Recently, I attended a virtual Chairman Mom dinner hosted by Janelle Metzger of Aneuvia Asset Management. The topic was her jaw-dropping study about the extraordinary burden this economic shutdown is putting on corporate working moms. Those surveyed are likely the most privileged group of working moms, those working in large corporations with plenty of support, higher pay, and comparatively luxurious benefits. To wit: 77% of these women felt they had work-life balance nailed before this crisis. These were the women who successfully had it all.
Fast forward to a pandemic, and just 33% of them feel that way, as just 8% of partners have stepped up to shoulder the load of homeschooling kids. Many of that 33% who still feel like they can make it have retained their in-home nannies. And 62% of corporate mothers are shouldering the entire additional domestic load themselves.
At this Zoom meet up—not so much a “happy hour” as a sanity-saving, lock yourself in a room without kids, bosses, employees or spouses with a glass of wine or kombucha hour—we got into a dreamy conversation about what could change permanently as a result of this time that could help working moms going forward.
Could male bosses trying to work from home with kids suddenly appreciate what working moms go through?
Could seeing everyone’s home chaos on display be a great “hey, we’re all human!” equalizer?
All those companies that refused to let people work from home, or refused to run a weekly meeting at 9:30am instead of 8am suddenly have had to make it work in these times. Will they continue to be more flexible moving forward because they’ve learned that they can?
The conversation wound itself to me, and I felt split in half. My natural optimist wanted to say, “Yes this can all change!” After all, my co-founder Paul Carr has spent the last three years, shoulder-to-shoulder with me and our all-female dev team trying to create a better world for working women. My co-parent has hugely stepped up during this crisis, taking on a full 50% of the homeschooling load. And while Chairman Mom was backed by more than a dozen female angels and VCs at seed, it’s been the four male investors who have kept on backing us over the last few years when things have gotten challenging, investing far more than their pro-rata because they believed in us. Believed in me. #NotAllMen, right?
But the 44-year-old me who has been let down again and again by the aggregate macro-patriarchy, the one who knows that those in power never give up power willingly, the one who has spent years showing Silicon Valley kingmakers the data of how much more money we’d all make if women and people of color had true inclusion only to have a “data-driven industry” shrug in response…she just rolled her eyes. “Even you can’t be that naive…” she told the other me.
I was like those old Frosted Mini-Wheat commercials where the kid in you loves the frosting and the grownup in you likes the wheat. My kid was clinging to hope, because wow, things are pretty bleak right now if we don’t even have hope. My grown up was like, “Girl, please.” She is just not convinced the world will voluntarily ever make things better for women, especially working mothers.
“But what if we told them it would make them richer and more powerful to support us?” the naive kid in me asked.
So let me try. Let me lay out the optimist case anyway, because I know a lot of investors and managers and people with a lot of power read this newsletter and even more follow me on social media.
Let me make a data-based case for you on why working mothers—or any working parents stepping up right now—should be the last people you layoff, the last people you write off, the last people you triage out of your venture capital portfolio.[Read the rest of this piece in my weekly LinkedIn column…]
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- How to break the pandemic daily rut (days blending together)?
- Anyone else thinking of moving based on what’s come up for you during the COVID crisis?