade, or be remembered, start with a story of human struggle and eventual triumph. It will capture people’s hearts – by first attracting their brains.
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