Friday, June 30, 2023

Changing the Narrative for Working Moms

I am so in awe of this new generation of working mothers who demand to be seen and taken seriously. I admire how candid they are about raising children while working. One influencer on LinkedIn posted that she will over-share what her life is like as a working parent. "TMI is my default until the default becomes the norm." I love that. I love that she refuses to shrink to make others comfortable.

With my kids when they were babies, 18 years ago.

I know I am incredibly lucky to have worked for a company that was very flexible and made it easy for me have and raise two children, while working full time. But that doesn't mean I felt okay discussing the challenges of being a working mom, especially when I became a single working mother. 

In fact, I even stepped back two years after the divorce to stay home and work contract, until I could work through my son's ADHD diagnosis. Coincidentally my elderly father had to come live with me during that same time. 

Recently I listened to an older woman speak about her career experience and it was very inspiring for all of us to hear her stories and experiences.

However, when it came time for the questions from the audience someone asked about being an older woman who stepped back when her children were young and if it was possible to get back onto the same career path. 

I could relate to this question, because although I have done very well in my career and I think I'm well respected as an experienced employee, I don't see myself leading projects and initiatives again, partly because I took that time away when my kids were younger. 

The speaker's response surprised me. She said that women didn't need to step back because they should ask more from their spouses. I didn't have a spouse when my children were young so where did I fit in? What about single women who decide to have children on their own? What about widows? Where does that leave us? Where does that leave older women who want to return to the workforce?

My corporation has done such an excellent job, especially in the last few years, to train us on diversity and inclusion. I was certified as a "change agent" after completing all the training. Now I will be helping to lead an external working group and I'm thrilled to see that one of the three areas we are going to address is women's rights. I'm also on the team for the internal working group. I'm looking forward to those discussions and plans and I hope that this gives me an opportunity to address the needs of single working mothers.

Even though I'm not the mother of young children any more I want to help young mothers get to the comfort level of that LinkedIn influencer. I want to help change the narrative at work so women feel safe juggling both their career and their children. I want to pave the way to change attitudes so women can step away if needed, but then I want for it to be okay for them to step back in and continue on their career path, despite their age. It's going to take time, but I believe we've already made a lot of progress in recent years and we can make more.

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