Here’s a hot topic that I know will resonate with both CEOs and Upside consultants. I recently read an article in the Washington Post by Amy Nelson, founder of The Riveter, a venture-backed, female-forward platform for entrepreneurs and freelancers, discussing the “Maternal Wall.” For decades we've debated about the Glass Ceiling, however we rarely hear about the Maternal Wall: the barrier, she states, that is built by discrimination against working mothers.
The concept of the Maternal Wall hits close to home in my own working mother journey, and, I would argue, for the CEO that employed me. Before I had children, I earned my chops in Manhattan working 60-hour weeks, building my career by helping my CEO grow his company into the $2.4 billion firm it is today.
When I became a mother, I knew I wanted to continue working. I wanted to enlist excellent childcare to help but be very involved in day-to-day life at home. I still possessed the same valuable talent and skills as before I had children, not to mention a proven track record. That, I realized, was what my CEO, the company, and the workforce in general stood to lose if I dropped out full-time.
So I approached him about working flexibly as a consultant. I pushed aside my own Maternal Wall of self-doubt, as well as the doubt of some well-meaning colleagues and friends, to not only ask for this new position, but also have the confidence to assert myself and explain why this arrangement would also benefit him and his company.
What resulted was almost a decade of a mutually beneficial working relationship whereby I received the flexibility I needed as a working mother and the company received a scalable Director-level executive that could flex with its various business cycles. As a working mother I became super efficient and wasted no time during my working hours. In fact, I can easily say that I was the most productive I had ever been!
I credit my CEO for taking a risk, tearing down that Maternal Wall and pushing back on stereotypes. In turn he benefited immensely. He gained a high-level professional that would have gone elsewhere if not provided flexibility, paid me only for the time he needed me, and converted my position from a fixed cost into a variable cost, improving his bottom line.
On a side note, what stood out to us the most about this article were all of the judgmental and visceral comments from readers that followed. This just shows that we certainly still have a LOT of work to do!
You can read the entire article here.
Tell us your thoughts on the Maternal Wall below!