From Panera Bread to the Boardroom: Two Moms Collaborate to Empower Women

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Three years ago, I was a part of a small social media team that was covering the NY Business Expo Summit in New York City. After several hours of busily typing soundbites of some of the brightest minds in Social Media, I sauntered to the nearest lavatory where I was approached by Dr. Hilary S. Berger, Ed.D of Work Like a Mother®. She was fascinated with the speed at which I was typing and covering the event and asked me if I could help her hone her skills.

Not too long after the event we met in a Panera Bread in New York City to discuss the possibility of working with one another. As we were sharing our backgrounds and journeys as mothers, we realized we both had a passion for seeing women thrive. We spent most of our time talking about what we might be able to accomplish together someday. These lofty wishes were wrapped up in us being able to provide programs, events, and workshops that could assist women who have lost their way with a way to become relevant again through unique learning opportunities- an academy of sorts.

Some three years later, I am happy to say that academy was launched in 2015 as the Work Like a Mother® Career Academy for Social Media and Job Search Training. I came aboard as a social media and personal branding instructor. In 2016, we are collaborating in a more formal fashion to create new programming and provide the next iteration of the Work Like a Mother® Career Academy for Social Media and Job Search Training.

Our first collaboration is a program that was one of my proudest achievements for 2015- my Talent Think Social Circle Virtual Mentorship Teleclass ™. I launched this program with an idea, shoestring budget and blind faith from October through December of 2015 following the conclusion of the academy and it was a success.

Class “Usie” after my Art of Personal Branding and Social Media Workshop.

 

With the interest and support of Work Like a Mother®, my program has an extended lifeline and has grown into a multi-level program serving two separate needs for the women we serve:

1) Some women just want to re-enter the workforce. As such, their primary interest is in enhancing their skills and building the confidence needed to become a marketable candidate in an ever-difficult and selective job market.

2) In complete contrast to the previous example, there are women who have ideas for businesses they want to launch and need a place where they can incubate and grow those ideas into businesses. They too require some up-skilling and coaching to get there and we want to serve that need as well.

Who better to nurture women who have either of these needs than two mothers/business women that understand and empathize with their journeys. Corporate America isn’t checking for them and certainly hasn’t made much progress in ensuring the career mobility and flexibility of women, so we are tackling it in the only way we know- through education and coaching.

WLAM Open House

Work Like a Mother Open House (1.15.16)

 

You may be thinking what does this have to do with Human Resources?

On the surface, probably not anything. Let’s dive a little deeper though. When I worked in HR, I recognized that people could skip along all day creating policies and procedures without any care or concern for how it impacts the workforce. We were keeping the organization compliant and that is necessary. However, I often wondered if things would be different if Human Resources could function in a truly altruistic manner. My HR buddy, Dave Ryan shared something rather profound in a recent blog post. The post titled: “A Utopian Workplace”drove home an important consideration which is: “it is hard for HR to create a utopian society in the way everyone expects when society has yet to right certain human wrongs. I have to agree and I believe one of the things we have screwed up left and right is how women are regarded and treated in the workplace. More disturbingly is how women who choose to become mothers are often displaced and forgotten. While my collaboration has really nothing to do with HR directly, indirectly Hilary and I are attempting to triage the ills of society from the outside-in-with the hope that these women can thrive and succeed in the way that is most meaningful for them.

If you are interested in learning more about our programs, go to: http://worklikeamother.com/Mentorship.html.  In addition, if you are interested in featuring us on your blog, publication, podcast etc. to discuss our work we would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with you.

Here’s a little more insight on Dr. Hilary S. Berger, Ed.d and Work Like a Mother® worth knowing:

Dr. Hilary S. Berger, Ed.D. is the founder of Work Like a Mother®  and is a Career Counselor and Board Certified Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor who earned her Doctoral Degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College. With office locations in Fairfield County Connecticut, Dr. Berger has pioneered a solution oriented career counseling system designed exclusively for educated mothers at home raising their families. She has counseled women in transition both in university settings and in private practice for over twenty years.  Work Like a Mother®, a thriving and dynamic community for mothers, is a one stop shop for mothers rebuilding their professional relevance and marketability during and after their parenting years.

Helping Moms Get Their Career Mojo Back

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Unless you are fortunate enough to have women in your family who will share with you the impact of the inevitable decisions you will make both as a mother and a professional; you would have no clue about the difficult choices that lie ahead – when and if you take that leap. Amidst lackluster maternity leave, pay equity issues, real and perceived concerns of upward mobility among other factors, many women can find themselves feeling inadequate, overwhelmed and discouraged. Not to mention, that we can still see glimmers of the ongoing feud of who does it better: stay-at-home-moms or working moms – which presents another unnecessary layer of guilt. I would wager that we all are doing our best. We shoulder much more responsibility than we are given credit and the policies and practices of bigger business have not caught up with the reality of the average woman.

When I wrote about #EqualPayDay back in April, I asked a single question and sort of pointed the finger at employers by asking: what will they do differently now that “equal pay” is a prominent discussion? It was an important question to ask, because we are so easily moved to superficial action in the name of the latest salacious headline or social catastrophe of the day. As such, I wanted to remind employers that when #EqualPayDay, National Women’s Suffrage Day, Mother’s Day and any other consumerist holiday is over and the hashtags have stopped trending that there is a human that must continue on in obscurity trying to make sense of finances, life, family, identity and career in a society that simply has no place for them.

Sounds grim, but this is the reality of many women who have made a very natural decision to have children. In this process, many of us moms have loss a sense of self while performing one of the most benevolent jobs known to humanity. I had aspirations of climbing the ladder, grappling for a title and reaping the rewards of a decent salary. I chose motherhood and suddenly climbing that ladder had extra rungs that I never saw before childbirth and that decent salary seemed further and further in the distance. I bowed out, but not completely.

There have been glimmers of hope, like the announcement by IBM last week that they will ship breast milk home for traveling mothers free of charge. Still, so many other companies don’t understand or get the magnitude of the reality I have just illustrated and so women have to consider other career options.

You see we are in a time where you don’t have to live in obscurity. Becoming a mom doesn’t have to limit your personal and career growth. In fact, if your career has been at a standstill the problem isn’t your employer -it is you. Social Media and this new reality of global connectedness allows you to create your career reality. If you need to work for someone else, you can do it. If you want to start a business, you can do that. If you have always had a knack for writing, you can pursue that and be recognized. All of these options are possible because we are our own brand ready to be cultivated and marketed in the right setting for a specific purpose.

We all have a purpose. Women deserve to continue with their careers or shift gears if need be. Becoming a mother shouldn’t have to be an all or nothing endeavor. This is why I am so happy to be working with Dr. Hilary Berger, Founder of Work Like a Mother. She was one of my initial clients when I decided to launch my business a few years ago and now two years later I am partnering with her through her Work Like a Mother Career Academy to help some very deserving women get their career mojo back.

Through this academy, our participants will have everything updated from their resumes to their knowledge of how to use social media for personal branding and jobseeking purposes. I am so excited and honored to be in a position to help brilliant women discover their passions and further their careers. If this academy puts a small dent in the number of women who have lost their way in motherhood, I will feel like I have made a difference.

I will be teaching three courses over the next three months that will hopefully open the minds of my fellow mommies and help them get their career mojo back. Follow our workshops via the #wlmacademy hashtag.

If you feel compelled, send a kind word or words of encouragement to our academy participants to let them know they are already headed in the right direction.

 

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