What the Slow Progress of Accommodating Working Mothers Has Taught Us

May 14, 2019

Victoria Rosselli

Victoria Rosselli is an Art Director in Chicago. She’s visually driven and fueled by design. She stands for an inclusive world and carries this through in every campaign she touches.

Mother’s Day was last weekend  ̶  where we celebrated all the motherly figures in our life. Nowadays, we’re seeing moms in c-suite positions, comfortably breast-feeding in the office, creating award-winning work, and having a work/life balance. Look at Leo Burnett, whose lactation lounge was voted the best in the country by Working Mother. This progress makes me feel confident about becoming a mother one day.
However, the industry has made slow progress in providing mothers with paid leave and accommodating their needs in the workplace. Progress at the speed of a turtle race. 

This got me thinking about an issue that affects mothers and non-mothers alike: work flexibility is not taken into consideration. 
In this day and age, we’re getting pressure from all ends. Get eight hours of sleep each night. Go to the gym five times per week. Meditate. Spend quality time with family and friends. All of these expectations have one caveat: forgo all of these responsibilities to make award-winning work.
Every other Monday I have a 5:30pm therapy appointment. As I get up from my desk at 5pm, I try not to be seen as I scurry out the door, feeling guilty for leaving at a normal time to take care of my mental health. It’s funny how I say “normal time.” That’s because we’re expected to be “on” 24/7. Readily available at our desk for any sudden client ask to be tackled at the snap of a finger.
The formality of this industry is hindering our creativity and well-being. What kind of example are we setting for the next generation about work/life balance? In school, I was taught that the best ideas are thought outside of your desk, away from your blue-lit screen. If you work from home one day because you have a migraine, people assume you’re just hungover, allowing the paranoia to make your migraine worse. 

There are days where I want to be able to concept in the comfort of my home without feeling judged and frowned upon for leaving the office at 2pm. If I’m meeting deadlines and providing innovative work, why does it matter if it’s being done in the office or surrounded by Impressionist paintings at the Art Institute?
Everyone’s time outside of work is equally important regardless of responsibility. Mothers and non-mothers. A flexible work-life culture is achieved starting at the top of the ladder to set the example. Remember that flexibility is individualized. It’s not skipping meetings or working less; it’s working comfortably and productively.

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