'A breastfeeding mama, nursing her baby, leading a team meeting. I’m sharing this picture because it’s not something you see every day,' wrote Conn.
Mothers often come across as superhumans who manage work and their households perfectly but their workplace and family support do play a huge part in achieving that perfection. One such supermom shared her story on LinkedIn and is now inspiring many people. Lisa Conn was working as a Chief Operating Officer for a company called Gatheround before going on maternity leave in December last year. And when she returned to work last month, Conn was made the CEO of the company.
She wrote in the post, "Stepping into this role is a milestone moment for a lot of reasons: I feel honored to lead this company forward, proud of all that we have done and will do, and deeply grateful to my team, my co-founders, and my family." Conn shared that she was "immensely grateful" to be able to take up the position. She shared a picture of herself that her husband had taken. "A breastfeeding mama, nursing her baby, leading a team meeting. I’m sharing this picture because it’s not something you see every day," she wrote in the post.
Conn then spoke about why the picture means so much. "Women make up just 21% of C-Suite leadership. Only 22% of women in senior leadership roles have children. The percentage of early postpartum moms in senior leadership roles? Vanishingly small. But research shows that companies with more women in leadership roles have better business outcomes. And women have lower rates of burnout and higher rates of job satisfaction when they’re able to work remotely and have more control over their time," she wrote.
Then she mentioned her company and how they are making a difference. "Flexible work doesn't just open doors for working parents, it's an important driver of accessibility and equity for all underrepresented segments of the workforce," wrote the new CEO.
The post soon went viral, gaining about 44,432 reactions and nearly 5 million impressions. People on the platform congratulated the new mother and CEO for her achievements. Chuck Moyer wrote, "Congratulations, Lisa! It's inspiring to see you leading the charge as CEO of Gatheround while balancing motherhood. Your experience highlights the importance of flexible work arrangements, especially for women in leadership roles who want to have a family." Jennifer Graham commented, "You are an amazing Mom! Moms make the choices that work best for them at the time! Years ago I pumped while driving my car… in sales & had no choice because I didn't want a longer workday. Mom to Mom - You deserve & need a few adjustments to your workstation to support you and your amazing self!"
However, many even shared concerns for her child. Anika Philipp wrote, "That's not an achievement neither something beautiful! I see a baby in front of a screen because momma has to keep on working." Maria Asuncion Diaz Pereira shared, "Well, as a mother who worked too soon after giving birth and has two children…. This photo is not an achievement, it’s the face of the cruel reality because as parents we are forced to do things like that, and ambition shouldn’t be a priority during the time that you should enjoy life the most with your child who needs you present and not in front of a computer.''
Conn spoke about these responses in the article she wrote for Fortune later. "There were plenty of detractors, many of whom betrayed a deep and chilling misogyny, barely veiled as concern for my child and her welfare. If I were a male CEO, no one would ask who was taking care of the baby while I worked," she wrote in her piece. She wrote how flexibility is not the complete solution. "To elevate more women to leadership positions, we need mandated paid leave, equitable hiring practices, and accessible, affordable childcare," Conn wrote.