On the 25th anniversary of the Working Mother Best Companies, we ask: Is success different for women?
Career versus family. Promotions versus Little League games. Ambition versus balance. Does it have to be an either/or proposition? For too many working moms, the answer is still yes. But at three Working Mother 100 Best Companies — Deloitte, Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers — the provocative question of what truly defines success for women is one that their leaders are asking everyday, and it’s providing answers that may impact employers nationwide. (See the 100 Best Companies selected by Working Mother, Diversity Best Practices' sister company.)
The question is so intriguing that Working Mother decided to ask its readers: How do you define success for yourself? Is it by the length of your title? The strength of your power? The value of your travel & expense budget?
For 200 Working Mother readers polled, the answer was much more nuanced than just titles and power. Readers told us that for them, success is built on three key factors: that their job is meaningful; that they earn enough money and have financial security; and that they have enough family time.
It’s not that we women don’t want or appreciate power, but as working moms we want it served up with a heap of family time and a dash of personal time as well. “Women tend to look at their lives more holistically,” says career and life coach Renee Trudeau, author of The Mothers Guide to Self Renewal. “Our male clients define success in terms of business and revenue, but women say, ‘I want more time with kids, or I want work that is more meaningful and fulfilling.’”
Notably, Working Mother readers reported that the most important thing that helps them be successful both at work and home is their employer’s flexibility policies. (As someone whose family just survived the crazy, upside-down schedule of two school-aged kids returning to school last week at different times of the day, I can say amen to that!)
In the end, defining success as a working mother is a very personal thing. As Andrea Carter, a mom of two and now a senior manager in Ernst & Young’s Houston office, explains in Working Mother's lead story this month, Success Redefined. “I can work ten-hour days, meet with dozens of clients and sign a three-million-dollar deal, but success is knowing that after I’ve accomplished all these great things, when I come home I’ve spent time having a family dinner and tucked my children in bed.”