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Key Takeaways:

  • Be the kind of company that celebrates (and pays ?!?!) maternity leave.
  • Tell working moms when they’re doing an incredible job — they don’t hear it enough!
  • You never know when your comments will make a lasting impression.

It happened at the “table” one afternoon

I have a seat at the table.  You know the one, the one that women and minorities are always working hard to find a place at.  The Table, with the President and the COO where decisions are made and planning happens.

It took hard work, dedication and gumption to get there, so you can imagine my apprehension when I had to sit across from them and announce that I was *gasp* pregnant. My concerns were unfounded as I was met with nothing but encouragement.  Not just congratulations on my news, but being told by Mike Gunderson (agency CEO) that “he was so happy for me and not worried about my upcoming  leave because he knew I had things under control”.

That was not my finest working mom moment.

That moment came later — after the team compiled a photo book and delivered it to me before my leave started (cue the ugly crying)… After 6 weeks of company paid leave… after the invitation to bring my son into the office… and after the first time I called in sick because the baby was sick.  It literally came at the table.

Every quarter we hold an agency planning session, where we take the opportunity to work ‘on the business’ rather than ‘in the business’.  We look ahead at the upcoming year and the future of the organization. It’s an all day session and I am a nursing mom.  About 3 hours in I knew I would have to pump. We were at a rented workspace and there was nowhere to pump. Besides, as any breastfeeding mom knows, pumping requires a solid 20 minutes, which meant either holding up the session or sacrificing the lunch break.

Taking an anxious breath, I looked around at the three men in the room and said “I don’t think there’s anywhere to pump.  I don’t mind pumping here, as long as you don’t mind me pumping here.”  “Not a problem, go ahead, of course” came the responses.

Unpack the pump, plug it in, assemble the parts, slip out the pads, hook up the flanges, start the milking machine. Engage in the conversation, take notes, add value to the discussion.  Disconnect the parts, unassemble the pump, and repack the bag.

No gasps, no awkward chatter, just a working mom doing what she needs to do.

But here is the ‘finest’ moment – at the end of the session we all take a couple of minutes to share our thoughts on the day.  Mike Gunderson took this opportunity to express how impressed he was by the fact that I stayed there, at that table, and did what needed to be done as a mom and a leader, not sacrificing either role.

That was my finest working mom moment.  When it felt like I was successfully doing it all — a respected leader in our company who didn’t have to leave the “table” to be a mom.

The support that Gunderson Direct has given me from the moment I found out I was pregnant throughout this first year of my son’s life has been nothing short of incredible.  I am proud of what I do and even more proud to be a part of an organization that values its employees beyond the 40 hours they put in at work each week — a place that values people for who they are and where they are in their lives right now.

People person. Avid reader. Bay Area born and raised. Managing the office and all of our human resource needs, Jaki wears many hats to ensure the Gunderson Direct team thrives and the agency sees continued success.

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