Katharine Zaleski used to be a manager for The Huffington Post and The Washington Post. Now she’s the co-founder of a start-up that helps mothers in the tech field find jobs online so they can work remotely and be more flexible. She wrote an article for Fortune yesterday in which she apologized to all the mothers she worked with before she knew what is was like to be a professional with a child.
Zaleski founded Power To Fly in what seems to be a move at making amends to mothers everywhere. She admitted that as a former executive she did not take mothers seriously. She admitted to secretly rolling her eyes at a mother who couldn’t make it to last minute drinks. She “didn’t disagree when another female editor said we should hurry up and fire another woman before she ‘got pregnant.’” She scheduled last-minute work day meetings never considering that mothers had children to pick up from daycare. She admits that it wasn’t until she had kids herself that she realized how hard it is to balance a career and children. She says:
“I wish I had known five years ago, as a young, childless manager, that mothers are the people you need on your team. There’s a saying that ‘if you want something done then ask a busy person to do it.’ That’s exactly why I like working with mothers now.”
It’s refreshing to have a former executive cop to the underlying contempt that exists for mothers in the workplace. Yes, it’s not ideal that it took her experiencing being a mother herself to finally open her eyes — but that’s how the world works. It’s much easier to be empathetic when you are looking at something that affects you, too.
I admit that I initially rolled my eyes at her tale. I thought, “Oh great. Another successful, woman talking to us about how hard it is to be a mother.” But she’s not just talking, she’s doing. Her company is placing women in jobs every day and she’s hoping to expand to other fields. She put her money where her mouth is and I can only respect that.
If it takes powerful female executives to relay the message that mothers are struggling with work-home balance, so be it. At least people are listening to someone. Her platform will help women — that is the bottom line. She says, “There are so many ways we can support each other as women, but it starts with the just recognizing that we’re all in different positions at different times in our lives.”