The Way We Work by Wendy Silver

My name is Wendy, and I bet I am just like you. Trying to juggle it all. Work. Family. Life. I left a REALLY good corporate HR job over a year ago. I had enough of feeling like I had to choose between being a good mom and good employee. It didn’t feel good and it didn’t bring out the best in me. I immediately started my own HR consulting company providing pretty typical HR services. But what I have realized, want I really want to do, is completely change how we think about work and life.

The data is clear that the number of women in leadership positions go down, the higher up the corporate ladder you look. In part because women dropout to be around for their families. So what this says to me, is that in order for there to be MORE women leaders, we need to make some serious changes to how we let people work, and this includes making it easier and okay for men, to be more available dads. What does that look like…it looks like a working Dad picking his kids from school on a regular basis as the norm, and not the exception.

I want every company to make it possible for every working person to feel successful both at home and at work. And none of them should have to walk away from a really good job to do that. My fear is that despite my passion, I don’t know how to make this happen. I am worried people won’t take me seriously or worst, won’t even listen. Still…I have to try. As the mother of both a son and daughter…I know this is important.

Why did you choose this topic?

Workplace flexibility is a topic I’m very passionate about. I feel strongly people should not have choose between family and having professionally challenging work. It’s like making them choose between their heart and their head. How can you do that? Work-life balance is not about doing it all, it’s about helping people honor their values both personally and professionally, and not making them choose.

Why do women in the community need to hear it?

This isn’t just for women, but is particularly important for the advancement of women in leadership roles. We still don’t currently live in a culture that universally allows men or women to honor their family values. We still don’t have adequate paid leave laws in this country that support working parents. We still place more value on the number of hours spent in the office than on the individual contributions a person makes by virtue of who they are, their thoughts and ideas, and the work produced. Until we have a culture that supports an individual’s ability to successfully honor their values, we’re going to continue to have work environments with stressed-out people. We also will continue to have a disproportionate number of men versus women in leadership positions since we know family responsibilities still tend to fall on women.

WHMP celebrates Women’s History Month in a series of women speaking their truth, produced by WHMP News Director Denise Vozella, who leads a speaking club for women in Northampton, as part of the Speaker Sisterhood. The Speaker Sisterhood provides a community to women who want to discover, awaken, and create their voice through the art of public speaking.