Women@Work Diaries: Meet Katie Poehling-Seymour

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 that showcases the faces of career women handling domestic duties and work-life stressors to gain their authentic perspective of how it’s like to juggle both lives. Learn more about Katie Poehling-Seymour, a mother of three and President at First Supply, and her experiences as a working mother.

Glassdoor: Thank you so much for joining us for the first-ever Women@Work campaign, Glassdoor. Could you please introduce yourself?

Katie Poehling: Hi, my name is Katie Poehling Seymour. I’m the President at First Supply. And I have three children. Francis is about to be two in May, and I have seven-week-old twins, Georgia and Johanna.

Glassdoor: Thank you so much for joining us today, Katie. We’re going to hop right into these interview questions. Could you share your experience working during a global pandemic while also having to take care of your children? How has it been for you?

Katie Poehling: Sure I’d love to. Two cliches have really stuck with me over this past year as I think about my experience. First one, about mothering. The days are long, but the years are short. And the second one about work is that the pace of change will never again be this slow. And the two of them go hand in hand and go together somewhat ironically. Some days of juggling work and kids in life feel like forever. But then I look back at pictures at the beginning of the pandemic, and I think, “Oh my God, where’s my baby?” as every mother does everywhere. Because she was a baby then, and now she’s almost two. I also realized sometime in the first few months of this pandemic that this could be the ultimate education of my entire career, so I needed to figure out how to soak it all up.

I think about friends who have older children and how they’re missing out on these opportunities that can be definitive to your life. Things like prom and campus visits and graduations. I feel lucky that I don’t have that. At this point, home is a two-year-old’s whole life. I also used to travel a lot for work, and now I’ve stayed put a lot more, which has been really amazing. I have the opportunity to tuck her in every night, which I missed in pre-pandemic life. My experience is really positive in some ways, as hard as things have been.

I have seven-week-old twins. Part of my experience has been being pregnant and figuring out how to leave the workforce and return to it. So it was really a deeply personal decision for me, but I only took three weeks off for maternity leave. Which wouldn’t have been possible in a non-pandemic world. I usually would’ve been in a conference room. I would have had to be in our facilities. But today, I’m able to manage my employees over phone and video conference, so I can juggle all these things while still taking care of twins. 

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Katie with her three children.

So for me, I had taken on a new role during the pandemic and it made a lot of sense to continue to build the relationships that I’d started and the trust with my team rather than take a three-month break. It was great to feel like I didn’t miss the beauty of that. And I have the true luxury of a support system that let me even consider that as an option.

I’m an eternal optimist, but things certainly haven’t been perfect. There have been some tough days, hard times, hard decisions, hard moments. And I feel like I’d never had the ability to shut off. Even when I’m sleeping, I do it with one eye and ear open, listening for a newborn who’s ready to eat. So it’s tough to take a break. But I think that’s going to be the trick coming out of the pandemic, figuring out how to be present both at work and at home and in a world where there are no boundaries and no division between work and home quite literally these days.

Glassdoor: Recently Vice President Kamala Harris said that 2.5 million women who have left the workforce since the beginning of the pandemic constituted a national emergency. Have you felt like you had to sacrifice your career growth at all during this pandemic to further support your family at home?

Katie Poehling: I’ve been in an interesting position as it relates to this really troubling statistic. I found myself on the task force at the forefront of my company’s response, which was difficult in its own way. I felt truly responsible for 650 families, not to mention our customers. What if we made the wrong decision? Would one of these families face food insecurity? Would their health be in danger? What could happen to them? As I think about sacrificing my own career growth, it almost was that I had accelerated in some areas because I had all these other families that I suddenly felt some responsibility for. Our business tried to be as creative as possible so that we didn’t put our teams into this position to the best of our ability. We opened up conference rooms as set study spaces so kids could come to work with their parents. If they weren’t able to work from home, we offered extra PTO if people needed it, we found work for people to do if their role didn’t allow them to work remotely.

So we saw this national emergency certainly happening, and I’m pretty proud of our ability to feel like we could do something to try to make our employees feel like they didn’t have to be part of it. And so, as an extension of that, I was fortunate that while my career didn’t necessarily have to be stunted, it certainly took a bit of a different direction. And these past couple of months.

Glassdoor: How has your company been supportive of your career journey during COVID-19?

Katie Poehling: We tried to do some things really creatively, and I was certainly the beneficiary of that. My two-year-old didn’t have to come to work with me. Luckily I was able to work from home. But the biggest thing that my company did was to take a stance of transparency and open communication. That really helped us understand how our company would approach some of these challenging circumstances that any company was facing. How were we doing, our customers doing, how was business, what kinds of things were we going to do so that we felt safe in our offices? Our work is in utility distribution. So we were essential. Our employees needed to be in our facilities. And so that required a lot of communication about making sure that we were all going to be safe.

My company supported my career journey and everyone else is by making sure that we didn’t stop. We didn’t miss taking care of our customers and continuing to do the necessary work that we needed to do. And make sure that we had the resources to do it, which was extremely important. My company helped my own career journey because we made sure that as many people as possible had a voice as we continued through the pandemic. So I was able to tell my story to the rest of the company. And we were able to hear our fellow employees’ stories so that we truly felt like we were in this together. And it wasn’t something that we had to go through alone. We talked about things that our company never talked about before, like mental health and other topics that were just so important to be clear about during the pandemic.

Glassdoor: Have you enjoyed being able to work from home. Has it helped the balance between work and professional life?

Katie Poehling: I would say yes and no. So, of course, the past seven weeks have been phenomenal because I’ve been able to spend all this time with my newborns, but I feel like I could take care of my team and take care of the business. That’s so important to me. So that’s been really wonderful, but as I mentioned before, I have in the back of my mind this nagging feeling that we never have the time or space to turn off truly, and there really is no balance anymore. It’s work and life, and it’s all blended sometimes in this beautiful harmony and sometimes in this mass chaos.

And so well, most of it has been incredibly enjoyable just spending silly little moments with my almost-two-year-old. Being able to go for a walk with her or kick a soccer ball with her in the middle of the day. If I have 15 minutes. Those types of things are memories that I will carry with me forever. The trick is going to be this balance that there is no balance. And maybe that’s just what we all learned from this. Maybe that’ll be the takeaway of our generation of working mothers that there’s no balance. We have to give and take, and we’ll make it work.

Glassdoor: If you could share some advice for other working mothers, what would you like them to know?

Katie Poehling: That’s a tough question. The biggest thing that gets me through the days is remembering that we can’t do everything. We just can’t. We can only do the best at what’s in front of us. And some days, that’s just keeping our babies fed and not a danger. And some days, it’s only responding to emergency emails, but other days, it’s super mom, right. It’s art projects in the park and special snacks or kneeling a big meeting some days it’s all of that. But it’s tough to keep that perspective that whatever’s in front of us needs to be the most important at that moment. And as I think about, I think about trying really, really hard not to be disappointed in myself. Kind of a leave it all on the field mentality, I guess you could say. 

I really think the only real reason to be disappointed in ourselves is that we didn’t try as hard as we could have. Sometimes our best is all that we’ve got. With three kids under two and 650 employees. I don’t have time not to give my all most of the time. But it certainly happens. I had a big meeting earlier this week, and I didn’t prepare for it. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t do the work that I needed to do to really have a successful meeting. And I flubbed through it. And I knew that I was screwing it up as I was going along, but I found a way to give myself the space to have a follow-up. I had another chance. And I just had that meeting this morning, and I did the prep I needed, and the follow-up meeting went really smoothly. It shouldn’t have been that hard, but it was, but it all came together at the end.

Glassdoor: That’s what usually happens, right. It all comes together at the end.

Katie Poehling: Exactly. It all comes together at the end of the day.

Glassdoor: Thank you so much, Katie, for sharing your story and your journey with us.
Katie Poehling: Thank you very much.

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Women@Work Diaries: Meet Shipra Jain, Senior Test Engineer At Glassdoor

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 that showcases the faces of career women handling domestic duties and work-life stressors to gain their authentic perspective of how it’s like to juggle both lives. Learn more about Shipra Jain, a mother of two and Senior Test Engineer Designer at Glassdoor, and her experiences as a working mother.

Glassdoor: Thank you so much for choosing to participate in the Woman@Work Campaign. Could you please introduce yourself?

Shipra Jain: Hi, my name is Shipra, and I am a senior test engineer at Glassdoor. I joined Glassdoor a little over a year, and I enjoy working here. I have two kids, a fourth-grader and a toddler.

Glassdoor: Great. Could you please share your experience working during a global pandemic while also having to take care of your children? How has it been for you?

Shipra Jain: Work has definitely been a big challenge while taking care of kids. This pandemic came out of nowhere and none of us were prepared for it. I would say it was equally hard for parents and kids to adjust to the new normal. As we were already used to working from home, occasionally kids never had experience of learning over Zoom calls. I had to help my daughter with school work during the day and it was impacting my work, too. As she is in fourth grade, so she gets a lot of homework. Juggling between work, home, and kids, felt like I was on a roller coaster ride. Everyone thought that this pandemic is going to end soon, but it was not happening. So over time, like everyone, I also learned how to adjust between office and kids and all the work. I started to adjust my meetings on my kids’ schedule, started blocking my calendar to cater to my kids and home duties. I used to catch up on my work during early morning, late evenings, and even over the weekends, which has helped me a lot to be able to deliver at my work.

There were some occasions where I was attending meetings by trying to pacify my toddler and he was in my hand, and I was attending meetings. And sometimes even during the meeting, my colleague could hear my child crying. On the brighter side, I enjoyed working from home because I was able to spend a lot more time with my family than before. I was able to adapt healthy lifestyle and manage to get some time for my workout. And I am proud and very happy to share that I shed off 20 pounds during this time, which was a big win for me.

Glassdoor: Amazing. Congratulations on that. So recently, Vice President Kamala Harris said that 2.5 million women who have left the workforce since the beginning of the pandemic constituted a national emergency. How have you felt like you have to sacrifice your career at all during this pandemic to further support your family at home?

Shipra Jain: In the beginning, I thought I will also have to take a break from my job to support my family because I felt so overwhelmed with so many additional responsibilities. Restaurants were closed. Kids were at home. Taking care of all these things was a lot of work. But then, I and my husband sat together and we created a plan of sharing responsibilities and that helped a lot. And it worked out all well for us.

Glassdoor: How has Glassdoor been supportive of your career journey during COVID-19?

Shipra Jain: Glassdoor has been very, very supportive during the pandemic. I was so happy to hear that our leadership team recognized the challenge for working parents, and they offered a flexible work schedule. We also started getting additional company holidays, which was a big help.

Glassdoor: Have you been enjoying being able to work from home? Has it helped to balance work life and professional life?

Shipra Jain: Yes. I love working from home because I save three hours of commute time per day, which is huge. It has helped me bond with the children. I could spend quality time with my daughter. I could do some painting, even in the daytime, when she was getting bored and I did not have any meetings and all that. I could see my daughter growing up more closely and doing cute naughty stuff during the day, which I would have missed, otherwise. I absolutely loved it.

Glassdoor: Lastly, could you share some advice for other working mothers? What would you like them to know?

Shipra Jain: I understand the challenge of working mom, managing everything. And I understand the managing everything is not a piece of cake, but I would share a few key points which helped me tremendously.

Have clear communication with your manager to have the work-life balance. Set realistic goals and don’t beat yourself if you’re not able to do something. Lastly, share responsibilities with your partner so that you can find time for yourself to relax and recharge, this is very important.

Glassdoor: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

Shipra Jain: You’re welcome. I’m happy to be here and I hope it help other parents.

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Women@Work Diaries: Marielle Leon, B2B Content Marketing Manager At Glassdoor

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 that showcases the faces of career women handling domestic duties and work-life stressors to gain their authentic perspective of how it’s like to juggle both lives. Learn more about Marielle, mother of two teenage boys, B2B Content Marketing Manager at Glassdoor, and her experiences as a working mother.

Glassdoor: Thank you so much, Marielle, for joining us for our first-ever audio campaign for Women@Work. Could you please introduce yourself?

Marielle Leon: I’m so excited to participate in this. My name, as you mentioned, is Marielle Leon and I oversee B2B content for Glassdoor. I’ve been here for almost five years, and I have two boys aged 12 and 14.

Glassdoor: Awesome, thanks so much for introducing yourself. Let’s hop right into these interview questions. Could you please share your experience working during a global pandemic while also having to take care of your two boys? How has it been for you?

Marielle Leon: Sure. Well, it’s been a wild ride. I mean, it doesn’t matter who you are. Parent, kid, single, college student, elderly, everyone has been through the wringer this past year. Overall, I’m really grateful for what the pandemic has taught me about what I truly value. I’ve gotten in better touch with what really lights me up. There are some things that I didn’t realize were so important to me that I took for granted before. And I’ve realized that there are other things that I thought mattered more, honestly. Before the pandemic, my husband, who runs a global sales team, traveled a lot. He would be out of town, usually on another continent, for somewhere between ten days and two weeks out of every month. I did a lot of juggling when he was gone. Glassdoor was always really supportive of my flex schedule, and that allowed me to leave work at three, get my kids from school and sports practices, and then get back online later in the evening.

Once we were all suddenly working from home all the time; this time last year, everything came to a screeching halt. I was so grateful not to be crisscrossing town during rush hour traffic, feeling stressed out about being late or missing a meeting while managing schedules of my two kids who had to be in two different places and trying to get a healthy snack in them in the process. So suddenly, the simplicity of everything when the pandemic hit felt like a real gift. All we had to do was focus on two things, doing a good job at work and taking the time to connect as a family.

But of course, you know, parenting kids who are suddenly stuck at home is no cakewalk either. As I mentioned, I’ve got two boys, 12 and 14, which was a huge transitional year for them. My younger son started middle school, and my older son started high school. And knowing that they were being robbed of this important initiation and rite of passage, you know, the first year in middle school, the first year in high school, that felt sad. But the silver lining was that they really learned how much they actually want to go to school. Like actually go in person to school. I don’t think my kids will ever dread school again. They miss it, their friends, the autonomy, the group dynamics, all of that.

The kids weren’t the only ones who realized that they thought they loathed something that actually turns out to have some bright spots. My husband and I for, sorry, I’m kind of rambling here, but my husband and I, for the first time, are grateful for video games and the way kids could gather and connect virtually. We’re, I know, right? We’re lucky that our kids are super active with soccer and skateboarding, and biking, so they could stay busy and moving their bodies. And we’re also fortunate that they’re at an age where they’re pretty autonomous with online school. Still, honestly, I cannot imagine having toddlers or early elementary school-aged kids during the pandemic. Those parents seriously deserve trophies.

But as far as working from home goes, there were, you know, some obvious hiccups. My husband and I share an office; I know I’ve mentioned this to you before, but he talks on the phone all day long, and he is not a quiet talker. As a writer, I really need to focus and be in my own headspace. My noise-canceling headphones really never come off. Sometimes the kids wander in and out to pick up homework from the printer or ask for a snack, or the dogs start going bananas because there’s a delivery at the door. But for the most part, I feel really grateful for the rhythm we’ve fallen into. But of course, you know, I’m ready for my kids to be back at school full time, and I’ll be happy for my husband when he gets to travel again, though I hope it’s not as much.

I’m really grateful for what I’ve learned, that we should never go back to eating grab and go food again, cooking every meal in my kitchen is amazing, and hiking with my dogs. Any member of my family is better than any extravagant night on the town. And I’m fortunate that I love my job and can do it from the safety of my home.

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Glassdoor: As you know, recently, 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. Have you ever felt like you had to sacrifice your career growth at all during this pandemic to further support your family at home?

Marielle Leon: Well, my heart aches for the many women in the United States and globally who had lost momentum in their careers because the pandemic happened before they got a solid foothold in the workforce. I’m fortunate that you know, I’m at a different point in my career, and my kids are a little bit older, but you know, people, women especially who are forced to be at home with small children in the midst of a faltering economy, there really could be long-term repercussions. And, of course, when women don’t have healthy careers and the ability to thrive independently, there are all kinds of fallouts. And even women who are still in the workforce, if there’s an unequal set of responsibilities at home, women are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to performance reviews and promotions. And it’s just yet another reason I’m so grateful for the even share of household tasks between my husband and me. Don’t get me wrong; I do the laundry, but you know he does most of the dishes in his defense.

Glassdoor: How has Glassdoor been supportive of your career journey during COVID-19?

Marielle Leon: I think Glassdoor has done a really amazing job supporting their employees during the pandemic. Of course, you know, we’re all aware of the layoffs and how, you know, that was just hard for everyone. And it’s not like there haven’t been hiccups or growing pains this past year, but I think the leadership has been as transparent as possible and very empathetic. As far as supporting my career journey, first off, I’m just so grateful that I have a job I love. Before the pandemic, my career journey felt like a steady if somewhat slow rise up into the rid; I’d say the visual from the past year is more like a toddler scribbling on graph paper. Some days I’m on fire and crushing it; other days, I’m just holding on. At least in terms of my personal skills and growth, I think my career is still steadily climbing. And for that, I’m really beyond grateful.

Glassdoor: How have you been enjoying being able to work from home? Has it helped balancing work-life successfully?

Marielle Leon: I really, really enjoy working from home, honestly. I do miss my colleagues and boy, I need more hugs and actual high fives from my teammates and just in life in general, but I’m mostly thrilled at what we’ve all been able to accomplish from our remote home offices.

Glassdoor: Lastly, if you could share some advice for other working mothers, what would you like them to know?

Marielle Leon: I would say, you know, working parents, in general, are superheroes. I mean, seriously. We all moms, dads, and caretakers of all kinds, really. We’ve already likely fed, dressed, coordinated the schedules, and managed several other humans’ emotional well-being before evening starting work. And you know, every parent, every caretaker likely is, you know, when they’re stepping away from Zoom calls and Google Sheets for their jobs, they’re getting back on Zoom for a school meeting and getting back into Google Sheets or any one of the thousands of platforms we all now negotiate to help our kids with homework. It’s a labor of love, but it’s not easy. And we’re so strong as a result. I’d say, remember to be amazed at all you accomplished in a day; it is truly astounding.

Glassdoor: Thank you so much, Marielle. We do appreciate your time and your story.

Marielle Leon: Thanks, I appreciate it!

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Women@Work Diaries: Meet Diana Kim, Senior Product Designer at Glassdoor

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.

Take 30 Seconds to Help Support Equality: Anonymously add your demographic information at Glassdoor to help pinpoint pay gaps and diversity disparities in ratings and salaries. If you are a caretaker, please submit your demographic data within the Parent or Family Caregiver section.

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The Power Of Authenticity And Perseverance: A Conversation with Katrina Lake, CEO of Stitc…

In honor of Women’s History Month, Glassdoor’s WinG ERG and Samantha Zupan, Vice President of Corporate Communications, hosted a dynamic fireside chat with Katrina Lake, Founder & CEO of Stitch Fix, to discuss the power of authenticity, following your path, and being a vulnerable leader, all while juggling parental duties. In 2011, Katrina founded Stitch Fix to help women everywhere discover and explore their style through a truly client-focused shopping experience. While attending Harvard Business School, Katrina saw an opportunity to combine data science with human stylists to reinvent the retail space completely, deliver an unparalleled, personalized experience, and guide consumers to items they love. 

Glassdoor has a similar mission to Stitch Fix, providing job seekers and career-conscious employees insights and data to guide their career journeys and help them find a company they love. Also, at Glassdoor, we know that a company is only as good as its people — and Katrina agrees. As a compassionate and empathetic leader herself, she values hearing her employee’s opinions and empowering them to make decisions within the Stitch Fix organization. She believes that’s a strong mark of being an effective leader. 

Katrina and Samantha also discussed the importance of persevering through tumultuous times and hardships. Katrina shared her cultural background, being a woman in a male-dominated venture capitalist world, and the examples of strength and perseverance she observed and modeled from her great grandmother and grandmother. Katrina serves as a positive role model to many entrepreneurial and career-driven women who are also mothers to step in your authenticity to achieve your goals and dreams.

Wondering what exactly you missed out on? Check out our four impactful takeaways from Katrina Lake.  

Finding a way by showcasing perseverance and flexibility. 

As a Japanese-American entrepreneur and mother navigating the tech space, Lake faced several challenges, which were breaking through syemstic biases to gain new capital to fund Stitch Fix. She made her mark in a male-dominated industry, becoming one of the youngest women to take her company public at the age of 34 (until 2021 when she happily handed the title to Whitney Wolfe Herd of Bumble), and the only woman in 2017 to lead an initial public offering in technology, all while being a mother to a small child. 

“The idea of believing in possibility is undoubtedly foundational to my upbringing. I was really lucky to have female role models in my life. I do believe that there is a way and path. It might always be easy and it might not always be obvious but I feel lucky that I had this wide lens on what’s possible in the world because of the influence of these women in my life.” – Katrina Lake 

Embracing authentic and vulnerable leadership. 

“I clung on to the notion of authentic leadership, without knowing it had a name from the early days. It was the only tool that I had in my toolkit. I had never managed anyone before, I hadn’t had a big network. There was nothing extraordinary about me that would lead someone to think that I would be a kickass founder. The only tool I had around leadership was authenticity, bringing people along and having people feel like they were part of this journey and being vulnerable allowed people to buy into me in my vision. The idea of being authentic really serves you well across multiple stages of the company.” – Katrina Lake 

Don’t be performative without some type of action. 

“With Black Lives Matter, I didn’t want to say a bunch of words and not do something. I’m really proud of the work we did, we committed to sharing a bunch of data and that was a commitment that we made. We realized millions of dollars a year with vendors, which is economic power. When we looked at those dollars and how they were distributed it was pretty stunning in terms of how Black vendors were massively underrepresented in our vendor base. That was something we could do something about, and something that did make a difference.” -Katrina Lake 

Knowing your power as a leader and individual. 

“It’s helped my mental state to focus on things that I actually have control over. There were tons of things I couldn’t control. To be able to accept the things that are not in your control and to be able to feel empowered by things that you do have control over, it’s a really powerful concept and one that we talk about at Stitch Fix too. How can you feel empowered by the things you can control versus limited to what you can’t? There were a lot of things that weren’t able to control last year (COVID-19) but we all found a way.” -Katrina Lake

See Stitch Fix’s Open Jobs below:

See Open Jobs

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Four Ways To Help The Women In Your Network Succeed During COVID-19

Happy Women’s History Month! Congress designated March as our annual opportunity to “celebrate the contributions women have made to the United States and [to] recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields.”

But women’s progress has been complicated by COVID-19. The pandemic cued challenges for working women across the professional spectrum. As a result, scores of women are leaving the workforce. “The pandemic’s female exodus has decidedly turned back the clock by at least a generation, with the share of women in the workforce down to levels not seen since 1988.” NPR’s Pallavi Gogoi.

Working mothers have been especially impacted. “In a survey from May and June, one out of four women who became unemployed during the pandemic reported the job loss was due to a lack of childcare, twice the rate of men surveyed. A more recent survey shows the losses have not slowed down: between February and August mothers of children 12 years old and younger lost 2.2 million jobs compared to 870,000 jobs lost among fathers.” Nicole Bateman and Martha Ross write for The Brookings Institution.

December 2020 alone illustrates a bleak picture for working women. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)’s Monthly Jobs Report shows employers cut 140,000 jobs in December. Women lost 156,000 jobs while their male counterparts gained 16,000.

Women of color are disproportionately impacted. The National Women’s Law Center’s Claire Ewing Nelson explains: “Black women and Latinas continue to be struck by the economic crisis: More than 1 in 12 Black women ages 20 and over (8.4%) and about 1 in 11 Latinas (9.1%) remained unemployed. December’s jobs data also indicates that many unemployed people have been out of work for most of the COVID-19 crisis.”

This March is our opportunity to recognize the extent to which women have been economically impacted by the pandemic and to reach out. Start with the women in your network.

Champion local businesses, especially women and minority-owned.      

The communities where we reside are our network in the most concrete sense. Supporting the small, local businesses that comprise our communities is more important now than ever. Small business owners have poured their effort and creativity into revising their business models on the fly. They’re struggling to survive.

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Vice President Kamala Harris lamented: “We’ve all felt the loss when businesses in our neighborhoods have closed this past year. In February 2020, around 5 million women were business owners. By April, 1 in 4 had closed their doors.”

Make a commitment to small businesses in your community, especially those that are women and minority-owned. Mindfully support them. Check on them. Connect with them. Use their products and services personally and professionally whenever possible, and rave about them across your social media platforms.

Be a mentor, or better yet, a sponsor.

Mentorship is vital to career growth. Mentors are seasoned practitioners who ideologically guide mentees. It isn’t necessary that they work for the same employer or even in the same field as their mentees. They are advisors who help mentees flesh out their ambitions and shape their plans.

Sponsors, on the other hand, champion their protégés’ advancement through concrete action. Sponsors work at the same organizations as their protégés. Sponsors use their connections to advance their protégés by endorsing and guiding them. This can be especially helpful for unrepresented professionals, including women.  

If you have not yet served as a mentor or a sponsor, make your mission start this March.

Embrace flexibility.

Bateman and Ross write: “COVID-19 is hard on women because the U.S. economy is hard on women, and this virus excels at taking existing tensions and ratcheting them up…Problems facing women in the labor market have never been hidden, but they have been inconvenient to address because they are so entrenched in the basic operations of our economy and society.” The current exodus of women from the workforce is a testament to this point. If you’re in a leadership position, adapt operations to create a professional culture that includes female professionals.

Janelle Owens, HR Director at Test Prep Insight, explains: “The best thing we can do to help women succeed during these trying times is to be flexible in our expectations…cut women a break wherever possible. It is not a handout or charity, but simply what needs to be done to offer equal footing.”

Recognize: an ask to be included at work is not a luxury. It’s a lifeline. Be an ally, and support your co-workers. Owens adds: “For employers, this means offering flexible schedules and reduced responsibilities. . . We have offered several women on our team reduced schedules without dropping their benefits or demoting them. The bottom line is that we need to be understanding, flexible, and offer female colleagues assistance wherever possible. That is how we are going to help women succeed.”

Listen.  

Internalize the numbers you’re reading about the crisis levels at which women are leaving the workforce; recognize the urgency of this.

Here’s what you can do to assist:

  • Make an introduction to help a neighbor.
  • Babysit for a family member preparing for an interview.
  • Revise a resume for a former coworker.
  • Provide a reference for a friend.
  • Reach out however you can.

Because here’s the truth:” Vice President Harris writes. “Our economy cannot fully recover unless women can fully participate.”

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