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Let’s put an end to the motherhood penalty this Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day is said to be a day on and not off for working mothers. Mothers are symbols of love, care, sacrifice, and commitment. Their selfless compassion for us is unrivalled.

This article is dedicated to all of the mothers reading it and our wonderful contributors who deserve to be recognised for their talents and abilities.

Dynamic Business asked working mothers to know the inspiring stories and challenges they face despite the lack of recognition and appreciation to honour the woman who has quietly sacrificed much in her life for us.

Lyra Mackay, Evangelist, Zoho Corporation

Lyra-Mackay
Lyra Mackay, Evangelist, Zoho Corporation

“My mum instilled in me from a young age the importance of ‘living happy’ in whatever you do. It’s not about working the longest hours or saying yes to everything, happiness is about all aspects of life and finding fulfilment in life outside of work. 

“Mum often says actually to achieve a long, happy career; work/life balance is a must. Therefore I fill my days outside of work doing what I love. After all, as my mum would say when we leave this earth, the most important part of our lives will be the experiences we felt – so it’s imperative to find the balance between staying young and driven and enjoying everything the world has to offer. 

“I’m fortunate enough to work with a great company that also believes in the importance of life outside of work and work/life balance and couldn’t be happier with where am I today.”

Poppy Trewhella, Venture Partnerships Director at Dovetail

Poppy-Trewhella
Poppy Trewhella, Venture Partnerships Director at Dovetail

“My mum is, and always has been, my greatest role model. She’s taught me so many valuable lessons in both my personal and professional life that I’ve carried with me.

“’Stay curious and do something you enjoy is the best piece of advice my mum shared with me growing up. She’d often say a lot of life is spent at work, so choose something you’re passionate about. This advice is something I’ve taken onboard my entire career. Work/life balance is so important, and to bring your best self to work every day, you must prioritise time to do things outside of work that you love and that make you happy.

“I’m fortunate to work at Dovetail where work/life balance is a priority. I love my job and my team, so it’s easy to deliver your best work in those circumstances.”

Claire Hopkins, Interim CEO at RMIT Online

Claire-Hopkins
Claire Hopkins, Interim CEO at RMIT Online

“One piece of advice from my mother that definitely stuck with me was ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This seems pretty straightforward advice on the surface – basically, be a good and kind human being. But over the years, I’ve realised how layered this is, in that to treat others how you would like to be treated means that you have to be clear on what this means for you and others. 

“I often describe this as having a strong ‘sense of self – and it’s fair to say it took me some time to develop this truly. Things that really resonate with me are being responsive, kind and respectful with your words, assuming that people act with good intentions, and always being yourself.”

Tania Boler, Founder & CEO at Elvie

Tania-Boler
Tania Boler, Founder & CEO at Elvie

“As a founder entrepreneur, you have to really be passionate about what you do if your product supports a personal need, even better.

“The idea for Elvie Trainer, our first product, came to me when I was pregnant. I’d worked in women’s health for 15 years so I wasn’t surprised when my body started to change. That said, even with all my experience, there was still so much I didn’t know – especially when it came to my pelvic floor.

“I had never planned to start a business. But after learning how many women struggled with urinary incontinence and pelvic floor prolapse after giving birth – a shocking one in every three women – and the limited support offered, I was determined to find a way to better care for new mums.

“This was the genesis of Elvie Trainer, a smart Kegel trainer, and app that gives users real-time biofeedback, so they can actively track their improvement. From here we’re developing a product ecosystem that aims to be the go-to destination in femtech – high tech products to match the high tech needs of women’s bodies.”

Melanie Corlett – CEO and Founder of Mumli

Melanie-Corlett
Melanie Corlett – CEO and Founder of Mumli

“As information for new mums continues to shift to the digital world, I believe the advice available doesn’t suit the needs of modern Millennial and Gen Z women – who make up 85% of new mothers today. From my own personal experience as a new mum searching for answers online, I learned that there was a gap in the market to simplify the searching.

“When we built Mumli, we knew it had to be for the new generation of mums. In the development phase, we spoke to a lot of mums about what they struggled with, and where they needed support, and used these insights to inform the functions of the app.

“Being a mother is one of the toughest jobs in the world. Since launching Mumli, our new mums have made it clear that they’re looking for everything in one place to support their journey, from expert info to the best products in the market. 

“When mums engage with the app, we want them to find and prioritise themselves and their own identity, as much as their children’s. Our goal with Mumli is to make life easier for new mums by helping to lessen some of the anxiety and overwhelm and allowing them actually to enjoy how incredible motherhood can be.”

Tamara Oppen, Managing Director Australia at GoDaddy

Tamara-Oppen
Tamara Oppen, General Manager Australia at GoDaddy

“My mum has instilled in me a strong sense of identity and work ethic that I have carried with me throughout my business career. When I was younger, I didn’t appreciate how valuable these life skills would be, nor how often I would need to lean on them. 

“The best advice my mum has given me is that a strong moral compass is critical in navigating the ups and downs in business. Work always throws you curveballs but having a strong moral compass is what you need to push through the hard times and come out stronger.

“She has also shown me that a constant source of inspiration and support is very important in your business journey. I couldn’t do what I do today – working in a full-time role with two kids in high school – without the help and support my mother gave me. I am forever grateful for her and all she has taught me.”

Pam Martinez, Chief Financial Officer, SevenRooms 

Pam-Martinez
Pam Martinez, Chief Financial Officer, SevenRooms

“My mother and her parents have always been my biggest inspiration. My grandfather was orphaned young, put himself through university, and served in the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. My grandmother grew up in a family that built and grew a large dairy business, working in the business before becoming an army nurse and then starting a family of her own. 

The consistent pieces of advice I received from my family were the overarching themes of being honest, working hard, doing your best and remember who loves you. This was instilled in me from a young age, and it’s something I’ve carried with me my whole life, both professionally and personally. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. 

Becoming a mother myself has helped me in my career. Having kids forces you to be more efficient and work on what is most important in order to balance your time. Children give you great perspective, and motherhood has helped me become a more well-rounded person, colleague, leader and friend.”

Lanette Helene, Owner of SpeedFit studio

Lanette-Helene
Lanette Helene, Owner of SpeedFit studio

“I love being in the studio when Liam trains clients because he puts his psychology degree to good use in developing great relationships with the clients and also pushing them in a respectful way. 

“I also train him once a week, and he pushes himself and always gives me constructive feedback after his session. I know the skills he learns here and also the insight that he has into the business will inspire the next part of his life – and that’s rewarding as a mum.”

Kate Morgan, Founder and Co-CEO at Eggy 

Kate-Morgan
Kate Morgan, Founder and Co-CEO at Eggy 

“When you think about the role of a CEO, it’s much the same as what mums do every single day! Running a household is a lot like running a business. Both involve an incredible amount of responsibility, important decision-making, and management of operations and resources. You’re trying to prioritise, keep everyone happy and get good outcomes. Mums are natural CEOs.

“I’m very fortunate to be a Co-CEO at work and a Co-CEO at home and have the support of my husband in both settings. Being able to talk through work issues over the dinner table or being able to talk about family stuff during our lunch break means we can be pretty efficient. Although I must say, it can be tough spending so much time together! When you’ve put everything on the line to make your business a success, you get over any disagreements pretty quickly though.

“For any mums who are thinking about starting their own business, my biggest tip would be to get advice from people who have been in your shoes before and who have had success in the field you’re getting into.

“Good advice is priceless because you can cut through the deluge of ‘advice’ that lives online and avoid making mistakes through other people’s experiences. 

‘It’s also important for all working mums to remember that nobody has it all together and nobody can do everything independently. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Lean on your support system and make the most of any tools and resources that can help you keep on top of things. We’re all doing our best, and that’s the important thing. We’ve got this!”

Rachael Greaves, Co-Founder and CEO, Castlepoint Systems

Rachael-Greaves
Rachael Greaves, Co-Founder and CEO, Castlepoint Systems

“I started my company before I started a family, and growing a business is much more than a full-time job.

“But after having a molar pregnancy in my 20s, which is a kind of a miscarriage that we don’t talk about enough, I wanted to try again for a baby. Whilst I had a lot of anxiety trying again, at the same time as running my own company, I was excited about the prospect of being a mum. But sadly, my next pregnancy ended in miscarriage. However, there were positive things ahead with my son, born in 2016, and then my daughter in 2019.

“But being pregnant and then raising two babies during the start-up phase of the business was very challenging – no maternity leave for founders! I remember joining one sale call on Zoom so the client wouldn’t see I was nine months pregnant and decide to discount us. I also remember driving to an in-person meeting just six days after my C Section and being told we would be walking across campus for the actual meeting. Then I was speaking at a conference, and with nowhere to pump milk, I remember being put behind a floor-to-ceiling wall decoration in a public stairwell as the only ‘private’ space.

“All of this was hard, but the pregnancy loss was hard too. The grief was profound, as was the anxiety leading up to it, and as a society, we don’t acknowledge and make space for this as much as we should, especially in business. 

“At Castlepoint Systems, as a result of my own experiences, we made an early decision as a company to add a special category of pregnancy loss leave to our allocation, for both mums and dads, before it was required by law. The other thing I can do personally as a business leader (and as a mum) is to talk about the problems I had, and share, them so we can normalise the discussion and change our perspectives.  

“Parenting and running a company are both full-time jobs, and they’re both really rewarding. We are a blended family with five kids altogether. Being a founder is that you can set priorities for work flexibility based on your own experiences. We have many parents and carers in the team who use our universal flexible work policy to be present and participate more fully in their parenting or pregnancy.

“This Mothers’ Day is a good time to celebrate parents and carers for their commitment to their kids and their huge contribution to our workplaces.”

Christina Salvo, Founder of Simple Separation

Christina-Salvo
Christina Salvo, Founder of Simple Separation

“Mother’s Day can be a stressful and dreaded occasion for some mums when it should be a day for celebration to recognise the amazing job they do as a mum, 365 days of the year. 

“For mothers who are going through a divorce or separation, Mother’s Day instead gets sabotaged and leaves you feeling lonely, especially when the children are in the father’s care. 

“To help ease emotions on this special day, it’s always good to have a parenting plan with a mutual agreement. If the children are in the father’s care, consider changeover the night before rather than on the day to alleviate any stress. The same goes for Father’s Day in September. “ 

Danielle Dobson, founder of Code Conversations

Danielle-Dobson
Danielle Dobson, founder of Code Conversations

Can we put a price on motherhood?

“Mother’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the mothers in our lives and challenge ourselves and the ways we think of motherhood and its value within our society.

“The Gender Code within our society teaches us that women are naturally carers and nurturers. We expect them to have a calling to motherhood, and to embrace the vocation of being a mum without expecting anything in return. To carry the load of caring, without being compensated with time or money (resources highly valued by most of us). 

“We value women as mothers and often judge them on being a ‘good mum’ or a ‘bad mum.’ According to an illusive ‘gold standard’, but as soon as we’re asked to put a price on the role of being a parent, it’s not seen as valuable.

“As a society, we generally don’t value caring roles the way we should. The ‘pink collar’ female-dominated careers – such as nursing, childcare and teaching – aren’t paid as well as other sectors. But without these caring and supportive roles, we would all flounder.

“Perhaps this Mother’s Day we can think about the value of mothering, caring and supporting, and start to question why we feel so uncomfortable putting a price on the workload of motherhood. And why we value so many other things more.”

Cinzia Cozzolino and Lana Hooper — Mother and Daughter, and Co-Founders of The Smoothie Bombs

Cinzia-Cozzolino-and-Lana-Hooper
Cinzia Cozzolino and Lana Hooper — Mother and Daughter, and Co-Founders of The Smoothie Bombs

“In 2007 I was 42 and I’d just started studying nutrition after years of struggling as a single mum with odd jobs and no clear career direction or financial security.

“Monday to Friday, I worked and studied. On weekends I experimented with an idea to hide healthy foods in chocolate milkshakes for my fussy-eating 12-year-old, Lana. She loved them, and our business was born!

“A mum and daughter running a business together? That may sound a little odd, but we like doing things our own way. Today, Lana and I have turned a simple idea of supercharged smoothies into a booming mother-daughter business creating careers for our team and financial security for my family.

“We certainly aren’t the kind of people that sat down and thought of a way to make lots of money. Quite the opposite! We were just two people with a fledgling online presence. Trust, passion and grit were the ingredients for our growth. We jumped on Shopify to create a storefront and went from selling in Melbourne clinics to now shipping around the world.

“Business is tough. Motherhood is tougher. And, while Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate us, mums, it’s also a time to celebrate those who love and support us and, in my case, inspire us to be the best we can be.”

Terri Martin, GM (East coast) at The marketing Room

Terri-Martin
Terri Martin, GM (East coast) at The marketing Room

“I’m a businesswoman (I run a business called The Marketing Room – a consultancy that provides in house outsourced marketing managers to businesses on a part-time basis); I’m a non-executive director on the board of ADHD Australia; I have two teenagers who I raise on my own; whilst I’m re-married, my husband lives interstate, so I travel regularly, I also mentor young women in their career. 

“Oh plus, my business works with many mums who want to balance their work and family life truly. I have stories of entering the workforce after my second child as a part-time employee and it quickly turning full time without me wanting it, and having the guilts about that for quite a long time.

“If I looked at my life from the outside, I would think “, how does she do it?! She’s incredible”, but the reality is that I don’t feel I do anything particularly well. I often catch myself comparing myself to other mu’s who are very involved in their kids’ lives and think “but I’m not doing that…I mustn’t be good enough”. It’s a theme for me.

“I think this mother’s day, let’s celebrate all our differences: the SAHM mums whose sole focus is on their children’s upbringing; the mums who are balancing the kids and work (whilst maybe taking a step back in their career through part-time work); or the mums who genuinely are trying to juggle it all. No type of mum is better or worse than the other. We are all different people, with different priorities, different circumstances, different children and different ways of parenting. Let’s no longer put anyone on a pedestal and celebrate all their glorious differences! Because we’re all doing the very best, we can.”

Margarita Claringbold, CFO at BROSA 

Margarita Claringbold, CFO at BROSA 

“Flexibility means having the ability to manage my family and work commitments that best suit me. I am less stressed when I know that I can prioritise the well being of my family, without having detrimental effects on my work and career.

“It’s a constant juggle with being a working mum, but it’s worth it. Maintaining the work part of my life has made me a better and more engaged mother. Determine where you need help and put in place dependable support. It’s also important to get comfortable with letting go – for most people, it’s impossible to be an engaged mum, have a clean and tidy house, and have a meaningful and fulfilling role at work. So keep what makes you most happy and let the other things go.

“I also built flexibility into my work schedule to accommodate the unexpected such as being able to work from home/virtually if my children were sick. I have also found that being transparent regarding your family commitments helps ease the pressure.

“Offering a way for parents to work flexibly whilst still meeting the requirements of their role is a win-win. It will help retain good people, build loyalty, and create an inclusive workplace culture.  At Brosa we offer 16 weeks of paid parental leave when a person becomes a new parent, but this is only the starting point. I believe having a working mum as a role model is important to help break down traditional roles and stereotypes and it also gives a sense of shared responsibility.

“Kids live each day observing how a family operates when both parents pursue meaningful careers and manage the balance of family responsibilities.”

Kathryn Van Kuyk, co-CEO and co-founder at Media-Wize

Kathryn-Van-Kuyk
Kathryn Van Kuyk, co-CEO and co-founder at Media-Wize

“It was only after 20 years working for other people’s PR agencies and after going through a divorce and having two primary school-aged children that I decided to take the leap and found my own business. 

“My co-founder, Anthony Caruana might have thought he was taking a risk, partnering with a middle-aged single mother, but the drive and determination to make our venture succeed meant that those life constraints were not an issue. 

“A busy working mother is an incredible force when she wants to get achieve something. As they say, if you want something done, give it to a busy person. Mothers demonstrate in business an uncanny skill to spin multiple plates in the air at once, often with grace and empathy, wisdom and compassion. 

“This Mother’s Day is a chance to celebrate the incredible sacrifices mothers make every day to care for the well-being of the children and the wellbeing of their businesses. They are the backbone of our country and without their tireless effort as a community we would all be worse off.” 

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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