I read with dismay the story of Julia Cheiffetz, who resigned from Amazon because she didn’t find a culture that supported working mothers*.
Beyond the issue of discrimination, I think alienating moms is just bad business strategy. In my experience, some of the highest performers are mothers and this is not in spite of the fact that they have kids but rather because of it.
Here’s why moms make great business associates and executives….
1. Moms reign supreme at time management.
When you have fewer hours to toil in the office it’s amazing how little time you spend, well, toiling. Many moms may not be the first ones in or the last to leave but the time that they are in the office is filled with productivity, not social media. (Unless, of course, you work in advertising so you’re constantly on social media for, ya know, research.)
2. Moms are great multi-taskers. In some strange form of Darwinism, women seem to grow extra limbs after giving birth. Moms have an innate ability to be in two places at once and do two things at once when stuck in one place. In the business world, this is a very important skill. Many projects require starting and stopping, swooping in and out at various phases. And many jobs require working on more that one project at a time. The only way to do this effectively is to be able to focus on the task — or zero in on the important part of the task — at hand without getting distracted by the other moving pieces and then pivot on a dime to the next piece when done. There’s no better training for this then trying to feed, clean, and clothe a household of kids on your way out to work every morning — or, even better, learning to delegate such tasks to your partner, hubby, nanny, or the kids themselves.
3. Moms — and women in general — are very creative. In the advertising industry and many others, to be sure, creativity is the key to successful outcomes and successful employees. This is another area where moms have an advantage. Women tend to use their right brains more because, science. And mothers have the added benefit of being able to see things from a child’s perspective, which can be a catalyst for creative breakthroughs.
4. Moms — and women in general — have tremendous empathy.Speaking of seeing things from a kid’s point of view, the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes is critical when, say, marketing shoes. Moms are simply best equipped to get in the heads of the group that controls 85% of all purchase activity. In the advertising world, these insights are pure gold and lead to more green. Empathy also comes in handy when leading teams. Managing people requires a deep understanding of each individual’s capabilities and motivations. Knowing when to push and when to hug is as much a part of business leadership as it is in childrearing.
5. Moms just get shit done. Period, end of story. And isn’t that really what most work comes down to?
The bottom line is that you should always hire (and keep) the best person for the job regardless of gender or parental status — or orientation, ethnicity, and religion for that matter — but recognize that many times the most qualified candidates will be moms. Just make sure you have an organizational culture that embraces them and allows them to do their best work. As for how to do that, I’ll save that post for another day…..
*Note: I use the expression “working mothers” contextually here. All moms work, whether or not they’re paid to do so. And raising kids is the greatest — and hardest — job of all. As for my fellow working fathers out there… much love guys but unless you’re also taking the lead role around the house and with the kiddos these 5 traits don’t necessarily apply to you.
Aaron Goldman is the CMO at 4C Insights in Chicago, IL. Previously, Mr. Goldman was on the Board of Directors for CIMA, and was the Chief Marketing Officer for Kenshoo. In 2010 he published “Everything I Know about Marketing I Learned from Google” (McGraw-Hill). Follow Aaron on Twitter.