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Why a former SoftBank partner is tackling mid-career drop-off for working mothers

Inflection point. As Kirthiga Reddy advanced in her career, becoming managing director for Facebook India and then the first female investing partner at SoftBank Vision Fund manager SoftBank Investment Advisors, she came up with a years-long strategy to balance her work and home lives.

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Moms and Careers — A paradigm shift

As a man, it never occurred to me to plan my job changes to coincide with the births of my kids. Two months after starting Eightfold, I learned that my wife was pregnant with our second child. While she suffered through nine miserable months of pregnancy (it was a particularly difficult one), I continued with my life. While she worried about things like iron deficiency anemia, gestational diabetes, depression and anxiety, fetal problems, high blood pressure, infections, hyperemesis gravidarum, and nausea, I was busy working and building Eightfold. As I reflected on the last few years, it became very apparent to me that there is a massive imbalance in our society — one that is preventing women from achieving true equality. Women are the primary caregivers and are expected to both take care of family and manage their careers at the same time.

Providing a few months of maternity leave is not enough. And neither is saying that paternity leave should be the same as maternity leave. What women endure through pregnancy, childbirth and nursing is just not the same as what their male partners do. And societal expectations of primary caregiving are not the same. How often have you heard of “soccer mom” (15M results on Google) vs “soccer dad” (just 1.2M results)?

Our commitment can’t be limited to maternity leave and some returnship related services. We need to do much more so that women in every stage of motherhood can thrive in their careers. So we couldn’t be more proud to introduce Laddrr — a platform providing holistic support across all stages to enable moms to climb higher in their careers. Stay tuned!

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The Business Case for Child Care

Moms can’t work without child care – period. And yet, child care too often is seen as an individual problem for families to solve. With original data developed by our knowledge partner McKinsey, we released a new report that shows amid the Great Resignation, expanded child care benefits can help companies attract, retain and advance women in the workforce.

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Life Goals: Enabling 10 million moms to climb higher

This Mother’s Day, I am grateful for the gift of motherhood. I feel blessed by the inordinate support I’ve had that allows me to pursue both a thriving career and deeply meaningful family goals. My mother did the unimaginable for her — flying solo from India to the US to help with my first-born when I was a year into my MBA at Stanford. Dev, my husband, booked a room near the offsite location of my Touchy Feely class and brought my daughter Ashna over for nursing breaks. After my second daughter was born, time off from my career wasn’t a choice, both because of financial reasons as well as personal drive. Dev has often been more than the 50-50 parent.

The stats show that this is an exception, not the norm. In India, there is 42% female enrollment in colleges, 32% in entry level jobs, and less than 1% at senior CXO levels. In the US, women increasingly outpace men in college graduation but at the top we still see mostly men. ~15% of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies are women. While in society, women are not the minority, in our corporate world, they are. Even in the 21st century, becoming pregnant or taking time off can end a woman’s career — even just a year without employment can result in 39% lower pay. And a woman with a flourishing career and great potential has to start all over again once she takes a break of 2-3 years.

This Mother’s Day, as I define the pillars of the impact I want to make over the next decade(s), one goal is to build a transformative, high-growth company serving creators in the web3 world – more on that over the next few months. The other is to make it my life’s work to partner with the ecosystem to enable ten million moms all over the globe to climb higher in their careers. Once we achieve that, we’ll get to the next ten million, and then the next. 

This is not a women’s problem. It impacts society & economies at large. I am thrilled to join forces with Ashutosh Garg, CEO & Co-founder, Eightfold.ai, and the father of two adorable boys, in this social impact mission. Plus, founding team members, Cindy, Deepika, Emily, Ishan and Parul. 

One of the leaders I admire, Carolyn Everson, taught me to define a big bold vision and share it. It’s 42% more likely to happen if you write it down. The odds are even higher when you share it. This Mother’s Day, I’m committing to enabling ten million moms across the globe to climb higher in their careers. More to come on this over the weeks. 

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Women in the Workplace

A year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, women in corporate America are even more burned out than they were last year—and increasingly more so than men. 

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The End of Mom Guilt

There was a drawer in a cabinet in my bedroom where my mother kept the congratulatory cards she’d received after I was born. When I was little, I liked to take them out and look at them.

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How Women Can Identify Male Allies in the Workplace

Women have faced significant obstacles attempting to climb up the ranks in the workplace. The journey continues to be fraught with many structural barriers that prevent them from gaining access to the same level of opportunities enjoyed by most men — from confidence hurdles, mommy-track narratives, boys’ clubs, and exclusion from professional and social networking to heightened barriers resulting from #MeToo, Covid-19, and racial violence. Women continue to struggle to find the support and advocacy they need and identify the allies who can help them.