PowerToFly President Katharine Zaleski’s self-confessional piece in Fortune has caused quite the stir among men and women alike. Titled, “I’m sorry to all the mothers I worked with,” the article is a mea culpa for the author’s horrific treatment of working moms in the earlier part of her career. It’s also a redemption tale that shares Zaleski’s epiphany after becoming a mom herself. Last, but certainly not least, the final third of her column which, many believe, reads like a blatant advertisement for the author’s company has set off a firestorm of protest.
Before I weigh-in with my evaluation of the article, I want to go on record as saying I’ve never doubted the abilities, capabilities and commitment of the working moms at my firm. That’s because I’ve experienced them first-hand. Not only do our working moms balance their jobs and responsibilities flawlessly, many have risen to assume very senior positions. I believe that speaks for itself.
And, yet, I must admit a pocket of antediluvian thinking remains. Not too long ago, for example, a working mother at another firm told me she was leaving at 5:30 in order to arrive home in time to take her son to a doctor’s appointment. As she passed the office of a senior male executive, he asked: “Half day?” She was understandably upset since, in addition to taking her son to an appointment, she’d be editing three proposals that night. But, she let it pass.
While there are always exceptions to any rule, I believe working moms (and dads for that matter) should be afforded the same respect, pay and professional courtesy as their single peers. As for Zaleski’s column, it’s nothing more than a heavy-handed attempt to suck in sympathetic readers and then hit them over the head with a hard sell. I’d call her devious and deceptive, but Zaleski’s motives are too obvious to even deserve those left-handed compliments.