I am a single mother with a demanding job. I love my job and I want to be successful at it. It calls for being able to stay focused and mentally available all day long, regular overseas trips, cope with stress and it rarely stops. I have a 6y old daughter and I care for her most of the time.
You need to live the challenge of not being in the norm (whatever the norm is in a given company, location, environment or industry) to fully comprehend it. It is fun, awkward and sometime frustrating and overwhelming. Being too often the only woman at the table. Being the only divorced person in the room in some parts of the world where people introduce themselves as happily married with beautiful kids and a dog. Having to be back home at fixed times, cook dinner, check the schoolwork, organize the logistics and the nannies and manage the unexpected on the spot. I felt like superwoman on the day a colleague – who had to take care of his kids on his own for a couple of weeks – told me that “this is not compatible with work”.
Progressing diversity (all kinds of diversity) at work is a complex topic. Things are changing slowly despite significant investments everywhere in training, awareness, new policies and labor laws etc. I believe that acknowledging the reality and challenges of being a woman or a member of any type of minority at work is the start. Open discussions and courageous leadership is making a real difference too.
Whenever I have to travel abroad for work, my mother is crossing France to come and take care of my daughter (even when the French railway is on strike and she has to spend 12 hours in a night bus to reach Paris). She makes it possible for me to have the career I want and that many men and too few women have. I can’t thank her enough.