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IWD 2024: In my first business, I exclusively hired working moms. Here’s why.
Sat, 9th Mar 2024

There’s a question I’ve run into in my professional career that seems to follow working women like a shadow: “How do you juggle it all?”

Many articles have been penned on the subject, and as Heidi Stevens of the Chicago Tribune muses in hers, “I wonder if the problem lies less in the question itself and more in whom we ask it of: namely, moms.”

Balancing career and family is often deemed a woman's burden to bear, but what if, instead of viewing motherhood as a hindrance to professional success, we saw it as an asset?

When I started my first business, I had just had my son a month earlier.  In 1996, it was not common for women in technology with infants to have work schedules with the remote work opportunities we appreciate today. Back then, we had two options: Work part-time or grin and bear a 40-hour work week with full 9-to-5 workdays without the benefit of flexibility. So what did I do after starting my business?  I hired three other women with infants to work with me. These women and the men ultimately hired to work with us were highly productive when they could work and had the flexibility to leave it behind to care for their families. My first company had thirteen new babies in the first three years. We were highly profitable and had excellent job satisfaction, and I’m proud to say that some of these women still work with me today.

So why did I do it? To create the type of workplace where we genuinely exercised a policy of family first, and to create opportunities for my talented colleagues who otherwise might’ve been denied similar working opportunities. It was a seemingly small and uncalculated move at the time, but with the benefit of hindsight, I recognize it as a prime example of women supporting women, which is important to highlight, especially on days like International Women’s Day.

Dolly Parton once said, “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are an excellent leader.”  I desire to be a leader who inspires others, thanks in large part to the trailblazing leaders who set that example for me.

Since the beginning of my career, I have had many great women mentors who have helped me advance while blazing a trail for women in a male-dominated industry. Starting out in telecommunications in the 1960s and 1970s, these mentors struggled to advance their careers under circumstances we would audibly scoff at today. I will never forget one of my mentors telling me that when she was newly promoted to management, she was told by her new peers that by taking a man’s job, she was “taking food out of people's mouths.”  Another mentor continually received cat calls working as a telecom “frame dame” when she bent over to adjust jumpers on the mainframe. Through perseverance and hard work, these women ultimately became senior executives at large telecommunications companies. They taught me the same perseverance and to rely on my skills to rise in my career as they supported me along my journey.

As a female business leader, I’m passionate about using my platform to empower other women. This means celebrating those who have come before us while also recognizing those making history right now. At 10x People, we actively seek opportunities to support and encourage young women considering STEM careers, women returning to the workforce, and female entrepreneurs by providing mentorship opportunities and promoting their businesses whenever possible. By supporting each other through recognition and initiatives such as these, we can ensure that more young girls feel inspired by the stories of powerful women throughout history—and realize their own potential for greatness too!

We also prioritize hiring practices that are focused on equal representation across gender lines, both within our team itself and among our partners. Today, women make up 35% of employees in STEM in the U.S., and many women in the workforce continue to earn less than their male counterparts while also facing gender-based discrimination. Even multiple decades removed from the stories I shared above about my mentors, we still have a long path ahead.

Women’s History Month is an important time for all of us to take stock of how far we have come regarding gender equality, but also reflect on the work left to do so true gender parity can be realized worldwide.

So, as we reflect on the strides we've made and the challenges that lie ahead, let us recommit ourselves to supporting and championing women in the workplace. Their success is not just their own, but a testament to the resilience, strength, and boundless potential of women everywhere.