Moms know a thing or two (or 17!) about getting stuff done. Nothing besides motherhood can give a person the unique and useful skillset that’s finely honed throughout years of juggling multiple schedules, figuring budgets, keeping up with the minutiae, and remembering all the things — while simultaneously being deeply invested in the happiness, health, and wellbeing of the people they’re managing. And they typically do it all while running on a deficit of sleep and self-care, which is nothing short of amazing. Not that they should operate on next-to-nothing; the point is just that moms are astonishingly capable and resilient.
Unfortunately, these near-superhuman capabilities aren’t widely recognized in the professional world (thanks a bunch, patriarchy!). You won’t find “mom” on many résumés, simply because it’s never been deemed impressive enough. Handling the daily drudgery has always just been an expectation, with few people actively noticing that we moms are the titanium cogs that keep the machine running smoothly.
As a working mom herself, Jessica Alba knows this firsthand, and she discussed it candidly while speaking at Fairchild Media Group’s Women in Power event in New York City on September 13. Chief creative officer and founder of multi-million dollar brand The Honest Company, Alba has dealt with her fair share of busting the ridiculous myth that moms somehow aren’t as valuable in the workplace, noting that she encountered it from the very beginning of her business.
“[T]he first guys that I started the company with just kept saying that there’s no women who want to work when they have kids,” she revealed in a Q&A session at the event. Alba was floored by this notion, because she found the exact opposite to be true. “I actually wanted to create an entire business, inspired by having kids,” she said. “Like, there’s something about having kids that made me want to work even harder.”
” . . . There’s something about having kids that made me want to work even harder.”
Not only that, but Alba swears that moms are model employees, too. “[W]ith more purpose, I would say that moms are the most efficient workers too. They can multitask; the work is just so buttoned up and clean,” she said, adding that she’s always found moms to be the most reliable and responsible type of employees.
So why, then, would anyone ever think that moms “don’t want to work”? Alba nailed it in the Q&A: it all comes down to burnout. Women leave the workforce because they’re tired of being overlooked and underestimated.
“It’s not because they’re not motivated after they have kids,” she said. “It’s that they’ve had kids, they’ve been in [the same] role for 568 years. And they see all these young guys getting promoted all up around, even though they put in all the hours and their work is quality.” On top of the “exhaustion of not being seen and heard,” Alba noted, “[Women are] still getting paid 86 cents to the $1. That’s why women fall out, because they just … they’re done.” Which is why she also said she would love to employ “three women for every guy that I see.”
It isn’t about pushing men out of the narrative, Alba insists; it’s about giving everyone an equal chance to collaborate and find solutions. “When you’re at a business conference, and you’re one of two women, do you ever hear a man say, ‘How do we not alienate women here?’ Never happens. When a man’s being interviewed, is he ever asked how does he balance being a dad? Never happens,” she said. “[S]o I think it’s just less about alienating and more about … hear us out.“
This isn’t the first time that Alba has talked about how parallels between motherhood and business have shown up in her work with The Honest Company. “It actually reminds me a lot of raising kids: When you think you’ve got it figured out, a whole other thing [happens], and you’re like, ‘Whoa, OK, here we go,’” she told CNBC in February.
When it comes to critical workplace contributions, it seems that moms have it in the bag. So the next time you’re up to your eyeballs in diapers or laundry or shuttling kids back and forth to extracurriculars, remember this: you’re not just doing the thankless tasks that moms “should” do — you’re sharpening valuable skills through unparalleled experience. And you should never, ever, underestimate that.
Even when you’re famous, Mom Guilt is a thing, as these celebrity moms show.
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