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Parenting Agency Culture Marketing

As a professional upgrade, motherhood is severely under-rated


By Rebecca Coleman, President and CEO

April 10, 2024 | 5 min read

Rebecca Coleman is a CEO and a mom. These roles aren’t as distinct as they’ve had you think. Here’s why.

Motherhood explaining to her child

The toughest business negotiation I ever experienced was over a pretzel rod – specifically, which pretzel rod in the bag was the exact right one to prevent a level 10 toddler meltdown in the middle of a very busy supermarket. You may think I’m joking, but I’m not. It happened more than ten years ago, and to this day, it’s the negotiation I’m most proud of. Because it was the hardest. The expression, ‘taking candy from a baby’ - is wrong.

But also because it was an “ah ha” moment for me, realizing that practicing this level of patience and skill would only make me a better manager and a more shrewd client mediary.

While our advertising and marketing industry proudly flaunts a predominantly female workforce, a switch occurs as we climb the career ladder. The gender balance takes a turn in the C-suite, and to this day, it’s constrained by outdated perspectives. Some still cling to the notion that the scarcity of women at the top results from the pause many take for motherhood. It’s high time we debunk this myth – motherhood isn’t a pause button on skill acquisition; it’s an ongoing journey of growth and learning.

Motherhood instills an innate sense of approachability and empathy, evolving into a more emotional and nuanced form as children enter their teen years. Guiding them through decisions, imparting wisdom, fostering smart thinking, and nurturing resilience are all pivotal parts of the journey. These parenting skills seamlessly translate into the professional arena, facilitating effective management, understanding individual motivations, and cultivating empathetic leadership.

Being a mom also effortlessly bridges the generational gap, not only aiding in connecting with our kids but also adding credibility in understanding current events and issues, especially online. In the world of advertising and, more specifically, social media, who better to decipher the secret language of moms than moms themselves? After all, they practically invented the art of decision-making.

Do men learn some of these skills in parenting too? You betcha. But, alas, they aren’t dinged in the C-suite for “taking a break” from working. They seamlessly integrate these skills into the workforce and are praised for their cute photos of their kids on their desks.

Organizations often overlook motherhood as a formative skill-building journey, leading to a reluctance among mothers to confidently showcase these acquired skills. Companies can proactively support mothers through tangible actions, such as providing freelance or internship opportunities, recognizing the skills developed during resume gaps, and actively contributing to the success of stay-at-home moms seeking to reenter the workforce.

Given that parents inherently possess problem-solving abilities, their insights offer valuable solutions for the challenges presented by the ever-evolving workforce. Involving managers in decision-making processes ensures solid support for implementing changes. Embracing an all-encompassing perspective on parenting and work represents the way forward, acknowledging that the daily distractions do not diminish an individual’s capacity to excel in their professional roles.

While the pandemic was challenging for many working parents, there are some unexpected positive shifts that have come with remote or hybrid work environments. It has allowed for a more balanced integration of professional and family life, blurring the rigid lines between work and family time offering opportunities for a more flexible and holistic approach to both. Albeit, sometimes this results in being “always on.”

I still scratch my head when people ask me how I “do it all” (the answer is, I don’t.) Instead of continuing to ask working moms that, how about we ask, “what skills did you learn as a mom that you’re able to use at work?” The key lies in us as managers recognizing that motherhood is relevant work experience. And, for those of us who have made our way into the C-suite to proudly highlight the experience of motherhood on our resumes and LinkedIn pages.

The bottom line? As we navigate this professional journey, let’s not forget: Motherhood should not be the clandestine career killer; it’s the ultimate skill upgrade, and it’s time to bring it into the limelight.

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