How can we let people be productive on their own terms?
Why should we care about caring in the workplace? This is the question that Chris and Blessing Adesiyan will delve into in this episode. Blessing Adesiyan is the Founder & CEO of @Mother Honestly, a complete ecosystem reshaping the future of women and families at home and in the workplace. A chemical engineer by training, Blessing has worked for Microsoft, HP, PepsiCo, Cargill, DuPont, and BASF where she rose to senior leadership delivering value across Europe, Middle East, Africa, North America and Asia. The pandemic has laid bare the disproportionate burdens many women shoulder in caring for children or aging parents and highlighted the vital roles they have long played in the labor force. Indeed has partnered with Mother Honestly to elevate women and families, as the US grapples with nearly 1.5 million mothers yet to return due to the pandemic. How can we fix this? Chris and Blessing will try to find some answers.
- Hello everyone. I am Chris Hyams, CEO of Indeed and welcome to the next episode of Here to Help. At Indeed our mission is to help people get jobs. This is what gets us out of bed in the morning and what keeps us going all day and what powers that mission is people. Here to Help is a look at how experience, strength and hope inspires people to want to help others. I am very excited to introduce our very special guest for today's episode. Blessing Adesiyan is the founder and CEO of Mother Honestly, a community powered work, life, care platform that is transforming benefits for employers and employee caregivers. Blessing began her career in chemical engineering and led operational energy and global business solutions for various fortune 100 companies including PepsiCo, Cargill, DuPont, and BASF. Today, Mother Honestly has built sustainable home and workplace solutions that reach over 1 million women and families globally. Blessing is joining us today from Lagos, Nigeria. Blessing, thank you so much for talking with us today.
- Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here.
- Well, let's start where we always start these conversations. How are you doing today, right now?
- Well, I'm doing great. I just picked up my kids. So, it's around 4:00 PM here in Nigeria. So I picked up my kids from school because they're still very young, so I just kept them in a preschool and yeah. One of them literally tripped while we were, coming up the stairs. So, just another day, life in the big city as a mother of four.
- So Blessing you are the founder and CEO of Mother Honestly and for those that don't know, can you tell us what Mother Honestly is and what your mission is?
- Absolutely. So I started Mother Honestly, while I was still working and I can say it now, it's my former employer and they were very good to me. I was still working at BASF. It's a chemical company and I was in supply chain and I was super excited by my job and then I found out that I was expecting my second child and at that point, my first child was born in 2009 and so this was 2018. So you can imagine it was a nine year difference and so I started panicking because now my career was in high gears and my husband was also doing well. He was also working at BASF at the time. So we were both this, we were both having this high powered career and then now we're going to throw a baby into the mix. We had a nine year old and now it's going to be a 10 year old and a baby and so that was when I started thinking about how do I balance this, right? And so I started talking to a lot of my friends and during those conversations really asking, "How are you, how are you effectively combining work and family?" Because it doesn't I can't seem to understand how to piece this all together if I have to go back to work and continue taking care of my family and still travel the world. At that point, I was managing four or five different plants and so I would at any time be told, "Hey, we need to go to Mexico for this" and I would say, "Yes, let's go." and so now I have to really think about that. So I got really, really worried about my career and my future, and when I started talking to other women, they were like, "Yeah, didn't you know you had a child?" I said, "Well, she's now 10." Like maybe I forgot and so we started having this conversation about what will it take for women to thrive in the workplace? And I started interviewing, not just women. I started talking to men and that was when it hit me that we have not tried to solve for parents and caregivers in the workplace and that was when Mother Honestly came to be and it, the reality was, it's a community built by mothers for everyone because who else, other than mothers, to solve this caregiving crisis, that we've all found ourselves and this workplace that needs to be redesigned so every one of us can flourish as parents, as caregivers, as women of color, as gay LGBTQ. How do we all flourish in the workplace? So that is the question. That is the question that we have sought out to answer as a community.
- So, as I mentioned in the introduction, you started your career as a chemical engineer, and we're going to get more into Mother Honestly and all of the work that you're doing here, but can you talk a little bit about your early experiences, your life growing up and what led you to a career in engineering.
- Absolutely. So I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, for anyone who knows where that is. It's somewhere in West Africa and it's one of the largest country in Africa. So I grew up as a third girl, so we had eight kids. My dad had eight kids and it was four girls first and then the last four were boys and so my dad always wanted he always wanted a boy after the first girl, the second girl, as the typical African man, he said, "Whoa, I need a boy." and here I was another girl and so when I was growing up we just had a great time growing up, my family. we had a great childhood and I remember my dad always saying I would be his German doctor. At that time he was obsessed with doctors in Germany and I told him, I said, "No, I'm going to I'm going to go to school and study engineering." And actually he was very surprised because at that time there weren't a lot of women, in Nigeria studying engineering and so I did very well in math and physics and I went on to study chemical engineering at the University of Florida and I remember I think my background as a chemical engineer, has always taught me to be a problem solver. I started my career as a capital project team leader managing multimillion dollar portfolios and projects across high hazard operations, manufacturing and so when I moved from that to operations, to supply chain to energy management, at that point your degree doesn't really matter anymore, right? You're just now a problem solver. And so I did that for about 12 years in various roles, across various organizations and it was, of course, during that time, I stumbled on this idea about reimagining care in the workplace and I thought, well, why don't we apply the same organizational principles, right? Around elevating processes and businesses? Why don't we apply the same organizational principle to the issue of care? Because I was falling of the edge, My father had brain tumor. I have four kids and I still wanted to be an ambitious woman. I still wanted to feel fulfilled and energized and I couldn't do it all. I couldn't do it all and so I needed support and I started talking to so many other women, so many other families, and they said, "We need support too. This is too much, this is unsustainable." And so, yeah, that was my background and that was what led me to Mother Honestly today.
- So can you talk a little bit about just moving from the world that you were in of the fortune 100 engineering profession into starting a company, and what did that look like for you and your family and your four kids and what did you learn about yourself in that process?
- Ooh, that was tough, I have to tell you. What was crazy about that time when I look back was I was starting Mother Honestly, I was studying an MBA in a top business school, I had two kids and I was pregnant with a third and I had just received a double promotion at work. And, oh, by the way, I started the parent caregiver at BASF. So I had five big things going on at the same time and so when I look back, that transition was really, really tough and I'm going to tell you why. It was tough because I not only had to, get the work done. I also had to make sure that my kids were fine. I had to make sure my home was running properly. I had to make sure that my extended family, I come from a large family and again, family of 10, right? So I had to make sure I was one of the eldest and so I had to make sure that my younger ones were all doing fine. So it was really and truly a very challenging period. My father was also sick at the same time. So I was caring for an elderly parent. So when we talk about the sandwich generation, that was something that I experienced firsthand during that time as well and I think that that experience really shaped what Mother Honestly is today, which is expanding, not just speaking to women, but also speaking to anyone who has a caregiving responsibility. What made that transition really helpful was really having the right support. My partner was supportive. So he was the one doing the groceries, he was the one putting the kids to bed because I told him, I said, "Babe, we got to do this, right? Like, I really feel like this is a problem that needs to be solved in the world and I feel like I'm equipped to do it. So I really need your support." And that man would scrub the toilets on weekends while I go to a coffee shop and send emails and put together flyers . It was a fun and challenging period. Another thing that we did was we got a live-in nanny and I know a lot of people would gasp about that. That was a decision that we had to make because it was just too much for us. First of all, we feel very privileged to do that but second of all, what that taught me was that you can truly get support that you need when you prioritize what is most important to you. At that point, what was important to me was somebody helping me with doing the laundry. Helping me with making sure that the grocery meals were prepped. Being there when the kids were dropped off 'cause I couldn't be there for all three kids at the same time. My husband was also working a very challenging job as well. He was also an engineer, he's an electrical engineer. So we had a lot going on and we needed one stable person in the house and so when we see women leave the workforce, this is exactly the the situation, right that leads to women leaving in the workforce because you can't do everything at the same time and so I made the decision to say, "Hey, I can't. I know if I stay home, I'm going to lose my mind. So we need to outsource this." And that was the best decision that we ever made. It was tough. We didn't go on vacation for four years. I mean, heck, we haven't been on vacation since, my son was born. He's now four and a half. So we've not been on vacation for close to five years now because of those kind of decisions. But it paid off for me because I was able to prioritize my mental health and really prioritize the work that I do now.
- So let's talk about that work and specifically this idea that you talk about of workplace care. So I think there's a lot of conversations that we have about work life balance and about work well-being but can you talk about this idea of workplace care and what that means to you?
- So when I started my work at Mother Honestly, initially when I first started I had an hypothesis. My hypothesis was that if women could just do more, right? If we could just do the color coding, manage our time walk into our boss's office and ask for that promotion and really lean in that was when leaning conversation was really taking off. So I thought we could be ambitious and we could really get things done in the workplace and so that was a little bit of the energy when we started Mother Honestly. And then as I started talking to women, of course, it's a business school theme at that time where you have to go out and collect the voice of the customer. So I said, "Wait a minute, Blessing. before you go too far, why don't you collect the voice of the customer?" And so I started just interviewing moms. I mean, I spoke to at least a thousand mothers in 2019 and I would ask them what does it mean what do you mean this is not working, why? and they would say, "Blessing. I have two kids. My husband comes home late one of them has special needs my husband is sick or is disabled." They had different reasons why things weren't working out. No amount of color coding, no amount of time management could solve that problem and so I started to realize that this is not this has nothing to do with this women, right? A lot of us have gone and received one of the best we've received the best education in the world. Women are earning higher, more degrees than men in a lot of areas and low and behold, we are still here not progressing and why is that? And so that was when I realized that, whoa, I have it all wrong. The workplace was not designed for us. And so in order for us to really accomplish anything in the workplace, we have to take that energy, right? That energy when I started Mother Honestly, I said, "We have to take that energy into the workplace." And so I stopped talking to women and I faced employers and I said, "What are you doing? Please tell me, like, how are you supporting your employees? How are you making this work for them?" And they said, "Well we have some DEI initiatives and we're just there's an ERG group." They all had something, but it was not working. So that was when the concept of work-life, care came to be, which is how do we make sure similar to healthcare, dental care, how do we make sure that we design care that allows everyone to flourish at home and in the workplace and so what does that mean? What does that mean for the employer and what does that mean for the employee? Because a lot of time when we talk about care benefits or care solutions, we're always talking about, "Oh, the employer needs to do this. The employer needs to do that." But when we talk about work-life, care in this context, it is, "What can managers do? What can HR do? What can the employee themselves? How can you make sure that you are doing your best work? How do you make sure that you're doing something that you love?" Because when you're doing something you love, then it doesn't really matter, right? At that point, you're able to really share how you're feeling, right? Because you're doing something you love and you're able to speak. You're able to parent out loud, right? You're able to say, "Hey, like I really have this report that I need to turn in today but my my daughter just tripped down the stairs. It's going to take me another 30 minutes." And everybody understands because they know that you love your job and your manager, because they also have that tool kit of care. They're able to say, "Yes, that's okay we'll wait another 30 minutes or we'll wait another day. Work goes on." And so those are the kind of concept we started exploring when it comes to work-life, care. It's this idea that we can truly value care in the workplace, right?
- Now, one of the things that you've talked about that I think many people probably haven't thought about is this idea that that care in the workplace is subsidized, but it's subsidized for a certain group of people. Can you explain what you mean by that?
- Oh, absolutely. Oh my God, Chris. That is a topic that really gets me excited. And it's something that I talk about when I get emotional, because I said it before that the workplace wasn't designed for women and the reality is that it was designed for men and no offenses to men in the group, because my husband is a guy and I tell him all the time I said, in fact, there was a day my husband looked at me and was like, "Wow, the world is really rigged against you all, right?" Because we worked at BASF together and the things that he got away with, I wasn't able to get away with it. When I come in and I say, "My daughter is sick" or "something happened" I get this eye like, "Ooh, yeah, right, another excuse" But when he comes in and he says, "Oh I had to drop off my daughter. It's like, great work, look at you!" So he came home one day and he said, "Wow I think because of everything you say about Mother honestly, I now pick off a lot of this, differences, right, that exist in the workplace." And so, yeah. So it's subsidized a lot, especially for white men, right? Because a lot of men, if you look at it we designed the workplace to fit the lifestyle of a man who has a stay at home wife, that made his lunch and his breakfast and sends him off to work and she then takes the kids to school and so now the man is literally focused on his work and he's able to productive and it worked back then. But now we are in a situation where women have now, made their way into the workplace and we are now seeking a workplace that allows us to thrive and for us to bring our full self right into that workplace and we've found, we've met a lot of resistance, right? Because those men are telling us, "No, this is not how it's done." Like in the workplace you come in and you literally leave all your baggage your kid is sick, your whatever, we don't care, right? What we care about is you get the work done. But Chris, I'm sure you talk about this all the time. A lot of time that doesn't work, right? Because we are human and we are human beings and a lot of our experiences cannot, we can't just stop thinking about a sick dad with a brain tumor or a sick partner and so how do we make sure that this workplace that has been heavily subsidized for men works for women? So that is the work that we are doing here at Mother Honestly.
- Yeah and that conversation is one that I think has taken root since the pandemic where, you and I spoke about this last week in our prep for this discussion that before the pandemic, if I asked you, "How are you doing?" Most people, certainly in America would say, "Oh, I'm doing great," or "I'm doing fine." And that's why we actually start these conversations with that question, "How are you doing?" Because suddenly in March of 2020, people started giving honest answers to that question and we are seeing through these little windows here, an actual window into people's lives, that it turns out are far more complicated than we ever really allowed in the workplace and my hope is that this is something that this awareness and this compassion that's come from that will extend beyond people now coming back into offices for those people who were fortunate enough during the pandemic to be able to work from home. And so one of the things about the impact of the pandemic that we talked about, and the US here, the numbers are pretty staggering, 1.5 million mothers suspended their careers and are yet to return specifically because the pandemic disrupted their children's lives and can you talk about what the role is that we all play to help elevate women and families, and to try to correct some of these things so that doesn't become a permanent state?
- Well, I started with something simple and I think I shared this with you. I think all men should do laundry. I think that's where we start. It's a very simple task and it's something that we can all check in at work to see, "Who did laundry this week?" Because it's so important, right? For us to really start bringing our humanity into the workplace. A lot of time managers don't understand what I'm going through and so, because of that, I want to hide everything. I told you when my father had a brain tumor, I was also a single mother at the time and my father said "You have to take me to the MRI every week on Monday and Wednesdays and Fridays," because they were monitoring the brain tumor. It was very latch and he was trying to not do the operation right away. He was trying to buy more time, even though we were very against it, we said, "Okay, no problem. I'll take you." So we had this Monday, Wednesday, Friday MRI and so many other appointments in between and at the same time, I had to drop off my daughter and pick up my daughter at the same time. So I have drop off and pick up, and then appointments in between and I also had my job to do. But my manager already knew at the time that I was a single mother and so it was already making some snarky comments about, "Yeah my wife drops off our kid, can you get some support?" And I said, "No, I'm a single mom. There's no support anywhere for me." So, I still do the drop off and the pick up. The best I could do is get an after school. So we got an after school and that extended the time a little bit. But so now I'm a little worried, right, because whoa, how do I tell this man that I now have my dad to take care of, right? So the workplace has not really, we haven't exactly figured out how to allow people like myself bring that humanity into the workplace. And so what does that mean? It means that I cant be transparent with you. I don't trust you. I believe that you're not empathetic enough to my situation, my current situation as a single mother so therefore, I would not tell you about my dad and so now I'm trying, I'm sneaking in and out of work. You need to see me. I was like in ninja. I would stand by this was when we're still in the office so I would stand and make sure that he left for lunch, and that was when I took off to go pick up my dad and I would swing right back and kind of just sneak into my chair. Sometimes, he was like, "Where are you coming from?" and I'm like, "Oh I went to this other department to go figure out something, and now I'm back." So I was pretty much lying my way through. I mean, I have to be honest. But I was very worried because I didn't want to lose my job. And so when women left the workforce, it was because the caregiving and the domestic responsibilities lies entirely on women. And we haven't exactly figured out a way to support women at home and who are the people that need to support women at home, right? Men, men. So until we value care at home, we can't value care in the workplace. If my manager was able to value care at home, if he was actually the one doing some drop offs for his daughter and not his wife, if he was taking care of a sick relative, he probably would've said, "You know what? I understand. So why don't you shift your schedule a little bit? Why don't you take as much time you need for drop off and then maybe when you go pick up, afterwards, you can you can get back on your laptop and get X, Y, and Z done." But he wasn't empathetic enough. He had no clue how anything was done at home and so therefore, he was not able to extend that empathy in the workplace. So these are just examples of how and of course, it was no surprise, right, when the pandemic came and women had to leave, because gee, who else was going to do it? We saw everything. Men were hiding in their office taking calls I mean, some men, maybe not all but a good proportion of men were in their office while mom was I was, I know I was in the kitchen. I was in the kitchen on my laptop, working and flipping pancakes, right? Just to make sure that my kids were fed and no offense to my husband. He's a great guy, but he was like, "Hello? Joining the 8:00 AM call." So, these are the things, right? So why don't even in the pandemic, I look back, why did we start meetings at eight O'clock still? Why? It didn't make any sense. We were working our behinds off from 8:00 AM sometimes till seven, 8:00 PM. Some people were even working through the night because they were trying to catch up on missed work. So these were the issues and now we have women back in the workplace, right? And so how do we make sure that women are coming back to a workplace that works for them?
- So that does lead to this question now about the future of work or the future that's already here. As people are coming back into the office and trying to figure out the work from home, the hybrid model, the in office. How do you look at that through the lens of care?
- Wow, I think that we need to let people be productive on their own terms and that's one of the amazing things I love about Indeed. When I spoke to some of the women, especially in the caregivers group. Some said, "Hey, Blessing, I'm working from home now", right? Some said, "I love working in the office so I'm doing hybrid." And I think that that is where we need to get to is giving employees the opportunity to have a say in where they work and how they work. It doesn't mean that and this is why I believe that it needs to be a two-way street, right? It doesn't mean that employees are just going to go around and doing whatever they like. But I think that it allows us to say, "Look, we know that in order to be productive, you need to be in a good place." My five year old son was talking to my daughter and they were playing golf, mini golf. And my daughter, my five year old was, he was just doing so well. He was hitting it and my daughter was like, "Whoa, what is going on?," right? So she goes to him and says, "Dicomy you're doing so well. Right? Like, wow, I'm so proud of you." and he said, "Well, do you want to play like me?" And she said, "Yeah, of course, I want to play like you." And he said, "Well, let me tell you something." And my daughter leans in and he says, "You just got to have good energy. You got to feel good about yourself. Got to feel good about yourself and have good energy." And that is exactly what we need in a workplace. We need people to feel good about themselves, because if you don't feel good about yourself, there's no way you can do your best work. It's not about deleting meetings. It's not about making people work longer hours or forcing people to come into the workplace. What we need is for people to feel really good about themself. For people to feel motivated. That is the key ingredient to the future of work. That is the key ingredient to the hybrid, remote. For me, it doesn't even matter because sometimes I'm like, "Gee, I want to go into the office. I really want to get out of this, babies are crying and no, I don't want to be here. I want to be where I can really focus and go heads down." And some days I don't want to leave my house. I just want to focus on get the kids out of the house or have them in a play area so I can quickly get my work done. So flexibility is not even a, it's a spectrum. There is no real definition to it and that is what we need to understand. So as women come back into the workplace, which a lot of women have returned to the workplace, a lot of parents, men included, are returning to the workplace. We need to make sure that when we define flexibility, it needs to be flexibility on everybody's terms. It needs to be flexibility on the terms of the employer and it needs to be flexibility on the parts of the employee. That is the only way we can achieve success in the workplace.
- So earlier this year, we announced a partnership between Indeed and Mother Honestly, and we did a series of events earlier in August. Can you talk a little bit about the partnership and how that came about?
- Absolutely. So, I can't remember how Indeed found us, which I'm super excited that Indeed found us. Indeed is one of the best partners we've had this year and I mean that with every fiber in me. We've had a wonderful, wonderful time and experience with everyone, Kate Black and Dawn and Taylor. Just really amazing people. They've been lockstep with us every single day since we started a partnership and so we started with how do we get more women, right, to how do we help them find good jobs? And so I came up with a theme of level up, right? Women had just left the workforce and they were coming back and so the idea was, how do we make sure that when women come back into the workplace, they're not starting back from scratch, right? That they are actually elevating their career, that they have a path, right, to success in the workplace and so that was where the idea for level up came about. And so we started talking to women about, okay, How do you find a new career? How do you find a new job? And then if you already have a job, how do you keep that job, right? How do you stay fulfilled? How do you stay excited and energized about what you're doing? So, so far, we've the level of podcast, newsletters, the conference, we've reached thousands and thousands of women and families and we recently had an interview readiness, I think was an interview readiness exchange with Indeed as well and that went really. We were able to source over 100 women to do a mock up interview and get them ready to for success, right, as they, as they go about their new job. So that has been an exciting moment for us and now we are are talking about 2023 because I'm on a roll. I'm having a great time with Indeed. A lot of our moms come to us and they're like, "Whoa, is this an Indeed company or Mother Honesty?" and I'm like, "Well, it's both" it's both. We are here to elevate care in the workplace and Indeed has been a wonderful partner in that regards because we cant achieve this alone. We can't do this alone. We need employers like Indeed, who are walking the talk and who are willing to go the extra mile, right? And that has been a true benefit, not just for myself, but for my team and for women in our community.
- So since, as you laid out very, very clearly, the workplace wasn't created with equity at the core, and wasn't created with care at the core, how can employers start to think about ways to essentially rebuild the workplace with care at the core?
- I think it starts with transparency. I think it starts with transparency and trust. That sounds like the double T. It sounds like transparency and trust and we can only have that by having conversations. I cannot I can't say this enough, we need to have conversations because a lot of time, when I just spoke about my son, right? There's an assumption that that boy is healthy, right? There's an assumption that he's doing well, he's great, he's fantastic but what most people don't know that this is the same boy, right, that literally just tripped and almost he, I mean, he has a huge scar now on his neck and I have to go tend to that right after this. There's an assumption that your partner is healthy, right? And we have so many people in the workplace, that have sick partners, disabled children, so many LGBTQ, family and friends that have, they have choice family, right, because maybe they don't have a family of their own, and now they have choice family and they are worried about those people as well. And so how do we make sure that workplace also works for those people? How do we make sure that workplace works for a single mother, right, that doesn't have any backup? I remember when I used to work for DuPont. I was traveling. I used to travel across Europe, Middle East and Asia and there was a time I was in Morocco and I had to literally pack my daughter up. I was a single mom at the time. So I took Tayo from Philadelphia and drove all the way to Wilmington, Delaware, dropped her off with a friend and drove back to Philadelphia to fly to Morocco. And so Tayo was with her for two weeks, right? And so now I had no support, no care except for this wonderful friend and thank God for her, right, or I will be nowhere. So I have no family in United States. It's just me. And so how is the workplace supposed to work for me? I called my boss I said, "Oh Brian, is there a way you can support me? I've worked so hard this year. We've made millions of dollars. Can you at least support with childcare?" And it's "Oh, no, oh no, Blessing. Tim doesn't have Tim has never made a request and he's been working with the company for 10 years." He named all of these people and I said, "Well, no offense, but these are all men, whose care is subsidized by their partners. I don't have a partner and even if I have a partner he's probably a man, right? That also has his own career and his own job." And so I came back from that job and I, I had to really sit down to think about if I wanted to continue. And two weeks later I left that company because I felt like I wasn't considered, right? I felt like I was not prioritized. I felt like they didn't care about me. They didn't care about my daughter and so that was very personal for me and so in order for us to really start having the conversation about care in the workplace, we need to start having conversations with people. We need to start asking, "How are you doing? What can I help with?" Maybe even a check-in. I call it a care check-in where we just check-in with each other. It doesn't have to be every day, can be once a week. It can be in a group meeting to say, "How is everyone? How are we doing with care this week?" Because everyone has a caregiver responsibility and there's an assumption that it's only moms. That's not true. So many people have elderly parents. So many people have left because as of a sick child, it has nothing to do with ma maternity, right? It has nothing to do with adoption. This is now just the day to day. I had a friend who said, "I have a chronic disease and so I don't even have to go to the hospital. Sometimes I'm at work with my with my chronic disease." And so even just checking in with personally, with people to say, "I just want to make sure you're okay." And I think once we start having that conversation, we will start understanding the caregiving responsibilities of our team. A lot of team, a lot of managers, a lot of companies have no idea the exchange to which caregiving affects their team or the performance of their team, right? They would just come to you and say, "Chris we didn't hit this quarter. We this happened and that happened." It's not true. Half of the time we know that productivity is only down because people have an enormous amount of caregiving responsibility that that has not been acknowledged. And so when we want to talk about care in the workplace, we just need to start with checking in with each other.
- So you you've touched on this, but can you talk about the role that men need to play in this transformation? It's clearly centuries or millennia old structural system and mindset that men don't turn to those thoughts of care. So, what is the role that men need to play and how does that transformation happen?
- Chris I think we are just a lazy generation. I think we are, because we talk about the gender equity gap, right? And we say, "Oh, it's going to take 130 years." Really? We had a vaccine in two years, under two years, maybe a year, right? When we said we all now need to work from home very quickly, we were able to scale Zoom. We were able to scale. I mean, WebEx changed overnight. So many people changed their way of life, just like that. But somehow when it comes to the issue of gender equity, when it comes to the role women play in the workplace, that is going to take 135 years. I'm not following. And so I think that this is because men do not value care, right? And this is why I say that it should be paramount to if we really want to take the advancement of women in the workplace seriously, if we really want to take the care, a lot of time, we believe that care is a woman's issue, right? If we really want to say, "Hey, care is everyone's issue, right?" Then we all need to commit to it. We need to commit... and I think that we can even commit individually, as a company to say, "Here at Indeed, we are going to close the gender equity gap in 10 years." And so what does that mean? It means that as a C-level executive, right, start with doing laundry at home. We're going to talk about that at we're going to talk about that when we check-in every month or what have you. I'm just using laundry as an example, there are so many other things it could be dropping off your kids. There are so many lists, right, of things that we could be doing, because really at the center of it is that if men truly value care, we would've closed the gender equity gap and I think that we made some progress, right, with the pandemic, because suddenly my husband is is the one doing half of the chores at home, is running around doing groceries and cleaning up and all that because they could see, right, that, wow, this is serious. And that was because it became visible, that care work became visible and a lot of the men that stepped up were the men that fully considered their partners, right? So what is it about men that we have not been able to turn that switch to say, "How do we care at home? How do we consider our partner? How do we consider what is happening in our family?" And I think even the workplace, we have a lot to do with that. When it comes to paid parental leave, right? It needs to be equitable. It needs to be equitable because, guess what? Those first I used to work for BASF and they gave the men eight weeks and the women had 16 weeks. Those first eight weeks, gee you are just even trying to get your bearings, right? And so then the last eight weeks, the man has disappeared. Some of them don't even take it. I had to fight tooth and nail with my husband when he took his paid parental leave. I said, "You have to take that leave. I don't care what your manager says. We have four kids now, I'm sorry, dude. you just have to figure it out." And he paid for it because he went back to the workplace and guess what? His manager was extremely upset because Mark "Mark only took two weeks. This was Marks's first born and he only took two weeks. How dare you take eight weeks?" So we need to put our foot down in the workplace and say, "I don't care. Everyone has to take their paid parental leave, period." And it doesn't matter if you come back and say, "Oh no it was because I was working on a huge project." Well, sorry somebody else will take over that and when you come back, you can continue, but you are not going to prioritize work over this moment that you're never going to get back. That is your humanity. You're never going to get it back. I mean, think about it. When I was pregnant with my fourth child and my husband had to take over giving our kids bath and I would make dinner and he would take the kids up, give them a bath and put them in their pajamas and put them to bed and one day I decided, okay, I'm just going to walk up the stairs so I can just see what they're doing. So I walk up the stairs and I see my husband, he'd already showered one child and placed the child next to on the bed and went back into the bathroom and washed off the bathtub. He laid down the bath mats and he brought out another set of toys, which was for the second child and he's singing and they're all just having fun. and I was like, "This is humanity, right? This is what the workplace would've taken away from him and for what? Right?" But guess what, when he returns into the workplace, now he's even more motivated because those are the children that he is fighting for every day. So he now is more motivated to do his best work. So these are the things that we need to find ways I don't have all the answers, but how do we find ways to ensure that we are leaving room for humanity in the workplace? That it's not just about hitting all the numbers because we're going to hit those numbers. We are going to hit those numbers. We've seen that. When the pandemic came and everybody went home and we thought, "Oh, nobody's going to get anything done. It's all going to be productivity is going to be down." Well that was not true, right? Productivity went up. So that already is an experiment that when we give people flexibility, when we trust people and we allow that humanity to take shaping their lives, that wonderful things can actually happen.
- Well, that is really beautiful. I think wrap up. I could keep talking for a very long time here, but we need to come to a close and so I'm going to ask you the same question that I always ask at the end, which is really looking back over the last two and a half years, especially through the lens of this pandemic, with all the challenges that we've all faced. What, in the middle of all that, has left you with any optimism for the future?
- Oh, I'm excited. I'm filled with hope and optimism because I actually see we are moving in the right direction. I see a lot of men, like my husband, like my friend's husband who in the past, literally missed his child's birth because he had to travel for work and it was an important project, right? Which didn't end up getting approved, but he missed this child's birth and now he has prioritized, right, taking his child to the dentist, taking his child to the pediatrician's office, taking his child to soccer games and all of these different things. I'm seeing that a lot of men, they've realized that, in order for us to really, we need to make sure that every aspect of our lives are working, right? It can't just be that work is working for us and that our homes are not working, right? Or that our family, right? Our parents, our village is not working. It's only there's a difference in Nigeria and America and I'm going to tell you. We prioritize our village, right? Our parents, brothers, sisters, their kids you sort of need to make sure that they're fine. Even though they know your kids you're like what, I got to make sure. Right? So there's a lot of prioritization that goes there because those are the people that catches us, right, when we fall but we have not left room for the average American to even prioritize their extended family. We haven't even left room for them to prioritize their current family and so we know so many of us say "Where's the village?", right? Well, the village no longer exists because we didn't care about the village. And so how do we bring care and heart into our work, into the workplace and into our homes? And I think that it needs to go both ways, right? It needs to be men and women doing the work. Women being able to let go and let men do certain things. Like I said, I had to just turn away from my husband doing the bath duties. That's on you. You do the conception, you do the planning, you do the execution, right? So instead of asking me, "Where are the bath toys?" He went online and he ordered the bath toys from Amazon, and now he has bath toys. And so really trusting our partners, trusting our managers having that conversation. A lot of time we believe managers know everything. I have been there where I'm like, "Why is this lady not paying attention to me? Why doesn't she know that I have this, or I have that responsibilities?" But a lot of time they also have their own personal issues, right? They have other things that they're dealing with as well. So having that conversation with them as well and saying, "Hey, this is where I think we can shift this a little bit. I need support here, but I'm willing to do extra here", right? So those are some of the ways that we've been able to really talk about this issue of, hope and optimism, right? Because the only way we can even have optimism is by doing the work. A lot of time we believe that, oh, it's all kumbaya. No, we have to have that difficult conversations and say, "Chris I think that in order for us to really hit this productivity numbers, we really need to be more flexible in how we do X, Y, and Z." Right? So being transparent, really trusting that the other person can hear us. They can see us, that they can support us will also way a long way.
- Well, Blessing. Thank you so much. This has been an extraordinary conversation. I'm so just grateful to get the chance to sit down and talk to you about this, but I'm so grateful to everything that you do for women and for everyone around the world and look forward to a long and fruitful partnership.
- Thank you so much, Chris. It's been a pleasure working with your team, working with Indeed and it's truly amazing to see all the amazing things that Indeed is doing, not just for women, but for everyone and I think that you are all onto something here at Indeed, especially when it comes to how is the future really going to work, right? And the future will only work when we center care and when we value care and commit to it. And so Indeed is committing to care. So that's amazing to see.
- Well, thanks and have a wonderful day and thanks everyone for joining us.
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