Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Tesla‘s chair moves toward A.I., MacKenzie Scott sets off a grant application frenzy, and we share an excerpt from L’Oréal USA CHRO Stephanie Kramer’s new book, Carry Strong. Enjoy your Thursday!
– Working out loud. It has been 10 years since I was first pregnant, then not pregnant, then pregnant again at work. Since then, I have often shared my own stories for support—nearly always behind closed doors. In 2020, inspired by both the dire circumstances of the pandemic’s effect on women in the workforce and the profound strength I saw because of it, I decided to do more. For the next three years, I wrote my new book, Carry Strong: An Empowered Approach to Navigating Pregnancy and Work, to create conversations to empower women to defy expectations without creating new ones—including for themselves. The edited excerpt that follows is from the book’s conclusion, which showcases a recent moment of “balance,” the second of five principles I outline in the book.
Last fall I was in the office for a full week of important meetings for one of the first times post pandemic. Monday morning, I distinctly remember driving toward my office building on the West Side Highway, passing the New York skyline with my meeting notes in my hands. I had our team’s presentation on my laptop, and I was wearing a new dress. I was bursting with pride and ready to embrace giving work my full focus on the sliding scale of work to life—and to enjoy it. I knew how lucky I was, that it was rare and to be savored—the opportunity and the privilege of having the feeling of effort realized and the system in place do it while being the mother of two small children.
At the beginning of the week, there were endorphins pumping from great work (and results), an engaged team, a buzz of in-person connection. But as the week progressed, I missed my kids more than I do when I’m on a long business trip. These were long days, and so despite being in the same city I missed my boys waking up and going to sleep every night for days in a row. By Thursday afternoon, I was toast and had a silent meltdown at my desk.
Courtesy of Penguin Random House
When I’m away for work, I mentally know I’m away—I acknowledge with my family that I’m going away, that I’m going to both miss them and share that I enjoy that my work allows me the opportunity to meet people and experience cultures other than ours. It fills up my adventure and independence reservoirs too. I also promise my young sons treats. But this time, I was home. I was just not there, and when I finally was, I would be exhausted. Still, I’d need to shift gears to embrace my shared family responsibilities and relieve the compounded strains on my support system, including my husband.
One team member could see I was hitting a wall and asked why. I told them that the breaking point was that my older son had left a note on my toothbrush the night before “so I would be sure to see it.” It said, “I miss you. Come back.”
But as I said it out loud to her, something clicked. I stopped what I was doing, I briefly FaceTimed my sons and walked them around the office, showing them the big windows and my teammates, who waved. How proud I was, but that I missed them—and that both things were true at the same time. It was a minute, but it mattered (to all three of us). I wanted to them to know they were on my mind when the sun came through those same windows. They were amazed at how many computers were in one room and at the stacks of paper. They asked me to bring some home to color. With a big smile, I hung up and I released the tears in the corners of my eyes; so did my colleagues.
People at work know I have kids. I talk about the good and the hard, not all the time, but I hope enough for anyone who has them or who may want to have children someday to feel comfortable. I didn’t always feel comfortable myself, but now from the combination of getting used to being a working mom, my environment, and my role in it, I do. In fact, I feel a responsibility to over index this openness while also respecting the reality that so many people have their own private struggles on the road to motherhood and have many other major commitments and interests beyond work and family. For me, it’s also been important to “work out loud” with my kids. They know I have a job that I love with people I respect. They know it provides for us, but also that it makes me feel myself. It’s another kind of balance.
From CARRY STRONG by Stephanie Kramer, published by Penguin Life, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2023 by Stephanie Kramer.
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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
– The ultimate giveaway. Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott set off a frenzy among nonprofits when her organization Yield Giving issued a call for applications for grants worth $1 million. So far more than 6,000 organizations have applied. The 250 winners will be announced early next year. Associated Press
– Ship-shape. Kim Kardashian’s apparel company Skims is now worth $4 billion after a recent funding round. The company’s valuation is up $800,000 from last year and will give Skims momentum as it branches out into physical retail. New York Times
– Big Tech bias? American economist, professor, and Big Tech advisor Fiona Scott Morton has officially declined the position of chief competition economist at the European Union, citing “political controversy.” This decision comes after weeks of attacks from EU figures, including French President Emmanuel Macron, who were concerned about the economist’s non-EU citizenship and ties to Big Tech. Guardian
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Carmen Krueger has been appointed chief operating officer for North America at SAP North America. Dr. Shlomit Wagman has joined Rapyd as chief regulation and compliance officer. Shelli Taylor is retiring as CEO of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Sally Davies is the new managing director of legendary recording studio Abbey Road.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
– On board. Robyn Denholm, chair of Tesla and Australia’s technology council, has now been tapped to sit on the board of Harrison.ai, an Australian health care startup. The move comes as the startup, which uses artificial intelligence to flag abnormalities in X-rays and CT scans, looks to cultivate an international presence. Financial Times
– CIO inbound. Fortune was the first to report that Lúcia Soares is the new chief information officer at Carlyle Group, the private equity firm run by new CEO Harvey Schwartz, a former Goldman executive. Soares, a former Johnson & Johnson vice president, first joined Carlyle in 2019, Fortune
– Surprise appearance. Outrage ensued at a women’s rights conference in Rwanda this week when Hungarian President Katalin Novák, who is notoriously antiabortion and “anti-gender movement,” showed up to give a speech. Women Deliver, the organization that put on the event, claims that Novák was invited at the behest of the Rwandan government and that Women Deliver is “in no way aligned with the views of President Novák.” Guardian
ON MY RADAR
The Women’s World Cup advert that is challenging perceptions—and what it says about sport The Athletic
Could Facebook messages be used in abortion-related prosecution? The 19th
Suddenly, there is money in women’s golf New York Times
“I’m calling it the Fran Plan. The secret sauce is a lot of time to listen to everyone.”
—Fran Drescher on what’s next in SAG-AFTRA strike
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