Friday, October 19, 2012

WAFE Panel, Can Women Have it All?

(FYI-- This post was written before the program Morning Joe spread the word about Hillary Clinton's comments)

Wednesday I attended a luncheon presented by WAFE, Women’s Alliance for Financial Education.  Along with some great networking with other women from all over the region, there was a panel of women who spoke to the question, “Can Women Have It All?”

This conversation was prompted somewhat by a recent article posted on The Atlantic website by Anne-Marie Slaughter, Why Women Still Can't Have It All.

Can we? 

The feeling from the group at the end of the discussion seemed to be that we are not quite there yet.  Maybe women have tempered their expectations in recent years but we are still far behind where we want to be in regards to our professional combined with “motherhood” lives.

The panelist were Meredith Fuchs, Kathy Korman Frey, Frederique Irwin and Marissa Levin.  Each had their own view of were women stand and what it means to “Have It All.”

It was a great discussion.  Each of these women appear to be very successful both professionally and personally.  It was quite motivating to hear their thoughts.

Here are some of the gems I picked up from the conversation.

--The number one thing women want is support at home.
--Companies that have a formal program in place to promote women into leadership roles are more financially profitable (yippe).
--The number one factor in success for a young girl is a good role model.
--Family support is critical in a young girl’s success.
--Work life balance is one of the top 3 concerns of Generation Y and the Millennium generation.
--The United States has a strong culture for women entrepreneurs and this is really good.

Dawn Wilson, the moderator summed up the discussion with these points.

We have come a long way but we have further to go.

Support at home is critical.

There is no cookie cutter way to reach your own success.

Support from the government will help make changes.

Women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are few and far between.  For those who want to achieve this, it can be done.  And, for some mothers, this is not a real definition of success.  First we each have to define what success means to us, then set about achieving it.

A second step might be to start promoting a work/life balance by being honest with ourselves and our employees.  It is okay to want to be with your kids and family.  It is okay to be late to work or leave early to make family your #1 priority.  If we start telling people that family is important and we SHOW that our family is important by making these choices, maybe then our society (and government) will begin to see that family is important. 

If you ask any of my employees what is important to me, they are going to tell you my family.  They know because I am constantly doing things that show this is my priority.  My husband and my kids come first.  Does that mean I comprise on my job and my company? Yes, but I also work a great deal to make up for the time I am not focused on FAMILY Magazine.  I work weekends, mornings and nights.  It is not uncommon to see an email from me at 4AM.  But if my husband is leaving on one of his frequent out of town trips, I drive him to the airport (a great tradition we have).  I love giving him that goodbye kiss to remind him why he needs to hurry home.

Remember one of the success factors for young girls?  Role models.  We need to be role models to the rest of society.  Show people your family is important.

Walk the walk and talk the talk.  After all, it really is all about FAMILY.  In the end you won't be waving money or a fancy title from your death bed.  You might want to have your family around you so you know you have left the world a better place.

For me, the key to this is really defining your own definition of success. If I have the end in mind, perhaps you can map out how to get there.  If I don’t know where I want to go, how can I create the plan and follow the map?

As they say in the musical South Pacific, “You have to have a dream to have a dream come true.” 


Note:  While I was researching links for this post I discovered a pair of interesting articles. You really need to read both of these articles if are interested in this topic.  Very interesting.....hummm

Profile of Hillary Clinton by Ayelet Waldman on the Marie Claire website posted on Thursday.

I discovered the profile of Ms. Clinton after clicking on a link on The Atlantic that was promoted with these words:  Hillary Clinton Is Tired of Having the 'Having It All' Debate

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