A few weeks ago I posted an article, Babies And Biases - Both Need Changing, about a promising young entrepreneur who was looking for an investment. During our meeting, I discovered that she was worried to tell me that she was pregnant--I told her that being pregnant in no way diminishes her talents or her prospects. You can be a parent and a leader. A growing family can be a source of support and inspiration.
This moment for me reinforced the need to have more open and honest conversations with our entrepreneurial community, so we can break down the stigma of having a business and family. I started looking through the comments to my post, and this response caught my eye because it showed the potential to reshape attitudes, "I love to hear this. I recently advised a young woman seeking a job to not disclose her pregnancy. She wasn't comfortable with that and decided to let the HR department know prior to her interview. She still got the job, and I admit, I was shocked. The world is changing."
Here's how others across the country weighed in:
ON RISING TO THE TOP WITH KIDS
"I'm a Canadian living in New Zealand. Our new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, faced massive media attention in the run up to the election regarding what would happen if she became pregnant when elected. She faced it with grace and honesty and humour. You can sit in parliament and debate and breastfeed. You can travel the country doing business with a babe on your hip, if necessary."
"I'm leading the business my father started. After I took over the CEO position, my husband and I became pregnant. Our little girl is two, and while it isn't easy, I'm continuing to grow this business. I've taken little miss to legal meetings, accountant meetings, client meetings, field trial inspections, and scientific meetings. I'm fortunate to have a supportive team, and to be in a supportive and family-oriented industry (agriculture)."
ON WORKING AND RAISING A FAMILY
"I was on bedrest at 32 weeks negotiating national deals without them knowing. Its a fear that maybe they'll take you less seriously. I now have a newborn and I rock two startups."
"I had two babies within 11 months of each other and started a successful business. It's exhausting and wonderful. Having my kids gave me the extra push to always do my best and try every day to succeed."
"There is this unspoken pressure to choose, that children and business cannot co-exist. I can't tell you how many people have made the assumption I don't want children because of my interest in business, or that I will only pursue it up until the point that they come along."
"So many people look at a family, especially a young one, as a liability or weakness. My reality is that my family is my drive, they are my reason, and because of them I'm more strong and capable to accomplish anything."
ON MEN SUPPORTING THE WOMEN IN THEIR LIVES
"My wife faced an incredible amount of stigma and judgement for having her first child "too young." I can only wish that she had had someone like you to support her back in the day. I support her endeavours as much as I can."
"My wife is a professional woman, and we have five adult children in spite of contemporary Western attitudes towards such a social phenomenon." For the future of business growth, community wellbeing, and economic optimism, we need families and more positive attitudes towards pregnancy."
I hope you find these responses uplifting, and I encourage you to share with anyone in your entrepreneurial circle that you think could benefit.