While Katharine Zaleski was a single woman without kids, she sort of looked down on moms who proudly displayed their family photos on their desks and is apologizing to all the mothers she has worked with in the past.
Mothers don’t have it easy. They are mostly the caregivers for their children and in many cases they also have to keep working to support the family. At many companies, they are also perceived as unreliable because of their obligations towards their kids, who get sick or have to stay home when schools are closed.
In a revealing article published on Fortune magazine, PowerToFly President Katharine Zaleski admits, “I didn’t realize how horrible I’d been – until I had a child of my own.”
This particular female executive recalled one instance about five years ago, in which she visited Time.com editing manager who was pitching a proposal to her. After walking in the cozy office space, she noticed all the family photos proudly displayed on the desk and she made a decision based on that.
Zaleski confesses that while she stayed for the meeting and listened to the ideas being pitched, she walked out of the mom’s office thinking this particular editor was “too much of a mom” for this business endeavor.
The exec candidly and shockingly goes down, what she now calls “a long list of infractions,” towards working mothers.
“I secretly rolled my eyes at a mother who couldn’t make it to last minute drinks with me and my team. I questioned her ‘commitment’ even though she arrived two hours earlier to work than me and my hungover colleagues the next day.
“I didn’t disagree when another female editor said we should hurry up and fire another woman before she ‘got pregnant.’
“I sat in a job interview where a male boss grilled a mother of three and asked her, ‘How in the world are you going to be able to commit to this job and all your kids at the same time?’ I didn’t give her any visual encouragement when the mother – who was a top cable news producer at the time – looked at him and said, ‘Believe it or not, I like being away from my kids during the workday…just like you.’
“I scheduled last minute meetings at 4:30 p.m. all of the time. It didn’t dawn on me that parents might need to pick up their kids at daycare. I was obsessed with the idea of showing my commitment to the job by staying in the office ‘late’ even though I wouldn’t start working until 10:30 a.m. while parents would come in at 8:30 a.m.”
These preconceptions changed when Zaleski had her own baby. “For mothers in the workplace, it’s death by a thousand cuts – and sometimes it’s other women holding the knives. I didn’t realize this – or how horrible I’d been – until five years later, when I gave birth to a daughter of my own,” the female executive confessed.
As shocking as Zaleski’s revelations are, she has changed her views on working mothers completely and now subscribes to the motto, “if you want something done then ask a busy person to do it.” That’s precisely why she now prefers working with mothers, who are actually known for being reliable and dedicated.
Zaleski recognizes now more than ever that with the explosion of the internet, businesses have several tools to offer flexibility to working mothers and uses all those to her advantage. Now, this previously misguided female executive is using her skills to empower women all over the world through her own company, PowerToFly.
[Image via Shutterstock]