Advice From Working Mothers
For many years, women have faced significant challenges in the workplace. They have struggled to advance their careers due to discriminatory practices, unequal pay, and a lack of access to opportunities. Additionally, women often face the difficult task of balancing work and family responsibilities, leading to a high burnout rate and limited career progression. However, supporting women in the workplace is essential to achieving gender equality and creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce. In recent years, there’s been an increase in women’s advancement in the workforce; women are switching jobs, demanding recognition, gender equality, and a better work-life balance.
Working mothers are a resilient group and make up a significant part of the labor force, accounting for nearly one-third (32%) of all employed women. (American Community Survey, ACS). The global pandemic forever changed how companies function, recruit, and retain staff. Women are jumping back into the workforce and are looking for companies with opportunity, flexibility, employee well-being, diversity, equity, and inclusion. If companies take action, they’ll avoid losing a new generation of women in leadership and the representation of women workplace.
This blog will explore the importance of supporting women in the workplace, focusing on career progression and balancing work and family. At Wiss, we have excellent programs and a culture that supports family life; from our flexible-hybrid schedule to family-leave policies and a cultural acceptance that family needs will always come first.
Life Before Motherhood
What did you do before you became a mother?
Tara: I provided bookkeeping service and taught small business owners how to use QuickBooks. I also did personal financial coaching for recently divorced women who had never paid a bill, teaching them about mortgages, escrow, and budgeting.
Meena: I started my career in public accounting before moving to private accounting and working with small businesses. I also did some consulting.
Kathy: I worked for a computer company doing sales contracts administration and then corporate policies and procedures, and reseller administration.
Lori: I started my career working in commercial lending in NYC for 10 years. I stayed home with my children for the first few years and then started doing bookkeeping and financial work with small businesses locally. I was introduced to Carolyn Hall and was fortunate to be offered the opportunity to work in the outsourced accounting group, which was much smaller at that time.
Life At Wiss
What is your current role at Wiss?
Tara: I am a paraprofessional in the AST team within advisory.
Meena: I work in CFO Advisory and Transaction Services
Kathy: I work in Growth Stage Outsourced Accounting, handling High Net Worth Individuals. I manage bookkeeping, personal bills, reports, tax documents and various individualized tasks for my clients.
Lori: I’m in the Advisory Group, specifically the AST group. We do a lot of outsourced accounting, and I do everything from tax, bookkeeping, financial statements, etc.
Returning To Work After Motherhood
How was your transition back to work? What was challenging?
Tara: Going back to work was very challenging because it wasn’t something I was used to. I was the main driver for sports and extracurricular activities, so I wasn’t always available to get on a call, but everyone had a bit more respect, knowing I had a tight schedule.
Meena: Honestly, Wiss made that transition seamless for me on some level. The hardest part was realizing I was accountable for something I take very seriously, so the hardest thing for me was living up to what I perceived and expected of me once I came back into the workforce, which was my work ethic. I didn’t want people to think I was slacking off because I was picking up my kids. So, I had to find my balance and make sure I fulfilled my obligation.
Kathy: I had a great experience! But, I did not work for 23 years. I was a stay-at-home mom for 23 years, and when I came to Wiss, all the technology was foreign to me; everything was completely new. I started part-time, 20 hours per week, and eventually increased my hours from 20 to 30, but it wasn’t because anyone asked me to. It was what I wanted because I wanted to do the job well. I had flexibility if needed, and I’ve always felt supported by my team.
Lori: I lived around the corner from the office, so I’d work until the last second and bolt to the bus to pick my daughter up. My biggest challenge coming to Wiss was that I was not a CPA and didn’t have an accounting degree. My degree is in finance and economics, and even though I’d taken many accounting classes in college, I had to refamiliarize myself and adapt to new software. Getting used to that was a challenge at first, but I had great, patient people with whom I worked, allowing me time to adapt and adjust as things changed in my life.
“I had great, patient people with whom I worked, allowing me time to adapt and adjust as things changed in my life.”
How has Wiss supported your career? How do you avoid mom burnout?
Tara: The flexibility of the hybrid schedule is really number one. Also, not being concerned about PTO allows more time for family events.
Meena: Wiss supported me through their people. There’s an amazing group of people at Wiss. No matter what was going on, I had the support from coworkers and management to put my family first.
Kathy: For me, the learning curve was huge. Everyone was very patient. The support I received gave me the confidence to take chances and risk making mistakes. I’ve always raved about Wiss because I love the people I work with. I felt very comfortable and wouldn’t have expected that after taking so much time off. I have access to experts for any problem, and excellent training options are always available. The job, the people, and the culture all helped to bring about positive changes in my life. The atmosphere was fun and supportive, and we had lots of perks! And I even started going back to the gym and yoga classes with my co-workers.
Lori: The family-first mentality really is true at Wiss. I have an aging mom who has been in and out of the hospital, and I feel very, very fortunate to work here because I work with an incredibly supportive team. We all back each other up. Wiss also supports us by sending us to conferences and training, which helps in that endeavor.
“There’s an amazing group of people at Wiss. No matter what was going on, I had the support from coworkers and management to put my family first.”
What advice would you give to a mother who is about to rejoin the workforce?
Tara: “Be organized, and don’t feel guilty! You’re doing it for yourself, and your children will see that you’re using your mind and skills and are happy.”
Meena: “Don’t do it until you’re ready. If you don’t think you can do it full-time, then don’t. It really depends on whether or not you’re going back to work because financially you have to, or you’re going back to work because you just want to work. If it’s something you have to do, then, you know, just try the balance and make sure you are upfront with your employers from day one. But, if you have the luxury of looking for the ideal job, I’d say wait it out until you find the right place for you and your situation.”
Kathy: “Don’t be afraid! Find a place where you feel a connection. I was very open about how I felt, and in the right situation, it really does go both ways. When you feel supported, you want to give 110 percent, and you are then able to be your best. You’re more competent than you think, and you may be surprised by how willing people are to help you learn.”
Lori: “Be very open and honest about what you are looking for. When I started here, I worked 18 hours a week and was very clear about setting those boundaries. But, also be open and honest when things change and you want to take on more because it’s there if you want it. I feel very fortunate to have landed in a place that was supportive and open. It’s a two-way street; I get my work done, I support my clients, and there’s always someone I can rely on if needed. I’m so fortunate to have and be in a culture that is as supportive as this is.”
“When you feel supported, you want to give 110 percent, and you are then able to be your best. You’re more competent than you think, and you may be surprised by how willing people are to help you learn.”
Supporting working mothers and their return to the workforce after motherhood is essential to ensuring that women have equal opportunities to achieve their career goals while providing for their families. Despite facing significant challenges, such as a lack of affordable childcare and workplace discrimination, working mothers demonstrate remarkable strength and motivation in balancing work and family responsibilities. Wiss provides support through parental programs and a cultural acceptance that family needs will always come first. We recognize and value the contributions of working mothers and built our culture to reflect an inclusive and supportive workplace that benefits everyone.