Someone once said that “waves are the voices of tides,” and the waves of the current pandemic have certainly ushered in the tides of change. This wave of change has not been more evident to anyone than to female leaders sidelined by motherhood, a group that is looking at a level playing field maybe for the first time in history.
Just a few short months ago, we were dealing with a working world that was out of synch with executive moms. It was extremely challenging for rising female leaders who chose motherhood to be able to balance home and career and, too often, they were pushed into a career sidestep, break or downshift from which their career might never recover.
One study I came across from Goldman Sachs’ Global Markets Institute found that leaving the workforce for five years to raise children could cost women 20 percent of their earnings potential, although that time period represents only one-eighth of their working years. Another study found that 43 percent of highly qualified women with children leave their careers or off-ramp for a period of time, and while 74 percent of professional women will rejoin the workforce in some capacity after having a child, only 40 percent will return to full-time jobs.
Now, with nearly everyone working remotely and digitally, the work-from-home taboo is weakening and I believe we will see a shift of epic proportions as female leaders not only rise from the bench, but also pave the way for the next generation.
In truth, this is going to change everything. Here are four reasons why:
C-suite/board acceptance: The pandemic has brought every business leader face-to-face with something that has long limited the rise of female leaders: they simply weren’t in the room. Now, with business travel budgets slashed for the foreseeable future, working mothers will have a much greater opportunity to join boardroom, client and sales meetings remotely, without having to sacrifice time for travel. This will put female leaders who are mothers on equal footing with their peers, finally, and open doors that could enable them to reach their full potential.