Recent reports show that the economy and US job market continue to slowly improve, with employers hiring at a steady pace in April. One interesting perspective comes from Warren Buffett, billionaire investor and a self-described unqualified optimist. His opinion, “Women are a major reason we will do so well.” Buffet says most of America’s prosperity was created using only about 50% of its talent — men. So he’s confident the country will prosper as more women excel in the workforce. The number of women supporting families is increasing- approximately 41% of mothers are primary breadwinners.
What’s Holding Women Back? Ourselves!
Ellen Bravo, director of the Family Values @ Work consortium, observed, most “women are not thinking about “having it all,’ they’re worried about losing it all—their jobs, their children’s health, their families’ financial stability—because of the regular conflicts that arise between being a good employee and a responsible parent.”
Over the past week, I’ve seen several friends struggle with the juggling act, and am frustrated when I see women impose limitations on themselves, talking themselves out of achieving their full potential. One colleague considered posting for a VP position at a Fortune 100 company. It was her “dream job,” but she felt that the role was more than she could handle due to family commitments. Another colleague, droned on and on about her discontent with her current role and pay grade, but was postponing a change until “the job market rebounds and her kids were a little older.”
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I admit that I’ve limited myself too. Last year, I grappled with the decision to broaden my job search outside of the Connecticut area. I have twin 15 year-old twin boys who were starting high school and I hesitated to move them. Would it rock their world to transfer to a different school system, make new friends, adapt to new coaches? Luckily, I found an excellent consulting position which allowed me to work remote and mainly with east coast clients. But I’ve come to realize that they’re kids- they would have adjusted to the move, and maybe it was me who afraid? My pursuit of a meaningful life includes challenging work as well as rich personal experiences. This applies to both women AND men. No excuses- don’t take yourself out, don’t limit yourself!
Fortune 500 companies across the globe have launched diversity initiatives to attract, develop, engage and retain top female talent, providing stretch assignments and support through mentors. Employers are revisiting flexible work practices as well. Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Lean In has inspired women to launch Lean In Circles, small groups that meet regularly to share, learn and help each other achieve their goals. I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and am starting my own Lean In Circle locally- have you started your circle?
In a recent Fortune interview, Buffet commented, “the closer that America comes to fully employing the talents of all its citizens, the greater its output of goods and services will be.” What limitations have you put on yourself? What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Will you join me in “Leaning In?” I look forward to your comments…