30 Years of the 100 Best: Gloria Feldt

Originally published by Working Mother magazine.

Recently, I facilitated a panel on negotiation at the Watermark Conference for Women. It was a standing-room only event; women were clearly hungry for tips on how to get paid and promoted fairly. They started lining up for the mike even before the panelists had finished speaking.

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After I called time, I took one more question from a woman pleading for the panel’s response. “I have a masters in engineering,” she said, “and I worked in increasingly responsible positions in tech companies for 15 years. I took a few years off to be with my children, and now I can’t get back on my career path. Recruiters focus on the employment gap in my resumé. What should I do?”

Now, I have three children. Nothing I have done—not teaching school, not writing books, not even my former job as president and CEO of a large national nonprofit, Planned Parenthood Federation of America—has taught me as much as raising those kids. Organizational skills, budgeting, juggling priorities, dealing with diverse personalities, crisis management—you name it.

I blurted out, “Put parenthood on your resumé—and list the skills you learned from it; the things you’ve accomplished because of it.”

Cheers erupted. Women know it’s an idea whose time has come. It’s vital that companies hire and retain female employees—for three reasons:

  • BUSINESS: Women’s leadership is profitable. Research from MIT and Carnegie Mellon University shows that when you add women to previously all-male groups, it raises the groups’ collective intelligence. Companies with more women in top roles also make more money, studies reveal. We must honor the 80% of women who are mothers, and realize that 70% of women with kids under 18 are in the paid workforce.
  • JUSTICE: It’s only fair for all to have an equal chance. Women comprise half of all individuals in the U.S. workplace, yet they garner just 18% of top leadership positions, earning 78 cents to every dollar that a man earns. [bctt tweet=“Our daughters and granddaughters deserve better, and so do we.”]
  • HISTORY: This can be a historic moment—if we seize it. Earning 57% of college degrees, women are already poised to lead. Modern technology makes it easier than ever for female job-seekers with children to stay current in their fields—and it facilitates flexible working arrangements, too.

It’s time to think differently. On the 30th anniversary of Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies list, let’s start a campaign to make parenthood a legitimate aspect of our resumés. Are you ready to join?