A few years ago I was working as an executive at a major company. I was two months pregnant at the time, so I hadn’t told anyone yet. One day I was called into my boss’ office and promptly fired. Although I wasn’t fired for performance reasons — the company was going through a management shakeup — I had no idea what to do.
So I found myself in this awkward position of having to look for another job while trying to conceal my pregnancy. I really wanted to know about maternity policies and workplace flexibility (among other things!), but I was afraid that if I asked about questions related to these topics, hiring managers would see me as uncommitted to my work and wouldn’t hire me. I decided to go online and look for more information about the companies I was interviewing with. I tried looking into their maternity leave policies, if they offered flexible work environment, and if they prioritized gender equality, but I couldn’t find anything on the existing job websites. Although those platforms provided useful details about the companies, they weren’t tailored to female candidates, which is why I started Fairygodboss.
When I started Fairygodboss I was still pregnant with my second child, so I was essentially taking on the challenge of trying to create and build a company with a newborn on my hands. That said, being your own boss means you get to determine your own work schedule to a certain extent, so I was able to achieve a certain level of flexibility that I hadn’t had at my previous job.
While there’s no formula that works for everyone, after some trial and error I’ve learned that for me the key to balancing work and home life is ruthless prioritization. To help make sure I’m giving my full attention to the task at hand, I really rely on my calendar and build in time for not just meetings, but things like deep thinking, working out, and of course, having my evening to spend with my family. Of course, being a co-founder means you never truly leave work at work, but creating stricter boundaries between work and home life has allowed me to stay focused and be truly present wherever I am.
Fast forward to today and Fairygodboss is the largest female career community where highly motivated and authentic women can connect with other career-minded individuals to share real-life experiences and help one another to succeed. Our platform supports women in their careers through free resources like company reviews, job listings, virtual recruiting events and a community where users can be honest about their triumphs and failures either as themselves or anonymously — something I wish I had a few years ago when I was going through my own career transition.
Our mission is to improve the workplace for women. But, we don’t want to just touch the lives of a small group of women or help employers in any one industry improve their culture and benefits. Ultimately, we want to reach the hundreds of millions of women around the globe who are in the workforce and working for hundreds of thousands of employers.
When I was looking for a job while I was pregnant, I couldn’t ask important questions without feeling like I would face bias, assumptions and judgment. Women shouldn’t have to choose between building a family and a fulfilling career. By creating more transparency about benefits and how mothers are treated in the workplace with Fairygodboss, I hope fewer women have to make that choice, but instead can have and succeed in both.