There are many top male executives who have been outspoken about their own beliefs about flexible work and its many benefits. But it’s undeniable that working moms are one of the biggest segments of the workforce that desperately need workplace flexibility in order to curate their careers and care for their kids, too. These five female executives have been outspoken about the need for flexible work—for working parents, for military families, for people with health issues… for everyone.
Arianna Huffington. Founder and CEO—Thrive Global
Arianna Huffington is determined not to just survive, but thrive. That’s why the founder of the Huffington Post left her news site to start Thrive Global, targeting companies to help people reduce stress and burnout. This is something that Huffington was all-too-familiar with, since an 18-hour workday led to her collapsing in her home office—and lying in a pool of blood on the floor due to a broken cheekbone and gash over her eye.
As part of Thrive, team members have entry interviews in which they share what matters most to them, both professionally and personally, so they can have a better work-life balance. Huffington also wants to change how work is done via teams so that each member has more flexibility in how and when work gets done.
Mary Barra. CEO—General Motors
Mary Barra understands that in order for work-life balance to work, it has to be something that management models for its workers. She is vocal about ending meetings early so that she can attend her daughter’s soccer game—and encourages others to do the same. “”It gives everybody permission” to acknowledge their other obligations. It’s about finding a balance that actually improves the quality of work output rather than detracting from it,” said Barra in a Fast Company article. Another important aspect is not trying to do it all (and do it all perfectly), but rather identify what is most important and focus efforts on completing key tasks only.
Susan Wojcicki. CEO—YouTube
As a mom of five, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki believes that unplugging isn’t just important—it’s essential. She and her husband have dinner with their children almost every night, and that time is spent sans technology. “We try to have the rule to not check email between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., because if you are on your phone then it’s hard to disconnect,” said Wojcicki in a Wall Street Journal interview. She credits leaving work at work for being able to come up with fresh new ideas plus helps her focus on what truly needs to get done.
Indra Nooyi. CEO—PepsiCo
In an honest LinkedIn blog post, Indra Nooyi describes the day she was promoted to President of PepsiCo—and was greeted by her family with a less-than-enthusiastic response.
“My mother was visiting at the time.
“‘I’ve got great news for you,’ I shouted. She replied, ‘It can wait. We need you to go out and get some milk.’
“So I go out and get milk. And when I come back, I’m hopping mad. I say, ‘I had great news for you. I’ve just been named President of PepsiCo. And all you want me to do is go out and get milk.’
“Then she says, ‘Let me explain something to you. You may be President of PepsiCo. But when you step into this house, you’re a wife and mother first. Nobody can take that place. So leave that crown in the garage.'”
Nooyi acknowledges that it can be hard for people, especially working parents, to find work-life balance. That’s why she is implementing an on-site childcare for PepsiCo employees and near-site childcare for Texas-based employees. Said Nooyi: “That’s just part of our larger effort to make sure we’re supporting our working caregivers in every way we can and empowering people to build not just a career, but a life.”
Sheila Marcelo. Founder & CEO—Care.com
Sheila Marcelo cares about flexible work. That’s why the Care.com Founder, Chairwoman & CEO has an open-door policy when it comes to employees needing flex. “As someone who’s in both employer/employee situations (I’m a CEO, a mother of two boys, and I’ve helped provide care for my parents in the past), I know how hard it can be to keep up with the daily juggle. At my company, I’m responsible for encouraging an open policy where we give our team members the flexibility they need to manage their family lives while also being honest about my own obligations with our management team,” penned Marcelo in a HuffPo piece.
She not only encourages employees to be honest with themselves when they need flex, but to also talk to their managers to ask for it, too. And at the company’s Care Summit, they worked with non-profits that work with families together with corporations that are proponents of flexible work to create new ideas on how to create better work-life balance for everyone.
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