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blogging on contract work and on demand talent

Family leave and self-employment

I just watched my three year old “graduate” from her first year of preschool. It was a cute ceremony, and the room was filled with parents that sat in long rows with their cameras trained on the kids up front. But it’s also 11am on a Friday, and that means I was one of the only dads in the room.

There were several moms who couldn’t make it, too. Most parents have to do what their jobs demand. But seven years ago my wife and I began to arrange our careers in a way that would let us both be present for the important moments in our (future) kids lives. When we decided to start our photography business, a lot of people asked why we didn’t want to wait a few years for us to be more established financially. In part, the answer was that I wouldn’t let myself take such a big risk while having kids to feed. I wanted the business itself to be more established by the time we did have kids, because one of the main reasons we started the business in the first place was to be able to parent on our own terms.

Why We Lean Back

All right. I read it. The book that everyone, including my hero, Jon Stewart, has been talking about. So many reviews have been written about this book, that people have resorted to writing reviews of the reviews. The hype has been so incredibly, hyper—The Time story! The 60 Minutes piece! The banner ads! The web community!—that I was ready to harbor a deep dislike for this book. But that did not happen. At the risk of giving you Sheryl Sandberg fatigue, here are my thoughts, good and bad, on Lean In.

Lean In, Chin Up and Tune Out

I’ve been thinking a lot about women and our place in society the last couple of weeks. This is appropriate, as it is Women’s History Month and was kicked off at PBS with “Makers,” a three-hour documentary on the “second-wave” women’s movement.I sat down to watch it last weekend and was enthralled. I am old enough to remember all the events portrayed in the film, but was too young at the time to grasp the significance of the earlier events. And while I happily recognize that we’ve “come a long way,” I am terribly sad and frustrated that we’re not even close to achieving true equality.

If we were truly equal, the fuss over Marissa Mayers’ no-telecommuting directive at Yahoo! would have been focused on the protests of ALL affected employees, instead of just the mothers. And Sheryl Sandberg would not have needed to advise young women to “Lean In” to get ahead in the workplace.

Let’s Lean In to Updating our Work Culture!

Sheryl Sandburg’s new book Lean In puts a spotlight on the shortage of women leaders in the work force. She underscores that motherhood is a time when many women get side tracked from their careers. She advises young women to “lean in” in order to stay on track, move up the hierarchy, and become leaders. Women who step back when they anticipate motherhood or are sidelined when they become pregnant are falling off the top career tracks.

At MomsRising, we celebrate mothers in leadership and value leaders like Sheryl who encourage and mentor other women to lead. This said, leaning in is not always possible, especially when work policies make it more challenging rather than less to meet responsibilities both at work and at home.

New Moms Can Lean In Too: Take Your Infant to Work

The volcanic national debate about women, work, and family erupts weekly these days, with Sheryl Sandberg’s much-anticipated book, Lean In, published yesterday, the news last week that Best Buy ended its flexible work-from-home ROWE initiative, and Marissa Mayer’s ban on remote working at Yahoo! the week before.

Teleworking Helps Mothers “Lean In”

This story originally appeared in Psychology Today.

National Telework Week buzzed about, ironically, bans on telecommuting. Last week, Best Buy announced the end of its work-at-home program known as ROWE (results-only-work-environment), on the heels of Yahoo’s ban on remote work a week before.

Then snowstorms hit the midwest and east coast, closing schools and businesses, and people turned to — you guessed it — teleworking to stay productive and safe. When the snow melts, will the backlash against teleworking continue? The temptation for companies to mimic one another always exists, but this one should be resisted. Here’s why.

The Census reports that in 2010,13.4 million people worked at home at least one day per week. This represented 9.4% of all U.S. workers and was an increase of 4.2 million over the previous decade.

As Women, We Are Our Own Best Source of Inspiration

For many of us moms, success is too often defined and driven by outside factors and interpretations of what and how we “should” do things. I just finished Sheryl Sandberg’s book which came out today and I think she perpetuates this view. She talks about leaning into a career by reaching for opportunities, taking a seat at the table, raising expectations, withstanding criticism and the like, but we are missing the conversation about finding success on your own terms.

 

The Facebook COO talks about an updated women’s movement and the ambition gap that is limiting women’s ability to advance in the workplace. But advance to what degree – the chief executive level? That is not the goal of millions of professional women. They are looking to be successful on their terms and to raise a family in a way that aligns with those terms. Her book is an interesting read and great for young women starting out and those who want to get to the top, but it really doesn’t speak to the other 99 percent of us not willing or able to approach work in the way Sheryl outlines.

 

Welcome to the Past: Best Buy Embraces Last Century Management Practices

Best Buy Co, Inc. has gone backwards in time, following the footsteps of Yahoo! and demanding all hands on deck. We’re certain that other organizations are going to stumble backwards as well over the next few weeks. When we heard the news, we weren’t surprised; as new management came on board over the past few years – management that obviously favors managing schedules over managing performance – the stronghold of outdated thinking became the weed that choked the evolution of the most enviable, productive, attractive and globally-forward workforce of the future.

Leaning Together: A MomsRising Blog Carnival

This week, traditional and new media outlets are abuzz with news about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. For once, the focus of the media is on workplace policies and practices that directly impact women and families. So we’re taking the tiger by the tail!

In celebration of all women, and of Women’s History Month, MomsRising is bringing you this blog carnival — scroll down to see all the posts — where you can read the diverse perspectives of many people about contemporary women’s equality. Whether you like Sandberg’s new Lean In book (and concept) or despise it: It’s long past time to discuss women’s equality in the workplace and what still needs to be done. “Lean In,” “Lean Up,” “Lean Down,” or just plain “Lean,” it’s going to take all of us, leaning together, to build a better nation for women and families.

*So please take a moment to scroll down, check out the insightful, fact-filled blogs below, and enjoy! And then “Lean” with us as we take action!

Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer: ‘Lean In’ and Get Your Butt to the Office!

This blog post originally appeared in PunditMom.

Lean in! Take charge! No fear!

Out with flex-time! In with face time!

These are the messages two of the highest-profile working mothers in America are sending to the rest of us. If Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, and Marissa Mayer, Yahoo!’s Chief Executive Officer, have their way, women in the workplace will remake themselves in their C-Suite images which, sadly, is looking like something from the 1980′s movie Working Girl. Their sentiments sound an awful lot like what I heard as a young journalist and then as a new attorney in a large law firm decades ago. Is this a case of “what’s old is new again?”

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