Imagine this scenario: You’re a driven and ambitious woman with a flourishing career. You’ve worked hard to climb the corporate ladder, but there’s another significant role in your life—motherhood.
You probably don’t have to imagine it because you’re most likely living it, especially if you’re listening to this podcast.
The truth is that juggling the demands of advancing your accounting career while being a dedicated mom can feel like an overwhelming challenge. How do you balance your professional aspirations with the joys and responsibilities of raising children?
For countless women, the pursuit of career growth and the desire to nurture their families are not mutually exclusive. In fact, a growing number of working moms are actively seeking opportunities to excel in their professions while maintaining a fulfilling family life.
For example, Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of PepsiCo, is renowned for her remarkable career achievements while balancing her role as a mother. During her tenure, she successfully guided PepsiCo’s growth while raising two daughters.
Another example is Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and author of “Lean In.” Sheryl is a prominent figure in advocating for gender equality in the workplace, openly shares her experience as a working mother, and emphasizes the importance of supporting women in their careers while being present for their families.
While there are many more women that have broken the glass ceiling, the reality is not always a smooth and seamless journey. It involves navigating a delicate balance between work and family, overcoming obstacles, and discovering effective strategies for success.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women made up 62% of employees working in accounting services, such as payroll processing and auditing, in 2021. This number suggests the field is filled with robust potential for women interested in an accounting career.
While a significant percentage of women are engaged in the workforce while also nurturing their children, many face unique challenges. Issues such as mom guilt, managing time effectively, combating gender biases, and addressing the internal struggles of imposter syndrome can make the juggling act we have to manage even more complex.
Thankfully there are strategies and solutions available. Thankfully, success leaves clues, and there are trailblazers who have successfully juggled career advancement with motherhood.
By examining inspiring success stories and addressing common concerns, we can be empowered and encouraged to pursue our professional goals while embracing the joys of being a mom.
This week I’m going to discuss the reality of motherhood and career aspirations, some inspiring success stories, and some strategies you can implement in order to juggle career advancement with motherhood.
The reality of motherhood and career aspirations
Being a mother while pursuing career aspirations is a beautiful but complex journey. I started this journey of balancing an accounting career and motherhood in 1992 when my daughter, Kelly, was born.
Back then, there were more rumblings about breaking the glass ceiling, and the firm I worked for at the time, Deloitte & Touche, was leading the cause for working women to have a rightful place at the table. While that was great to hear, it was challenging to be that working mom trying to balance my career with motherhood.
Whether you work because you have to or because you want to, there has been a rise in the number of working moms since I had my first child. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of women who choose to work while raising children.
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 70% of mothers with children under the age of 18 were participating in the labor force in 2020. This statistic highlights the prevalence of working moms and the importance of discussing the challenges and opportunities we face.
The truth is that finding the right balance between career and family is a constant juggling act. The demands of motherhood, such as childcare, school activities, and household responsibilities, often compete with our professional obligations.
Striking a balance requires careful planning, effective time management, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. When my children were younger, I had to have a Plan A, B & C for childcare, just in case someone got sick and couldn’t watch one or both of my children or if my children got sick and I couldn’t go to work.
In the podcast episode I did last year for Mother’s Day, my daughter Kelly shared that she remembered the story about me bringing her to work with me during tax season one year. I had a pack-n-play set up in a conference room and had my teenage sister-in-law come and watch her because work had to get done.
When it comes to the pursuit of career advancement, many of us aspire to advance our careers and reach our full professional potential. We seek growth opportunities, promotions, and increased responsibilities.
However, the pursuit of career advancement can be met with unique challenges for mothers. These challenges may include biases, limited flexibility in the workplace, and societal expectations that place added pressure on us to prioritize our roles as mothers over our professional ambitions.
I’ve shared this a number of times, but I once worked for a tax partner at Deloitte who told me he was treating me poorly because I was taking a job away from a man. I not only had the normal struggles that come with being a working mom, but I also had this jerk putting up roadblocks because of his antiquated beliefs about a woman’s place.
While not every working mom has career aspirations, it’s important to acknowledge that the path to career advancement may differ from that of their childless counterparts. In a perfect world, things like maternity leave, career breaks, and flexible work arrangements shouldn’t affect our career progression, but many of us are not living in a perfect world.
While these things can affect the speed and trajectory of our career progression, it’s crucial to recognize that these factors do not diminish a working mom’s potential or dedication to her professional growth.
Inspiring Success Stories
Despite the complexities and obstacles, countless working moms have successfully navigated their way to fulfilling careers while raising their children. Their stories inspire and provide hope for others facing similar situations.
As I mentioned in the beginning, Indra Nooyi, a trailblazing businesswoman and former CEO of Pepsi6Co, is a shining example of a successful working mom who navigated numerous challenges on her path to success. Nooyi’s journey is an inspiration to women worldwide, showcasing how determination, resilience, and effective time management can help in balancing the demands of a thriving career and motherhood.
Nooyi, a mother of two daughters, embarked on her professional journey in the male-dominated corporate world. As she climbed the ranks at PepsiCo, she faced the arduous task of juggling her demanding career with the responsibilities of being a mother.
As most of us can relate, she often found herself torn between board meetings and parent-teacher conferences, striving to be present for her children while excelling in her role as an executive.
One of the key challenges Nooyi encountered was the scarcity of time. Balancing the demands of a high-profile position with family commitments required meticulous planning and prioritization.
She acknowledged that there were instances where she missed important family events or couldn’t be physically present due to work obligations. However, Nooyi made a conscious effort to make quality time count when she was with her family, ensuring that her presence was truly impactful.
Nooyi also faced internal struggles, grappling with the guilt that many working moms experience. She often questioned whether she was giving her best to both her career and her children.
Overcoming this guilt required a mindset shift and the realization that she was setting a positive example for her daughters by pursuing her dreams and showing them the possibilities that lay ahead.
In addition to personal challenges, Nooyi had to navigate the wider societal expectations placed on women. As a female executive in a male-dominated industry, she confronted gender biases and stereotypes.
She actively worked towards breaking these barriers and promoting gender equality within PepsiCo, advocating for policies that supported women’s professional growth and work-life integration.
Despite the hurdles, Nooyi’s determination and strategic leadership propelled her to the helm of PepsiCo, where she successfully guided the company’s growth and global expansion. Her ability to navigate the challenges of motherhood and career with grace and resilience serves as an inspiration to working moms worldwide, highlighting the possibilities of achieving both professional success and personal fulfillment.
Her story reminds us that the journey of a working mom is not without its challenges, but with perseverance, effective time management, and a supportive network, it is possible to thrive, both professionally and personally. Her legacy stands as a testament to the remarkable accomplishments that can be achieved when we are empowered to pursue our dreams while embracing the joys of motherhood.
Sheryl Sandberg is also a remarkable example of a successful woman who has navigated the challenges of juggling career advancement with motherhood. As the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Facebook and a prominent business leader, she has been an influential figure in the tech industry.
At the same time, Sandberg has been a vocal advocate for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Throughout her career, Sandberg has been open about her experiences as a working mother, sharing her insights and struggles.
She emphasizes the importance of recognizing and challenging societal norms and biases that hinder women’s progress in the workplace. In her best-selling book “Lean In,” she encourages women to pursue their ambitions unapologetically and to lean into leadership roles, even when facing potential challenges related to family responsibilities.
Sandberg’s success in juggling career and motherhood can be attributed to several key factors. First and foremost, she has been a strong advocate for workplace policies that support work-life balance, such as flexible working hours and parental leave.
She has also stressed the significance of having a supportive partner and a network of family and friends to share responsibilities at home. Additionally, she emphasizes the importance of being efficient and focused during work hours to maximize productivity and make time for family commitments.
Despite facing personal tragedy when she tragically lost her husband in 2015, Sandberg continued to inspire others by sharing her grief and demonstrating resilience. Her openness about the challenges she faced further endeared her to many, making her a relatable and inspirational figure for countless working mothers.
Sheryl Sandberg’s success in managing her career and motherhood has not only served as an inspiration for women around the world but has also spurred conversations and actions towards achieving gender equality in the workplace. By leading by example and using her platform to advocate for change, she has left a lasting impact on the business world, encouraging more inclusive practices that benefit both women and men striving to balance work and family life.
Strategies you can implement in order to juggle career advancement with motherhood
As working moms, it’s important that we develop various strategies to navigate the challenge of juggling career advancement with motherhood and find a harmonious equilibrium between our professional aspirations and the responsibilities of raising our children. So let me share some effective strategies that can help.
The first thing is time management and prioritization. Effective time management is important for every accountant, but it’s particularly crucial for working moms.
Learning how to properly prioritize tasks, set realistic goals, and create a schedule or routine can help optimize productivity and ensure that both work and family commitments are met. Identifying the most critical activities and focusing energy on them allows for efficient use of our limited time.
I’ve done many podcast episodes on time management because I believe it’s vital for working moms to understand how to better manage their time. If you want work-life integration, you have to understand how to better manage your time.
The next thing is leveraging technology and remote work options. The advancements in technology have provided us with valuable tools to facilitate work-life integration. Remote work options, video conferencing, and collaboration tools enable flexibility.
If there’s one thing that the pandemic showed us, it’s that accountants do not need to physically be in the office to get work done. But while technology and remote work options are helpful, it’s still important to be your own advocate, make sure you’re being recognized for your value, and not let a lack of face time impede your career aspirations.
Open and honest communication with employers about personal circumstances and discussing potential solutions can help create a supportive work environment. Just don’t let a flexible work arrangement make it mean that you aren’t entitled to the career advancement you want and deserve.
The next important thing is building a support network. I’ve said this before on the podcast but we all know it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to support the working mom raising that child.
The fact is that a strong support network is invaluable for working moms. This includes family, friends, and trusted caregivers who can provide assistance and share responsibilities.
As I shared before, I always had a plan A, B and, C when it came to my children because I never knew when a babysitter wasn’t available or when one of my children would get sick; which always seemed to happen during tax season. Having a support system allows us to delegate tasks, seek advice, and create a safety net that helps alleviate the burden of managing both career and family.
The next thing I recommend is emphasizing self-care and stress management. The truth is that prioritizing self-care is crucial for maintaining physical and mental well-being. We need to carve out time for relaxation, exercise, hobbies, and quality sleep.
By managing stress and putting our oxygen masks on first, we can approach our roles as mothers and professionals with renewed energy and resilience.
And the last thing is effective communication and boundaries. Setting clear boundaries and communicating effectively are essential for working moms.
Clearly defining expectations with your colleagues, supervisors, and family members helps manage time, reduce conflicts, and establish realistic limits. By being willing to openly discuss your needs, limitations, and potential challenges, you can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and promotes understanding and support.
Remember, every working mom’s situation is unique, and it may require some trial and error to find the strategies that work best for you. Being flexible, adaptable, and willing to adjust your approach as needed is key to successfully juggling career advancement with motherhood.
Hopefully, you can see that by implementing some of these strategies and seeking support when needed, you can navigate the challenges and achieve fulfillment in both your professional and personal life.
While a significant percentage of women are engaged in the workforce while also nurturing their children, many face unique challenges.
Issues such as mom guilt, managing time effectively, combating gender biases, and addressing the internal struggles of imposter syndrome can make the juggling act we have to manage even more complex.
Thankfully, success leaves clues, and there are trailblazers who have successfully juggled career advancement with motherhood.