According to the New York Times, Vice President Kamala Harris said that the 2.5 million women who have left the workforce since the beginning of the pandemic constituted a “national emergency.” According to Labor Department data, that number compares with 1.8 million men who have left the workforce. For many women, child care demands, coupled with layoffs and furloughs in an economy struck by the pandemic, have forced them out of the labor market.
For Women’s History Month, we want to honor the women juggling many domestic duties while maintaining a fruitful career. Our goal for the Women@Work Dairies campaign is to capture internal and external employees’ raw and honest experiences with juggling working from home, taking care of their families, all while surviving a pandemic. We want to capture these transparent and genuine conversations and share them externally to act as an example of how other employers should shed some light on this issue by offering support to this subgroup of employees.
We created an audio series hosted on our that showcases the faces of career women who are handling domestic duties and work-life stressors to gain their authentic perspective of how it’s like to juggle both lives. Learn more about Diana Kim, mother of two and Senior Product Designer at Glassdoor, and her experiences as a working mother.
Glassdoor: Thank you so much for joining the Women@Work Campaign. Could you please introduce yourself?
Diana Kim: Hi, thanks so much for having me. I’m Diana Kim, and I am a designer at Glassdoor and a working mom of two really adorable, energetic, crazy kids, ages four and two, Chloe and Ethan. And I’m excited to be here to chat with you.
Glassdoor: We’re excited that you’re here as well. So let’s hop into these interview questions. So share your experience working during a global pandemic while also having to take care of your children. How has it been for you?
Diana Kim: Gosh, now it’s been a year, almost exactly, to when the shutdown started. And things have obviously gone through a progression, it hasn’t always been the same, but when I think about this question, I’m thinking about the initial time when everything was shut down, and there was a lot less certainty than we have now, as we get closer with vaccines. But at that time, both of my kid’s childcare providers closed for five months, and both my husband and I started working from home, and we were really juggling, trying to do our work, and taking care of the kids. And my son just started walking at that time. So he was climbing on everything, and it was a lot of chaos, but thankfully we were able to work remotely, and we were able to manage things. Still, definitely, our jobs took a little bit of a back seat in terms of priority because our kids were right there, and they are really so important to us. I’m really thankful because I think children are really resilient and they’re not as scared or weakened by this experience as some of the parents have been worrying about. But at the time, I remember feeling emotionally very guilty because it just made me sad that my kids were suddenly distracted for most of the day. And I hated them feeling that way, they had to be quiet, or they couldn’t do anything. And suddenly, it shifted from when we’re together that they are focused, or they’re important to they have to be really small. That was really hard. I remember thinking if this continues, maybe I would have to take a leave or quit, not because I didn’t feel like I could do the work, but I didn’t want my kids to feel so much not important. Those are some of the feelings that I’ve had. Yeah.
Glassdoor: Thank you for sharing. Leading into that, how has Glassdoor been supportive of your career journey during COVID-19?
Diana Kim: Glassdoor has been so extremely supportive in so many ways, both psychologically, emotionally, and tangibly. They gave out a stipend to help set up our at-home offices. They were very open and generous about having to block off time, or take off time, needed to take care of children, and deadlines, or work priorities; we were definitely told to prioritize our families and our personal life, and our mental health. And I just thought it was just extremely supportive, and I felt very seen and heard, and like I’m a human being outside of just an employee.
So I just thought they did an excellent job. And I’m a fairly new employee here, so I was so delighted to see that they really live the mission that we are trying to accomplish for our customers and the employees. So yeah, I feel so fortunate and lucky. Sometimes I feel bad even talking about it with some friends who work at other companies because I don’t want to say spoiled or anything because I don’t want to say anything’s wrong with it. Still, I feel fortunate and blessed that I had such good support from the company.
Glassdoor: That’s good to hear. How have you been enjoying being able to work from home? Has it helped to balance your work and personal life?
Diana Kim: Yes. I have actually been; once we figured out all our rhythms and the different schedules and everything, I’ve been enjoying it a lot because I’m saving time on commuting and also, therefore, getting some extra time to spend with my family. It’s not such a rush to get everybody ready and out the door in the morning was so stressful before, but that’s gone now where I don’t have to get all ready. I could get the kids ready, or we take turns with the kids. So that’s been really great. And I’ve just liked being able to integrate my work life and my personal life. So it doesn’t feel so much like, Oh, this is my job. And I just go there; I do this; it feels much more personal. So I feel more invested in it, and I feel like my work is more authentically part of my life. So in that way, it’s been good. I know that’s hard because sometimes the boundaries blur, and some people say, Oh, they have to work off-hours and all this stuff, which is true. Still, I think at the end of the day; it’s been net positive, where I feel more ownership of my time and just the fact that Glassdoor trusts us to do our work, not having to see us. When I feel trusted, I feel like I want to meet that trust and deliver. So I just feel more responsibility to do a good job as well. So overall, I feel like it’s been very empowering and good for me.
Glassdoor: Right. So if you can lastly share some advice for other working mothers, what would you like them to know?
Diana Kim: Firstly, I think it can be overwhelming to think about having to figure out a way to be the best mom and the best worker and have all these professional and personal goals and things. But I think what I’ve realized is I’ve really started making progress when I just started chipping away at small goals versus trying to set up a perfect plan and the perfect goal and then acting on it. I’ve realized that once I became a mom, you work with the small chunks of time that you find throughout the day and make a lot of things happen. And once you make a little bit of success towards any goal, you start building momentum, and you start having bigger successes, and it just becomes a bigger snowball. So, I’ve just been telling friends and others, when we talk, just start anywhere. It doesn’t have to be perfect; actually, except that it won’t ever be perfect, and action creates confidence because you realize that a lot of things that you’re scared of, not really as bad as you might think, or you’re more capable, or powerful than you might think.
Glassdoor: Awesome. Thank you. Do you have anything else to share about previous work experiences or how you’ve landed at Glassdoor and becoming a mother?
Diana Kim: Yeah, I do. I wanted to say that before I became a mom, I read a lot of things about the difficulty of being a working mom, and how sometimes you feel like your career suffers, and things like that, but I really just didn’t think it was real, much like, I’m Korean-American. I read about racism and things that until I’ve experienced it directly, I just felt like, Oh, it’s not necessarily real, or something like that. I guess that’s an extreme example, but it was similar when I came back from my first maternity leave, it was hard emotionally to leave my kid and go back to work, but I didn’t expect all the little subtle changes that would eventually amount to a little bit of stagnated career growth.
I was out, and I came back, and I realized I was getting smaller projects, and I was told things like, “Oh, we know you have a lot going on at home, so we didn’t want to stress you out.” Things like that. And it’s very thoughtful, and when you hear those things, you’re thankful in the moment, and you say, thank you. Still, over time you realize you’re getting less scope, less impact, and then come promotion time, you’re told, Oh, you didn’t do X, Y, Z, but then you’re like, wait, I wasn’t given that opportunity, et cetera. But then they might still give you a little pay bump, or something, you’re like, oh, I should just be thankful. They’re keeping me around. And you slowly just start feeling. I experienced this in previous workplaces when I came back from maternity leave. Accepting some of those small things that feel like gifts to you eventually took away my power. And that was hard, I think. And then we had another kid, and I’m like, Oh God, what’s going to happen here? But at that point, I was like, I’m already mommy tracked. And I ended up taking even longer maternity leave because I just thought, okay, my career growth is already stalled here. And yeah, when I went back, it was the same. I would say they couldn’t fire me or let me go; I guess they could have, but I was doing good work, I was making an impact, and they just… I felt that I saw others without children, without families, that kept getting more and more work because they were seen as more reliable, having fewer bigger priorities, I guess.
I’ve tried bringing up different leaders and management, but it was almost like I was gaslighted in a way where it’s like, no, that’s not happening. And you’re still paid very well. So, don’t think too much about it and just enjoy your kids and things like that. And yeah, I just took it, but over time, once I got back really talking to different coaches and mentors, I just realized those, I guess, could have been labeled as little microaggressions in a way. And once I put my resume and everything together, changed jobs, and moved to a different environment, I realized how much of my value I had given away and how much more I was capable of even with kids.
Yeah, that was really reflecting, that was a tough experience that I went through, but I think I learned a lot from it. Also, yeah, a lot from it, and boundaries between being polite, but also assertive and respectful, but still fighting for yourself, and realizing that people will treat you how you let them in a way, not to put all the responsibility on me, but yeah, I just learned a lot through that experience. So it was hard, but I am thankful for it. So, yeah.
Glassdoor: How did you center yourself and take your power back as a mother and employee?
Diana Kim: Yeah. I realized, okay, I’m going to do the best with what they’ve given me, the scope of work, I’m going to do my best job. Still, I’m also realized that my energy is a limited resource. If this is how they’re going to treat returning mothers because I wasn’t the only one that experienced this, I’m not going to invest, I guess, I don’t know if this is the best way, it was like a little bit, I was more realistic, and I thought, okay, I’m going to do the best I can do with this and deliver on what I am supposed to be. Still, I’m not going to invest too much of my heart energy into trying to change this massive institution, culture. I’m going to look for other opportunities, really. That’s what I decided rather than trying to put too much there.
So, let me think. So how I took my power back there is, instead of looking to something flawed to validate me, and trying to get their approval and tell me no, you’re good, you’re good, and keep trying to prove myself, which is what I was trying to do originally. I realized there was a flaw in the system, not in me, and I decided to own that, and I realized what I could change, and it was my situation that I could change. And, yeah. Once I let that go, it helped with my confidence, putting my materials together and applying them to different places. And it all worked out very well in the end. So, that was a part of it. So, yeah.
Glassdoor: Thank you so much for sharing your story and your journey. We really do appreciate it.
Diana Kim: Oh, thank you.
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