Mothers and The Lean in Movement

We were all saddened to hear of the sudden death of David Goldberg, the CEO of Survey Monkey and the husband of Sheryl Sandberg, author of ‘Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead’.  The reason so many people around the world mourned his death was that he became famous, not just through his own achievements, but by being the very supportive spouse of a very successful and highly paid woman.Mothers Day

In her now famous book, which has launched a global ‘Lean In’ movement, Sheryl Sandberg devotes a whole chapter to the need for women with a desire to lead and lean in to their careers, to have a supportive partner, should they have a family as well.  She credits David Goldberg with being a significant part of her success.  David had been a very vocal supporter of women making their voices heard, even before he met Sheryl. The New York Times recently published an article about his commitment to women’s issues.

Sheryl and David have two children together, and in the book Sheryl explains how, even with the privilege of being able to afford exceptional child care,  they both worked with their diaries to make sure they were both sharing the parenting responsibilities equally.  They sat down at the beginning of every week, diaries out, to work out who was taking the children to school, and made sure, as much as possible, that if one was away from home, the other wasn’t.

They both, even as leaders with multi million dollar salaries, regularly left the office at 5.30 in the afternoon, ate dinner with their children, and then if needed, went back to work, from home, after their children were in bed.

They were a team.  Debora L Spar, president of Barnard College, at which Ms Sandberg gave a speech said:

“They were very much the role models for what this next generation wants to grapple with”

So many times women professionals who have children watch their careers suddenly stall.  Margaret Jolly, HR Consultant with a long history working with law firms advises women going on parental leave to not become what she calls the ‘default parent’ – the one who has to stay home when the child is sick, or the one to pick the child up from care and do the myriad of other things that happen over the course of the week as a parent.  Unless you are in a single parent situation there are two parents – and having a set of car keys and a telephone is more important in organizing kids than auterus.

Sheryl Sandberg wrote:

‘I truly believe that the single most important career decision that a woman makes is whether she will have a life partner and who that partner is.  I don’t know one woman in a leadership position whose life partner is not fully – and I mean fully- supportive of her career. No exceptions.’

This means doing the laundry!

So on this Mother’s Day – ask yourself if you want to ‘Lean In’ to your career are you able to do so without your partner ‘Leaning In’ on the domestic front?

RIP David Goldberg