How working moms can survive and thrive the corporate climb

How working moms can survive and thrive the corporate climb »Play Video
Erin Hubert is the CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Portland.

The Problem Solvers have surprising advice for moms trying to climb the corporate ladder. It comes from women who've risen to the top ranks in business.

First, consider this: According to the Portland Business Journal's list of the Top Paid Portland CEOs of local public companies, only two out of the top 25 are women.

Some other statistics to consider: While women earn nearly 60 percent of undergraduate and master's degrees, less than 9 percent hold top management positions in their companies.

One of the determining factors of success is how women handle the elusive balance between work and kids.

"I had all men as my mentors," recalls Erin Hubert. Hubert is the CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Portland.

Before that, she headed Entercom Communications. She also ran the business side of  the Portland Trail Blazers, while raising two sons with her husband, Stan.

She says her corporate climb has been riddled with guilt, mostly from other moms.

"I'd show up with the Oreos; they'd have the home baked cookies," remembers Hubert. "But the Oreos always went first," she laughs.

Teresa Taylor is the former COO of Qwest and author of "The Balance Myth: Rethinking Work-Life Success."

"I literally had women in my office, saying don't give me this next promotion," says Taylor. "Don’t give me the next project. I can’t do it. I can barely get to Friday."

To stay in the work game, Taylor offers this advice:

  • Be present. Whether it's at work or home, be there. The split won't always be 50/50.
  • Assign time limits and stick to them. Do what you can at work or home and then move on.
  • Combine your work and home calendars. It's easier to see your commitments and then make choices.

And Taylor says power through the difficult years and don't pull out mid-career.

"The business world moves too fast," says Taylor. "The office is going to change. All the supervisors are going to change. You just can't come back. I see a lot of women right now who took 10 or 15 years off and are hoping to come back at the same level as when they left, and it just isn't realistic."

Hubert disagrees.

"It they want to go back badly enough and they're clear on what they want to do, you can keep yourself update," she insists. "You can stay connected. You can make it happen."

While she's always worked, Hubert herself stepped back, leaving the Blazers when her kids were middle schoolers, for a less-demanding job.

"It was the right choice," says Hubert. "It was absolutely the right choice."

As both women point out, when things are not working at home, it's impossible to be happy at work.