“Women do want to have it all. I think women can do everything, but not all at the same time.” – Madeline Albright
So what happened to Marissa Mayer? She was the first CEO to be hired by a major company (Yahoo) while pregnant, who only took 2 weeks of maternity leave and said it was “easy” (it helps to have a built-in nursery next to her office), and now within a year of taking over the company, she has banned telecommuting as an option for employees.
Her decision directly affects working moms who need flexibility in their schedules to successfully handle both their fulltime careers – family and work. As one of the foremost “working moms” in the nation with the power to lead the way for other women, Marissa Mayer has instead let working mothers down by alluding to telecommuting as giving employees time to “goof off.”
Excuse me, but I don’t know any working moms who are goof offs, including me. I telecommute two days a week and work at the office three. Yes, I get to see more of my children those days I’m at home, but I also deliver the results with my work responsibilities – and that should be the measuring stick for any business.
Marissa Mayer rose to the top with plenty of help. And so did Sheryl Sandberg (CEO, Facebook). And so do most men who make it in the business world. The fact is, there is more opportunity today than ever before for women to step into the place of power and use it to remake the world, including transforming stone-age work policies that do not fit the facts of this new and changing world. Working women need to be successful in both their fulltime jobs of career and family.
Five Strategies for Success
1. Learn the art of negotiation. Know what you want and how to ask for it – this includes an equal 50/50 partner split in household and kiddie care workloads. For more on successful negotiating techniques, go to Sheryl Sandberg’s leanin.org.
2. Own your talents – you are valuable. The very things that make us good moms make us good workers outside the home. Women as employees are more loyal, make better managers (organizing a household is no small task) and have a vested interested in keeping their jobs, since they are often the major breadwinners of the family, if not the single head of household. Companies with more women on their board of directors make more money. Our skill sets are valuable and we need to begin to see them as such.
3. Be as ambitious as your dreams. Give yourself permission to succeed. Whether it’s ongoing education, or a good job that gives you the family/work balance you need, think about what you really want, then go for it. Strategize with short and long-term goals. It’s true a woman’s life comes in segments, and what’s right for us when our babies are little will change once our children reach school-age. Take this into account and be patient – but never give up your dreams. Make small steps wherever you can. Be realistic and don’t play the guilt game.
4. Be a Champion. Every successful woman or man has had a champion in their corner — someone who put in a good word at the right time and paved the way to promotion opportunities. Women lack this kind of support compared to men, by more than an 80%. This has to change. Women in power have to step up and be a champion for other women.
5. Leave work on time. I’m a good negotiator, but there is one thing I will not negotiate on: Family comes first. Parents are building a better future through raising the next generation. This is no small task, but it’s hands down the greatest job in the world.