Working Moms Get an Apology — From a New Mom

ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
Feb 2016
Hero Image
Photo: Tory Williams

Katharine Zaleski is proving it’s never too late to say “I’m sorry.” And her apology is directed at her fellow working moms.

“I’m sorry to all the mothers I used to work with,” she writes in a commentary for Fortune. "I didn’t realize how horrible I’d been – until I had a child of my own.”

The former Huffington Post and Washington Post manager is now the co-founder and President of  PowerToFly, a platform that matches women in skilled tech and digital positions that they can do from home. And her road to epiphany was ruthless. In fact, she lists some of her infractions against moms:

  • I secretly rolled my eyes at a mother who couldn’t make it to last minute drinks with me and my team. I questioned her “commitment” even though she arrived two hours earlier to work than me and my hungover colleagues the next day.
  • I didn’t disagree when another female editor said we should hurry up and fire another woman before she “got pregnant.”
  • I scheduled last minute meetings at 4:30pm all of the time. It didn’t dawn on me that parents might need to pick up their kids at daycare. I was obsessed with the idea of showing my commitment to the job by staying in the office “late” even though I wouldn’t start working until 10:30 am while parents would come in at 8:30 am.

But five years later, Zaleski gave birth to a daughter of her own. And she felt her carefully-constructed career start to slip away.

“I was now a woman with two choices: go back to work like before and never see my baby, or pull back on my hours and give up the career I’d built over the last ten years,” she writes. “When I looked at my little girl, I knew I didn’t want her to feel trapped like me.”

During her maternity leave, Zaleski was approached by Milena Berry with the idea to start PowerToFly. That’s when a new perspective opened up: one that proved moms could come close to having it all. Crazy commutes are replaced with the ability to pick up kids from school.

“I wish I had known five years ago, as a young, childless manager, that mothers are the people you need on your team,” she says. “There’s a saying that ‘if you want something done then ask a busy person to do it.’ That’s exactly why I like working with mothers now.”

Read all of her story — and apology — on Fortune.com. And if you’re a mom, go do a victory lap after; you’ll be feeling pretty empowered.

 

Style of the Week: Hilary Duff’s Baby Luca

Elena Donovan Mauer
Contributing Writer
Published
04/03/2012

JetBlue Kicks Family of Crying Toddler Off Plane

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
07/31/2015

Zika and Birth Defects: What Pregnant Women Need to Know

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
01/19/2016

The Age When Women Start Turning Into Their Mothers, According to Survey

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
03/19/2019

The Best (and Worst) Breastfeeding Moments of 2015

Jessica Shortall
Contributing Writer
Published
12/30/2015

Ryan Reynolds Explains Why Baby James's Name Was Kept a Secret

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
03/20/2015

Flight Attendants Celebrate Couple Flying Home With Newly Adopted Baby

Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
02/14/2020