The Good News? Workplace Attitudes Are Changing
In the same year I received my second promotion at HARMAN, going from a team of one direct report to six, I had my third child. Organized chaos is the best way to describe the last 18 months! Over the past eight years, I have been both pregnant and a mom, while balancing a career as an attorney at a large global law firm, an investment bank, and a multinational corporation. Since I had my first child, I have seen an overall improvement in the attitudes of others in the workplace toward women who choose to have children and a burgeoning career. Avoidance is the way I like to describe attitudes early on—no one seemed to want to talk about it. Nowadays, not a week goes by that someone at HARMAN doesn’t make an encouraging comment about my efforts to advance my career and raise a family well. The support and encouragement of my colleagues makes all the difference.
The more important change though has been in me. My perspective has evolved from seeing my home responsibilities as a distraction and an impediment to my success at work, to now seeing the experience of being a mother as invaluable to my success in the workplace. Being a mother has made me more efficient and focused on execution—after all, my job doesn’t stop when I leave the office. It also has taught me how to remain cool in high-pressure situations—which is pretty much dinner with my three kids every evening.
I do not believe work-life balance is 100 percent achievable; devoting yourself fully to your career and your family at the same time is impossible. For me, success in both has meant choosing to work at whatever I am doing in that moment with all my heart, whether I am negotiating a deal or cheering on my son at his baseball game. Success to me also means to trust that the work I have put in building my team at work or nurturing my relationships at home will be sufficient to keep things running well in my absence. I’m fortunate to have the privilege of working at a company where results are what matter, and so my choice to have both a career and a family has no bearing on my perceived commitment, as long as I am producing good work each and every day. I am hopeful women in the corporate environment are increasingly experiencing the same cultural shift.