© Reuters. The author Lublin poses in an undated photo
By Chris Taylor NEW YORK (Reuters) – As any working parent will tell you, life is a juggling act. It‘s about balancing competing responsibilities of work, home and family, without it all falling apart. Now, the pandemic has made this juggling act much more complicated. But it’s not impossible, says Joann Lublin. The Wall Street Journal career columnist just published a book, “Power Moms: How Executive Mothers Navigate Work and Life.” Reuters sat down with Lublin to talk about how working moms (and dads) can get through this challenging moment in history in one piece. Q: We need to talk about what is happening with women’s employment right now. What is your opinion? A: The pandemic has had a very severe effect on working women. Some people call it a “loan from her”, but I see it more as a “loan from mom”. Most of the job loss has fallen on the shoulders of working mothers. Women impose a heavy burden on themselves, and the responsibility remains theirs for the care of children and the home. Q: How will these employment trends play out? A: If there is any good news to come out of this horrible experience, it is that it has become a great experiment for working from home. Before, many people thought it was unheard of or impossible. But there is a lot of data to suggest that this really works. We need to continue this experiment even when offices reopen and not penalize parents who work from home. Q: How did you approach this idea of watching “Power Moms”? A: The inspiration came from writing my first book on female business executives, called “Earning It.” I discovered that many of these high-level CEOs had children. It made me wonder, compared to the current wave of younger women in executive positions, what has changed over the years, what is better, and what has stayed the same? So I interviewed 86 executive moms, evenly split between Boomers and younger generations like Gen X and Millennials. I even interviewed the daughters of the Boomers to find out what it was like to grow up with a Power Mom. Q: What has changed? A: Employers now understand that they have to have family-friendly practices if they want to attract the best and the brightest. That was not the case for the Boomer generation, because working mothers were not seen as being committed to their careers. Another change is that Generation X moms tend to have very involved spouses, men who “get it” and are committed to their wives’ careers and willing to be fathers. A third change is improvements in technology, which have now made it possible to work from home. Q: How can employers help working parents? A: The workplace should be welcoming to working moms and dads. Commitment from the top is critical to recognizing parenthood as an important part of your employees’ lives. They should offer maximum flexibility and paid family leave, and adopt other benefits such as reimbursement for child care. But there must be a role model at the top, otherwise parents will not take advantage of these policies. Q: Parents are so exhausted right now with competing responsibilities. What do you tell them about how to get through this period? A: Let yourself go. Forgive yourself Accept the fact that things are not always going to work out. Being imperfect is fine. And make sure you are connected with people who are in a similar boat – in the old days there was no social media, but now you can find many like-minded people who are going through the same thing, and it can help you get through the day. Q: What do you want the Power Moms to take away from this book? A: Three important lessons: choose your life partner wisely, especially if you want to have children. Second, choose your employer wisely – if it’s not a family-friendly workplace, vote with your feet. Third, choose your mentors wisely, people who advise and guide you at key moments in your career. Power Moms need sponsors too – someone who is willing to risk their own political capital and risk their reputation by vouching for you and speaking up for you. You need those defenders in your corner.