BIPOC Editor's Pick The Drawing Board Women Who Lead

Motherhood and Work: 6 Mom Entrepreneurs on Moving Progress Forward

Silhouettes of women against coloured backgrounds

The Drawing Board is a series by Bay Street Bull that surveys industry leaders on topics of transformation, innovation, and the road ahead.

It goes without saying that when it comes to running a business or simply work culture in general, women face an uphill battle of unique challenges that their male counterparts do not have to experience. Since the start of the pandemic, these issues have only been exasperated as childcare and household responsibilities have reached a boiling point and largely been placed on the shoulders of women who are juggling both work and family duties.

According to a 2021 international barometer on women’s entrepreneurship conducted by Veuve Clicquot, 62 percent of women polled believed that it is much more difficult for a woman to balance work and family life as an entrepreneur than a man. McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2021 report echoes similar findings, reporting that mothers are more than three times as likely as fathers to be responsible for most of the housework and caregiving during the pandemic—so much so that women who are employed full-time are often said to be working a “double shift.”

The pandemic has certainly taught us many lessons on what the future of work should look like but if we want to emerge stronger, it’s clear that women need to be at the center of Canada’s recovery efforts—and much of that focus must be on mothers.

From tech startups to lifestyle brands, we asked six founders about their experience building or leading their companies as mothers and their thoughts on how to continue moving the dial of progress.

Jen Rubio

Jen Rubio

Title: CEO, Away

What is the most surprising thing about motherhood that you didn’t expect going into it? 

On a daily basis, I’m surprised either by how much easier something is than I thought it would be or how much harder it was. Basically, everything I expected is not what it is. Sometimes I’m positively surprised and sometimes I’m a lot more challenged, but I think that’s part of it. In a way I’m enjoying it because very similar to my startup experience, this is my first child. I did not read any books about how to be a mother, I didn’t really take advice, even though it gets offered to you in spades. I’m just going with it. I have an incredible partner and our mothers have flown in to help at different times so there’s a lot of support. I think part of the excitement of the journey is, like a startup, you can’t plan for what your baby’s going to be like or what he’s going to do every day. I think that’s actually mentally prepared me a lot for how I’m going to raise him.

How has motherhood changed the way you think about running a business? 

There were two life-changing things that happened before I stepped into [my role as CEO]: having a baby and the pandemic. I think even just one of those things would radically change how a leader thinks about leading a company. I do think there is this myth, especially in the startup world, that to be successful, the only thing you can think about is your business and you’re not allowed to be passionate or spend time on other things or be deeply involved or vocal about anything else. Admittedly, that is how I operated for at least the first few years of building Away. Would it have turned out differently if I wasn’t like that? Would it have grown maybe not so quickly? I don’t know.

I think it was important for me when I took on the [CEO] role to not just say yes to being the one to run the business but to really think about what that means, what do I want that role to look like? What kind of leader do I want to be now? I always thought that I led with empathy and understanding but now I place more of an emphasis on the work that people are doing and the results that they’re driving versus how and when they’re doing it. I think more than ever, I see that success and results, it really doesn’t matter if somebody has to take a couple of hours off in the middle of the day to pick up their kids or if someone likes to work really late at night or really early in the morning. I think before there was such an emphasis on the one right way to work. I’m really happy to be moving away from that.

What is missing when we have these conversations around supporting moms in the workplace? Where do you think progress needs to be made? How do you think workplaces can better support moms in general? 

I think the first and most important thing is just taking a look at your policies and how flexible they are. Away has a very generous and flexible paid parental leave for all new parents. So not just moms but also dads and adoptive parents, too. I think it’s really important if you’re in a position where you can impact these things, that you do. In the US, only 20 percent or so of workers have access to paid family leave. This is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and we don’t have any federally mandated paid family leave, even though in half of two-parent families, both parents work. What this does, in the long run, is it deeply impacts how women grow in their careers, the choices that they have to make that are placed sometimes on them, but not on the father. People making these policies in workplaces have a real responsibility because we don’t have that federal mandate to create those policies themselves.

I also think leaders should really lead by example. Take your leave, be visible about it, and let your team know how you’re balancing the needs of your personal life with that of the business. I think that goes back to managers letting results speak for themselves and being more results-oriented versus trying to dictate the way that people do work. In the long term, what’s important for long-lasting change is increased visibility of women in positions of leadership. The more of that there is, the more it starts to become normalized and not such a crazy thing.

I told an acquaintance I was taking on the CEO role and the first thing he said back to me was, “but you’re about to have a baby?” And this is someone who’s known me or been in my circle for a long time. We still have to reframe that thinking. There are definitely implications towards motherhood and life changes that we need to evolve in order to improve things for everyone.

What are some misconceptions about motherhood and entrepreneurship that you think need to be dismantled based on your experience so far? 

When people talk about doing both (motherhood and entrepreneurship) it’s great. They talk about compartmentalizing everything very neatly. So, you have your work time, you have your mom time. Maybe you go back to work time when the babies sleep. I think it fed into this idea that I had for myself that I would be able to plan my days, and within those certain times, I would be able to only think about the thing I was supposed to be thinking about. Honestly, it was very, very hard for me in the beginning because my son, being premature, spent a lot of the time in the NICU, which by the way is one of the hardest places to be ever. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through, but a lot of the time, you’re just sitting in the room and your newborn is sleeping, and there are just machines beeping and nothing to do. You’re just sad and kind of sitting there. I would find myself checking into work because that’s something that makes me happy and gives me energy. I want to know what was going on there. But as I was doing it, I felt a sense of guilt—is it terrible that I’m checking my work email when I’m in the NICU? No one’s making me do it, I’m doing it on my own choice.

We had a big meeting the other day. I was hearing noises upstairs so I kept checking the baby monitor on my phone. I thought to myself, am I a bad CEO that I’m not 100 percent here and present because I really want to see what’s going on on the baby monitor? And I feel like women are so hard on themselves about that. Obviously, you should try to be present and focused, but it doesn’t make you a bad person if there are other things in your life pulling you in a different direction. So I guess to answer your question, the big misconception is that you can do both [at the same time.] There are only a certain number of minutes in a day, and in a single minute you could be thinking about multiple things.

A lot of times, the conversation around motherhood and working moms has placed the responsibility or burden of moving the conversation forward on women. How do you think men can do a better job of supporting working moms? 

My husband and I are in a very unique position where we’re both CEOs of very valuable companies. We both took parental leave a few months into my leave. I was in a very different mental state than I was right after we had the baby. I said to him that I really miss work. This is a really pivotal time for the company and I had planned to take a bit of a longer leave but there are some things that I want to jump back into and get involved in. We had a talk about me going back from my leave early and him extending his leave. I just think that’s just such a powerful example of finding that balance at home and in the workplace and the responsibility. We had the conversation and decided that he would extend his leave. That, to me, was just such an incredible example of how parental leave policies need to be equal, and partners also need to be afforded the same policies and allowances that mothers have because we need that support.

Essentially, this is a conversation that comes back to misogyny. If paternal leave isn’t granted to new dads, then the burden often falls on women and prevents them from advancing in their careers. What can employers do to support new dads as well as moms? 

Visibility is important. I think it was very important for my husband as CEO of Slack to take his leave, to tell people to be vocal about it so that others in more junior roles within his organization know that, not only is it okay, but it’s encouraged and you should take it and take on the responsibilities at home. Also, something that has been really alarming is the number of women who have had to leave their jobs due to the pandemic because children were at home and weren’t going to school. There were childcare issues and the default answer was for women to pause what they were doing and handle that. I think it’s very deeply ingrained in our society and our culture. The more examples of successful people doing it, the better.

How would you like to redefine motherhood or add to how we understand and define it today, if at all? 

This is less about motherhood and more about women understanding what their choices are between their bodies and their careers. I’m really excited to see numerous new companies pop up that are about women’s health, fertility, and getting a better sense of what that looks like for each person. Talking about freezing your eggs or waiting to get pregnant was so taboo for so long and now we’re coming out of that. There are so many more resources out there to help women. We’re so lucky to have all of this now. As a woman, if you work for a company that supports you in this, you can be a mother and take leave and not have it affect your career. But also, if you want to delay it a lot, there are a lot of workplaces now that support fertility decisions. All of that is very exciting to me.

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Title: CEO and co-founder, Willful; co-chair at #Tech4SickKids

What is your primary responsibility at your job?

At Willful I lead our mission to ensure every Canadian has an up-to-date will. In my role as co-chair at #Tech4SickKids I lead the effort to raise $25 million for a new emergency room at SickKids Hospital.

What is the most surprising thing about motherhood that you didn’t expect going into it? 

I know it sounds cliché but I was surprised at just how instantly I was absolutely in love with our daughter, and how she instantly became the most important thing in my life. I have always been very career-focused, so I worried at times that I would struggle with balancing both things (being an entrepreneur and a mom) but becoming a mom has been the absolute best journey, and I’m finding ways to balance both of my babies.

How has motherhood changed the way you think about running a business? 

It’s caused me to be more strategic about how I spend my time. My days are now structured around ensuring I have time with our daughter, which means taking breaks to feed her, logging off earlier to spend time with her in the evening, and then finishing things up later in the evening when she’s in bed. And it’s also shifted how I prioritize. I’m very focused on high-value activities now, and I’m limiting the number of meetings I take. I’ve always worked hard, but now I want to ensure I work smart so I can be a present parent.

Are there any parallels between being a mother and running a company?

The unpredictability and the roller coaster of emotions! Every day at a startup is different, and your mood can swing wildly based on what’s happening in the company. Motherhood is the same—every day is different, and every week your child changes, so you have to be okay with things changing all the time. 

What is missing when we have these conversations around supporting moms in the workplace? Where do you think progress needs to be made? How do you think workplaces can better support moms in general? 

I have several peers in the startup space who have shared how much pressure they’ve felt from employers to return to work early. Even if there isn’t overt pressure, there’s a sense of silent guilt that comes along with taking maternity leave. There really is a sense even in 2022 that if we take time off to be a mother it’s at the expense of career growth, and it can be a cause of major stress. Don’t be the jerk that pressures a new mom to come back to work before she’s ready. In a remote world, companies should also allow for flexibility in schedules. I’m exclusively breastfeeding, so I need to take breaks to pump and/or feed my daughter, and parents of school-aged kids have to deal with daycare and school dropoffs and pickups. As long as you create an output-based organization with clear KPIs it shouldn’t matter if someone takes 30 minutes in the afternoon to pick up their kid from school.

Does your company have any parental policies in place? 

Yes, we created a parental leave policy in 2020 when we developed our employee handbook. Our policy includes salary top-ups and benefits throughout their leave. It was important for us to be open about our parental leave policy, especially knowing we would want to start a family in the near future. My husband and I are co-founders at Willful, so I’m proud that we can set an example by taking parental leave ourselves.

We’re also big supporters of SickKids Hospital at Willful—it’s so reassuring to know we have a world-class children’s hospital in our backyard. I’ve loved working on the #Tech4SickKids initiative because I’ve had the chance to meet so many Toronto tech executives who are also parents.

What are some misconceptions about motherhood and entrepreneurship that you think need to be dismantled based on your experience so far? 

That you are somehow not as effective in business if you’re pregnant and/or a parent. I can honestly say that my pregnancy was the most productive time in my career—I was so focused on ensuring the company was in a good place when I went on leave, and with my due date looming it made me hyper-productive. And I truly believe the phrase “if you want something done give it to a busy person.” Parents are just more strategic about how they spend their time at work. 

A lot of times, the conversation around motherhood and working moms has placed the responsibility or burden of moving the conversation forward on women. How do you think men can do a better job of supporting working moms? 

By taking parental leave! My husband is taking parental leave to watch our daughter when I’m back to work, and it’s such a relief to know that she’ll be cared for by a parent in our home. Partners can also help with the mental burden of being a parent. Overwhelmingly, the moms I speak to talk about how while their partners are helpful, the burden of managing parenthood falls on the mom everything from researching baby products to reading baby books to keeping diapers in stock to doing laundry. Trying to project manage motherhood while running a business is a recipe for burnout.

Essentially, this is a conversation that comes back to misogyny. If paternal leave isn’t granted to new dads, then the burden often falls on women and prevents them from advancing in their careers. What can employers do to support new dads as well as moms? 

I was shocked at the number of dads and partners who are back to work after one to two weeks, if that. As entrepreneurs, we have been so fortunate to have flexibility, and both of us were able to take time off to spend with our daughter but we’re the anomaly, not the rule. The big challenge is childcare—a lot of parents extend maternity leave simply because they can’t imagine sending their child to daycare when they’re two to three months old. Any employer who can provide childcare, or provide comp plans that make childcare affordable, will have an incredibly easy time attracting and retaining parents in the future.

Do you have any advice for parents who are individually ambitious in both their family and professional lives? What has worked for you in navigating both ambitions? 

You can do it all, you just can’t do it all at once. I’m not going to be an incredible parent, CEO, friend, and partner all on the same day—but I do believe I can do it all at different times. When I’m in work mode, I’m heads-down and focused, and I’m working on being equally present when I’m with my daughter, my husband, or my family and friends. I also see my career as setting an example for our daughter. My mom had a high-powered career as a marketing executive at Nortel, and she inspired me to want a big career and is the source of my ambitious goals. I hope I can be an example for our daughter as well.

How would you like to redefine motherhood or add to how we understand and define it today, if at all? 

One thing I’ve learned from becoming a mom is how many people struggle with having a child. I’m 36, so many of my friends and peers have been through IVF, miscarriages, surrogacy, and other fertility challenges. Even if one of your employees isn’t a parent it doesn’t mean they don’t want to be, so I think we need to be thoughtful about how we support not just parents, but employees struggling with fertility issues. 

Vivian Kaye

Vivian Kaye

Title: CEO and founder, KinkyCurlyYaki; host, Business Class: Build It Braver podcast by American Express

What is your primary responsibility at your job?

For KinkyCurlyYaki, I lead the overall vision of the company, establish goals, and execute strategy to grow the e-commerce business. For my personal brand, I create content to empower women and small business owners. I also collaborate with corporate brands to create content to reach the small business owner. 

What is the most surprising thing about motherhood that you didn’t expect going into it? 

I didn’t realize how lonely it could be. Same thing with being an entrepreneur. Being a mom (and a single mom, at that) and being an entrepreneur are two of the loneliest things you can do

How has motherhood changed the way you think about running a business? 

I was running a business and then became a single mom. Motherhood has taught me a lot about asking for help, trusting your intuition, trusting yourself, and a whole lot of patience, which all also comes in very handy when it comes to running a business

Are there any parallels between being a mother and running a company?

Both motherhood and entrepreneurship are way messier than social media shows you

What are some misconceptions about motherhood and entrepreneurship that you think need to be dismantled based on your experience so far? 

A misconception is that women can’t be multidimensional. We can be entrepreneurs and moms at the same time. Is it easy? Absolutely not. Is it possible? Yes!

Do you have any advice for parents who are individually ambitious in both their family and professional lives? What has worked for you in navigating both ambitions? 

What’s worked for me in navigating my ambitions is to do the things that make me happy and are steps to my big goal. Society tries to guilt us into always putting our children first, but I disagree with the always part. Sometimes, in order for your children to be happy, you have to be happy. That means putting yourself first.

How would you like to redefine motherhood or add to how we understand and define it today, if at all? 

The beautiful thing about motherhood is that my motherhood doesn’t have to look like your motherhood. It’s one of the most challenging journeys one can go on, just like entrepreneurship. 

Khushboo Jha

Khushboo Jha

Title: CEO and founder, BuyProperly

What is your primary responsibility at your job?

As a founder and CEO, I am responsible for setting the company vision and building and scaling for growth. 

What is the most surprising thing about motherhood that you didn’t expect going into it?

To my pleasant surprise, I discovered motherhood can be data-driven and you can be analytical about it. In fact, being structured and data-driven makes it easier to manage. 

How has motherhood changed the way you think about running a business?

Motherhood has made me more cognizant of approaches to influencing behaviour outcomes. For my team, just like for my baby, I need to set up the right environment, provide the right training and exposure to ideas, and provide opportunities to explore and learn—in addition to being patient as they do so.  Motherhood has also given me greater confidence in hiring people with limited to no experience knowing BuyProperly has the right environment to help people find their superpowers.

Are there any parallels between being a mother and running a company?

There are a lot of parallels between being a mother and running a company.

First, the best way to grow is through experimentation. As a mother, that means ensuring my kid tries lots of new things. As a startup, we similarly have to experiment with new ideas and learn. Not everything will work out, but there is only one way to find out.

Second, you cannot do it alone. Just like raising a child, building a company takes a village. Scaling and running a company often relies on partnerships, avid customers, and even critics.

Third, balls will get dropped and that’s okay. There are many priorities to juggle at any given time and not everything will be perfect. It is important to know which balls can drop and which ones cannot. In other words, rigorously prioritize.

Fourth, growth means new challenges. Every stage of growth is new and different in terms of challenges, and you have to unlearn old coping methods to thrive through new ones. 

Fifth, there is no one right way. Every business is different just like every child is, and you must figure out the best path for yourself and your child or company. 

What is missing when we have these conversations around supporting moms in the workplace? Where do you think progress needs to be made? How do you think workplaces can better support moms in general?

Childcare support: Workplaces must make childcare considerations an integral part of employee benefits. This means there are resources allocated to childcare including tutoring programs, learning programs, etc.  Flexibility should be the norm rather than the exception. We have couples working on our team who are also new parents and they often cannot attend meetings together as they take turns watching the baby. BuyProperly’s flexibility has helped this couple manage to raise their young child. Remove process biases (across hiring, evaluation, and day-to-day). Effectiveness at work should not be measured by face-time and ability to provide lightning-fast responses (unless you are a 911 service).

Does your company have any parental policies in place?

We have a flexible maternity/paternity leave policy. We also have a Returnship Program for mothers that allows the flexibility to ramp back into work after time off.  

What are some misconceptions about motherhood and entrepreneurship that you think need to be dismantled based on your experience so far?

Motherhood and entrepreneurship are both hard work. But entrepreneurship also provides the flexibility to choose one’s path for motherhood. In a standard career path, you are often forced to make a choice between working 100 percent of the time or staying at home with your baby 100 percent of the time. 

A lot of times, the conversation around motherhood and working moms has placed the responsibility or burden of moving the conversation forward on women. How do you think men can do a better job of supporting working moms?

I do feel the conversation—even in today’s era—assumes that managing a child is the women’s responsibility. The conversation must shift to parenting where either or both parents are responsible for raising empathetic, self-aware, and contributing future generations. Men need to step out of their supporting roles and start playing lead roles or at least equal roles.

Essentially, this is a conversation that comes back to misogyny. If paternal leave isn’t granted to new dads, then the burden often falls on women and prevents them from advancing in their careers. What can employers do to support new dads as well as moms?

Firstly, having a generous paternity leave is a pre-condition. The “norm” that employers can play a role in supporting is the expectation that fathers should take paternal leave. 

Do you have any advice for parents who are individually ambitious in both their family and professional lives? What has worked for you in navigating both ambitions?

Structuring and planning all aspects of life has helped my family manage ambitious careers while providing the best possible environment for our baby. We both attended classes, read books, and had literally planned every aspect for the first year of our baby’s life. We literally trained and prepared like we would for a new big role at work.  Prioritizing: We decided as a household to outsource some things (e.g. cooking), find hacks for others, and simply drop other activities from our lives. Get help! We took help from whoever offered and in whatever format.  

How would you like to redefine motherhood or add to how we understand and define it today, if at all?

It’s each woman’s own road to define their own motherhood and it’s society’s job to respect that definition.

Sylvia Ng

Sylvia Ng

Title: CEO, ReturnBear; founder, Amidira

What is your primary responsibility at your job?

My responsibility at ReturnBear is simple—to make retail returns easy for everyone and better for the planet. At ReturnBear, we’re on a mission to support every Canadian, in every neighborhood across the country, to provide them with a convenient, transparent solution for returns, whether you’re a customer or an e-commerce retailer.

What is the most surprising thing about motherhood that you didn’t expect going into it? 

How bad the lack of sleep would be with a newborn. But also how much it’ll change my perspective on life. I used to look for restaurants or cafes, now I look for playgrounds and skating rinks.

How has motherhood changed the way you think about running a business? 

Prioritization—not everything at work is important. You can get results without spending every hour on work. Things are simpler than you think, just ask a kid.

Are there any parallels between being a mother and running a company?

A business is a living thing. Like any child, it has its own mind by way of employees, and that mind needs to be cultivated and listened to.

What is missing when we have these conversations around supporting moms in the workplace? Where do you think progress needs to be made? How do you think workplaces can better support moms in general? 

Work from home is lacking support. Tech companies especially like to provide food and other services in their offices, like yoga classes or just quiet space. It improves employee well-being and productivity. When we transitioned to work-from-home during COVID, tech companies never got around to transitioning these programs, but they should. Food services in the home, house cleaning, or benefits to cover some costs would go a long way so moms don’t get saddled with these burdens in a work-from-home setting. This goes for dads, too. We need support for parents in general. Saying some program or support is only for the mom and not the dad goes against what we need, which is for both parents to be supported.

What are some misconceptions about motherhood and entrepreneurship that you think need to be dismantled based on your experience so far? 

There is a misconception that moms aren’t as dedicated or committed. The reality is that moms have more at stake—we just might not work on a fixed 9-5 schedule.

A lot of times, the conversation around motherhood and working moms has placed the responsibility or burden of moving the conversation forward on women. How do you think men can do a better job of supporting working moms? 

I’ve met so many women who want to keep women groups closed so that it’s safe. But that leads to preaching to the converted. I’ve also met men who want to help but don’t know how. Men need to listen—really listen—and not judge. It’s not a given that if men participate, the safe space where women can share is lost.  You can’t know what to do if you don’t understand the problems. If you want to help but don’t know what to do, you haven’t listened enough. Listen more.

Essentially, this is a conversation that comes back to misogyny. If paternal leave isn’t granted to new dads, then the burden often falls on women and prevents them from advancing in their careers. What can employers do to support new dads as well as moms? 

Think of support more holistically. Support for the whole family and support for the caregivers. (This is the premise behind Amidira’s care boxes; there are tech companies using Amidira to supply care boxes to employees who are also caregivers.) Food, cleaning, childcare. But also think beyond the newborn stage: tutoring, booking camps, car and gas services, scheduling.

Do you have any advice for parents who are individually ambitious in both their family and professional lives? What has worked for you in navigating both ambitions? 

Dream with your partner. You are a team including your kids, too. My kids work on my care box business. Take a longer time horizon [and focus on] slow motion and multi-tasking.

How would you like to redefine motherhood or add to how we understand and define it today, if at all? 

We celebrate business success all the time and idolize the people who run businesses. Moms, on the other hand, are the backbone of our society and we celebrate moms only one day a year. It’s not enough. Let’s do better to acknowledge the value we bring at home because what moms teach and instill collectively shapes the future of the next generation.

Alexandra Voyevodina-Wang

Alexandra Voyevodina-Wang

Title: President and general manager, Endy

What is your primary responsibility at your job?

As president and GM of Endy, I lead the company’s best-in-class executive team, providing strategic oversight to Endy’s finance, operations, customer care, legal, marketing, and human resources teams. My role is the first in command of the company and I am responsible for crafting the strategic direction and vision of the brand to drive growth and success.

What is the most surprising thing about motherhood that you didn’t expect going into it? 

To be honest, every day is an adventure when you have children, but what I’ve found to be the most surprising is how much I love it! When I was little I never enjoyed playing house with dolls, and as I grew up I was a bit skeptical about having kids. That all went away the moment my first son was born, I knew I made the right decision for myself, and that was the best surprise I could have asked for. 

How has motherhood changed the way you think about running a business? 

Becoming a parent has further reinforced the importance of trusting the team and nurturing a culture of flexibility, efficiency, and high performance. This flexibility has been key to how I have run the business, with or without children. It takes great people to make a company successful, so I have always been very open to how the team functions and believe in work-life integration. Rather than drawing the line between when work starts and stops I have found that the sweet spot is when you integrate the two together. That could mean taking some time during the day to go to appointments, exercise, or take a mental break. It could also mean doing work outside of typical business hours from time to time. The key here is trusting the team to know how, when, and where they work best. 

Are there any parallels between being a mother and running a company?

I think there are many. One of the best aspects of both parenthood and entrepreneurship is watching something grow, through the good and the bad. The second is learning to let go and focus on the big picture. I won’t always make the best call at work, and my son will not always sit down for dinner, but in the grand scheme of things, individually, none of those things matter.

What is missing when we have these conversations around supporting moms in the workplace? Where do you think progress needs to be made? How do you think workplaces can better support moms in general? 

Part of the issue around the topic of moms in the workplace is that the conversation should actually be focused on parents in the workplace. To me, this means shifting the concept of parenthood from a nuclear family and heteronormative parents to being more open to the various identities and family structures that exist. Removing gender from the conversation will not only help normalize different family structures but will also ensure that the responsibility of having children does not always land on the people who birth them. Many industries are very far behind in this thinking, you will still see people judging the type of leave a woman takes, whether it is too long or too short. It is rare to see that with the father. We need to be addressing parenthood as a whole instead of singling out gender, and that is when we will start to see real progress in the workplace. 

Does your company have any parental policies in place? 

At Endy, we have a number of policies in place to support our parents. We provide a 100 percent top-up program regardless of the parent’s gender or identity as well as offer a flexible return to work process. We promote a culture that encourages men to take time off and we work closely with the parents at Endy to ensure they are feeling supported by the company during all the different stages of parenthood. 

What are some misconceptions about motherhood and entrepreneurship that you think need to be dismantled based on your experience so far? 

I think there is still a misconception that women can only be either career-motivated or family-motivated. Or, worse, that once women have children, they will somehow be less reliable or less invested in their work. I believe it is completely untrue. Certainly, after having children, flexibility becomes more of a “must” than “nice-to-have” — however, I am confident that neither reliability nor productivity is impacted, and I think it is wrong to assume otherwise.

A lot of times, the conversation around motherhood and working moms has placed the responsibility or burden of moving the conversation forward on women. How do you think men can do a better job of supporting working moms? 

Employers can support all parents by having a parental leave policy and company culture that encourages all genders to take time off. Men shouldn’t shy away from taking leave and helping to support their partners. Also, more generally speaking, companies can also do a better job at supporting parents by creating a more flexible work environment that allows parents the ability to step away from their computer to pick up their children from school or daycare, or to work from home if their child is sick. The pandemic has definitely shifted the thinking of many businesses on how the traditional office needs to be revamped to better support employees and parents. 

Do you have any advice for parents who are individually ambitious in both their family and professional lives? What has worked for you in navigating both ambitions? 

Part of what has made work-life integration easier is that I truly enjoy my job. I am passionate about my career and I am very invested in the success and growth of Endy. Half the battle is finding a role where you feel excited about your work.  It is also ok to ask for help when you can. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is very true. Whether the help comes from a partner, family, friends, etc.—it is ok. There is nothing wrong with other people being in a child’s life. In fact, it even helps with their development, communication styles, and even their independence.

How would you like to redefine motherhood or add to how we understand and define it today, if at all? 

I would like the focus to shift from how we define “motherhood” to how we define and understand parenthood. When we tie the concept of raising children so closely to women and mothers we are excluding an entire demographic of parents. 

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