CEO Thinks It's Okay to Treat Moms Badly at Work -- Until She Becomes One

working mom head in handsIt's hard enough to keep the everyday mechanics of working motherhood running smoothly without added votes of discouragement, as it were, from bosses and co-workers who don't believe moms are as capable of doing a good job as their childless colleagues. So it was incredibly validating for hard-working moms everywhere when former publishing executive turned company president Katharine Zaleski recently admitted that in her pre-motherhood days, she was "horrible" to moms -- and that she's now incredibly sorry.


Zaleski, who helps to run the female-empowering company PowerToFly (which matches highly skilled women with work-from-home tech positions), wrote a piece for Fortune detailing her many pre-motherhood "infractions" against moms she worked with, from thoughtlessly scheduling late afternoon meetings to ignoring the fact that moms, while less likely to stay after hours at work, were more likely to show up early. It's great that Zaleski is brave enough to admit she was wrong (particularly publicly), and even better that she's trying to do right by working moms now. But the most important thing takeaway from her mea culpa, at least in my opinion, is the following realization: 

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.

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Well, yeah! See, that's the whole thing: Mothers aren't good employees despite the fact that they're mothers, they're good employees because they're mothers. Motherhood is like boot camp for becoming highly functional under the most stressful of circumstances, and nearly every single skill we learn as moms can't help but add to our value at the workplace.

Think about it: All the moms I know (working or not) can multitask like a boss -- because when there's a baby who needs to be fed, a toddler who just dumped out an entire box of crayons and a load of wet laundry that needs to go in the dryer, all at the same time, what other choice do we have? We're not afraid to get our hands dirty, because chances are we're already wrist-deep in dirty diapers and spit-up (and we most likely have several bottles of hand sanitizer nearby anyway). I'm kidding, sort of (but not really).

Before I had kids, I was horrible at prioritizing, easily overwhelmed by being tasked with too many things at once and about as far from organized as any one person could ever be. Three kids later? I'm still about as far from organized as any one person could ever be (some things never change), but I'm a million times better at prioritizing and even when I'm feeling overwhelmed, I do what needs to be done. Again, what choice do I have? 

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And motherhood does more than make us more efficient. Motherhood, at least ideally, makes us more sensitive and compassionate -- which in turn gives us a broader scope of understanding when it comes to the individual quirks and preferences of our employers, co-workers and clients and makes us better suited to meeting a wide variety of needs. Motherhood turns us into creative thinkers, able to troubleshoot even the most seemingly impossible of situations with little to no resources at our disposal. In short, motherhood makes us indispensable -- and the sooner the workforce at large realizes that's the case (as Zaleski belatedly did), the better off we'll be as a society. 

In what ways do you feel like motherhood makes women better employees?


Image via shutterstock


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