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Thank You, Whitney, I Didn't Know How Badly I Needed That

This week I got to see you, Whitney Wolfe Herd, take Bumble public with your baby in your arms.

I saw you became the youngest self-made woman billionaire.

I was moved to tears.

I cry easily, but not THIS easily.

I have always admired hard working women and I have always gotten joy from seeing others' success.

The thing about this moment is that it invited so much to the surface.

They heralded you the youngest female CEO to go public and I looked on with the deepest gratitude for what must have taken so much resolve. I thought about how much bullsh*t you must have experienced along the way. I found myself wondering if you still deal with it now.

How many meetings in your career were you talked over?

How many times were you objectified or scrutinized for the way you look?

How many times did you have your ideas stolen and used by men as their own?

Did you ever feel like you would have to chose between getting this far or getting to have a family?

I looked on and thought about how much this moment must mean to you.

Then I thought about how much this moment means to us.

You have found a way to "have it all" ...To have made all of your dreams come true. You have built something from the ground up, made it to the billions bracket, and you have also chosen motherhood and all that comes with it.

I realized that I have not seen headlines about fathers holding their babies in their arms while they took their companies public and paused....headlines are headlines because people decide that they are newsworthy.

Is the newsworthiness here the fact that you have done it? The fact that you have somehow, against all odds, and strategic barriers placed in your way, managed to rear a child and accumulate wealth simultaneously?

I have watched people post on LinkedIn and Twitter that you are the proof that this is possible.

I thank you for being the hope.

Still, I find myself curious about these headlines.

Shouldn't they say...

"Whitney Wolfe Herd takes Bumble public Amidst Global Economic Toll on Women Due to COVID-19. "

What has to change so that a woman achieving financial independence and a family at once isn't an anomaly?

I believe you are doing your part to chip away at the status quo. 73% of your board is made up of women and your management team is 53% women as well.

I am waiting for other companies and other CEOs to up their bar.

Rather than posting the picture of you holding your baby, heralding you the encouragement all girls need to keep up the fight, might leaders instead adopt more flexible policies that will make it possible for working mothers to not only keep their jobs but thrive in them?

There are statistics we are aware of. Where are the action steps on the part of employers so that girls may actually have a better chance of one day standing in your shoes?

  • Women tend to earn less for the same work men do. What does pay parity look like when most women are being's just not in the budget this year?

  • Women are disproportionately more in the informal economy. How might employers step up to provide access to child care and other critical resources?

  • Women are more likely to be burdened with unpaid care and domestic work, and therefore have had to drop out of the labor force (No more true, than it is right now in response to COVID-19.) What might retention efforts look like?

I am 32 and I don't have kids of my own..I want them... and wonder if it will be in my cards or not. Somewhere deep down I think I have always felt like I would have to choose....achieve my professional dreams, or get to have kids. The implicit message came from somewhere.

Most of my friends do have them. They are all in middle management or scraping the entryway of the C-Suite. Some have accepted that they will never make partner because it is frowned upon once you have kids, and others have tried to create strategic side hustles that would afford them an income and still be able to breast feed. Some run single parent households on their one income and struggle every day just to get by.

Most have supportive husbands who love them and want them to be happy. Most have respected their decision to stay home if they wanted to, or collaborated on parenting tactics if they did want to go back to work.

This isn't an asshole husband issue or a house by house issue. It isn't even a workplace by workplace issue.

Having worked as a Career Guide for more than 2050 people in the last 9 months, I cannot tell you how many women are terrified to have to explain "the gap" in their resume where they took time to raise children. How many are afraid they wont be able to get back at all after being the primary care taker during this whole pandemic?

Highly qualified, incredible women apologizing and agonizing over how to justify their own credibility.

I am tired of working with women to come up with a coded narrative that is palatable to a CEO during the interview process.

I want to connect women to CEOs who are proud to ask better questions instead.

It's time to go public with that call to action.

Decision makers, employers, recruiters, hirining managers, gatekeepers...what will you do to bring, and keep, qualified women in the roles they deserve while respecting their right to have a family?

If your workplace is doing something to make it possible for women to choose their health, wealth, and family at once, we need to let folk know where to go.

Let's tell the stories of employers who are thinking about what it takes to build a world where Whitney is surrounded by other women billionaires holding their babies.

Whitney, you proved that it IS it is up to the rest of the world's CEOs, decision makers and power weilders to make it PROBABLE.

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