These days, having kids in the background of work calls is pretty much unavoidable. One mom, however, chose to share a call with her daughter (yes, on purpose), and we need every manager to take note.
Rebecca Hurst, MBA, is a mom to three kids 6 and under and the director of distribution and logistics at the Cheesecake Factory’s corporate headquarters in Los Angeles. Last week, she was being honored with their “executive spotlight” on a company-wide call while her 6-year-old, Caroline, was home sick from school. Though the busy mom thought about giving her a distraction, she decided against it.
“I was going to do what millions of parents probably do and hand her an iPad to ensure she doesn’t interrupt my call, but then I decided no… She needs to be on the call with me,” Rebecca wrote in a powerful LinkedIn post. “Even if it doesn’t go according to script in front of thousands of people, this is real life as a working parent, and most certainly during COVID with millions of us juggling life working from home with kids, elders, pets… This is my opportunity to take a stand and show my company and especially my team that WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER, and yes, you can have a family and a career, and we will support you.”
We absolutely love this sentiment. This mama showed her true reality, unapologetically, and we wish every leader would jump on board. It’s going to take managers like Rebecca to create a cultural shift in the workplace and to acknowledge what working parents are facing these days.
“While not all jobs are conducive to remote work, some are, and companies should be flexible in supporting their working parents through this crisis and beyond,” Rebecca told Working Mother. “It was important for me, as a leader, to share because there is often a disconnect between executive leaders and the young parents they lead. By the time someone reaches a senior level role—and let’s be honest, it’s mostly men—they likely have older kids, or a spouse at home to help with the kids, and they get disconnected from the realities their teams might be facing. That is increasingly changing as glass ceilings get broken, and it was important for me to show my team and others that we are all in this together, and yes, I’m living proof that you can have a successful career and be a parent, and we are not judging you if your kid interrupts our call. You are a parent first—and our team member second.”
When employees see their bosses practicing work-life balance or juggling childcare or taking paternity leave or even struggling to make it through the day, it sends the message that it’s OK for them to do the same. Even better, it’s encouraged. Rebecca’s post shows why it’s so important to lead by example—even if it doesn’t necessarily go as planned.
The working mom explained why she’s now proudly displaying her young daughter in her LinkedIn profile picture: “because this is what you’re going to see in some of the meetings with me for a while, and we are still getting things done!”
One more time for the people in the back! Working parents can do it all (or most of it, at least) in the COVID era, as long as they have a supportive employer. As soon as leaders everywhere start being authentic about their own non-work commitments, moms will feel better about their own. Who knows, colleagues might even thank you for showing those cute faces.