Work Life Balance

Mothers Are Finding Work-Life Balance, But Office Politics And Attitudes Still Weigh Them Down

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shutterstock_102925586Last week we were all up-in-arms after hearing Paul Tudor Jones’ statement about babies as a focus-killer. Rightfully so, he acted like women get an instant lobotomy when they become mothers. What’s missing from the discussion, after how wrong his comments were, is the fact that it is still relatively unacceptable to want anything more than to achieve the highest expression of a career you might start when you are in your early 20’s.

Even the acclaimed feminist notion of Sheryl Sandberg’s “leaning in” suggest the same. The message is: don’t change your goals, ambitions or priorities during your life, just lean in to get to the top of wherever you start out. It doesn’t make sense. It should be a woman’s (or a man’s) choice to reprioritze once they have a family to consider — or perhaps they just decide they don’t want their whole life to be about the successes they can achieve at work.

A new study, conducted by Citi, suggests that the women surveyed have a more flexible attitude about success, with a staggering 95% believing they can attain everything they want at work and at home.

“This survey absolutely reinforces what we’ve been hearing for the past year on Connect,” said Jacky Carter, LinkedIn community manager for Connect: Professional Women’s Network. “We know professional women are passionate about their work, their families and their personal growth, and it’s rewarding to see the transparency of our group trickle into this truly revealing study.”

Although 63% of the women report having “good work-life balance,” doesn’t mean they don’t encounter real issues at work. The most common complaints are pay, politics at the office and their role at work. Forty-two percent said they would like to have the flexibility to work from home more often and only 38% are interested in advancing to a leadership position.

The trend of women moving to other companies appears to be increasing as well, the research found. More than half of Generation Y respondents (those born in the 1980s and 1990s) said they see themselves working at another company or in a different industry in 10 years, while just 24 percent of women ages 35 and older said they see themselves moving on to another company.

“The survey results illustrate how women aren’t just looking up towards senior leadership roles at their current employers — they’re looking out for themselves, their families and their careers by exploring new options to enable their own progress,” said Linda Descano, managing director and head of digital partnerships at Citi and president and CEO of Women & Co., a personal-finance resource for women.

Gone are the days of loyalty to one company and one career. Attitudes about career success are changing and slowly evolving to meet a new generation’s wants. Women in the workforce now, and perhaps all Millennials, are interested in finding balance between home and career. They envision their journey in the professional realm as a winding road of discovery, rather than a straight and narrow path to the top. I wonder how long it will take for popular opinion to catch up.

(photo: Val Thoermer/Shutterstock)