Menu

You know when you watch shows like Mad Men and cringe as you witness the sexist, patronizing and downright gross environments that women had to work in? "Thank goodness it's not like that anymore," we might say with a sigh of relief.

Well, hold on to your pencil skirts, mamas.

The Huffington Post recently shared a story in which they report on a 2018 training at Ernst & Young, one of the largest accounting firms. This training entitled "Power-Presence-Purpose" was allegedly intended to help women do better in the workplace, apparently by pretending that it is 1960.

Huffington Post shared a few quotes pulled directly out of the presentation:

FEATURED VIDEO

Women should strive to be "polished," having a "good haircut, manicured nails, well-cut attire that complements your body type."

"Don't flaunt your body―sexuality scrambles the mind (for men and women)."

Women should be aware of their tendencies to "speak briefly... scramble and miss the point" when speaking at a meeting.

(and my personal favorite):

"Women's brains absorb information like pancakes soak up syrup so it's hard for them to focus, the attendees were told. Men's brains are more like waffles. They're better able to focus because the information collects in each little waffle square."

Training participants were also asked to complete a self-assessment, in which they were to evaluate themselves on their "masculine/feminine qualities."


Ernst & Young was unavailable for comment when we called, but they have acknowledged publicly that an outside firm led the training, and they regret the messages shared.

Kelly Grier, managing partner of Ernst & Young, stated, "Let me start by saying how deeply I regret the negative association that this program has had on EY in the media, and to acknowledge that mistakes have been made...We celebrate differences and authenticity and the courage of conviction, and we encourage bold leadership and a culture of belonging," Grier said.

Okay. So a (pretty big) mistake was made, and they will, or they won't make it right. If anything, I was excited to see the backlash against this because it means that the world has, in fact, changed it's Mad Men ways (or is at least starting to), and this type of attitude is no longer acceptable.

But, like with every news story I read, my mind instantly goes to my children. What does my parental response to this news need to be?

I need to ensure that I am instilling the values that will enable my children to call trainings like this into question, instead of accepting them as truth.

Studies that find that starting at around age 12, girls experience a dramatic drop in confidence, but boys don't. There are many reasons behind this, but perhaps the most striking is this, shared in The Atlantic:

"...at an early age, parents and teachers frequently encourage and reward girls' people-pleasing, perfectionistic behavior, without understanding the consequences."

The consequence is seminars that teach women they have pancake brains.

In a way, I am selfishly appreciative that this issue has presented, because it serves as a sharp reminder that while we've made incredible advances, there is still so much work to be done.

Here are five things I am going to recommit to (for my daughter and my sons):

1. I will be hyper-aware of my language around my children

I vow to never let my children hear me complain about my body. And, I will renew my efforts to choose positive words around them. Instead of telling my daughter not to be bossy, I am going to say, "You're a good leader. Let's give your little brother a turn to practice being the leader now."

2. I will not make assumptions about my children based on their genders

There is no action, behavior or emotion that is made acceptable or unacceptable based on my child's gender.

3. I will teach my children that I trust their decision-making skills

It is so tempting to jump in and solve every little problem that creeps in throughout the day. While that is a temporary fix, in the long run, it does not teach them that they can depend on themselves.

An example of this happened just the other night when my daughter was really upset that an afterschool errand would mean she had to delay getting her homework done. "I won't be able to get it all done, mom!" Instead of jumping to the rescue—"I'll help you, don't worry"—I said,

"Have you done hard things before?"
"Yes," she answered.
"Since you've done hard things before, do you think you could do something hard again?"
… "yes" (although begrudgingly)

4. I will let them talk back to me

This one is hard. I have never been a "back-talker." I still struggle with it as an adult; which is precisely why I need to let my kids talk back.

They need to know that it is okay to have an opinion, even if it differs from the people with "more" power around you. Yes, I will teach them how to share those opinions respectfully, ("MOMMY IS A POOPY-PANTS" won't fly), but they have to learn—from me—that their opinion has value and their voice has meaning.

When I remember to do this (which is definitely not always) it looks like this:

My son starts whining about needing to leave the playground, and despite my instinct reaction of, "I said now!" I try:"This seems really important to you. Can you use words to explain to me what you're feeling?"

I have to say, about seven out of 10 times he is actually able to do this. Sometimes I let him "win," and we stay another five minutes, and sometimes he doesn't win, and we still leave. But my hope is that it conveys to them that standing up for themselves is a worthy cause.

5. I will let them choose what they wear

So much easier said than done, especially when it's the sparkly Halloween jack-o-lantern shirt with the rainbow unicorn pants and half of their costume from the first-grade play. In January. On picture day. (This is hyper-specific because this is a real outfit chosen by my daughter.)

But, choose it, she may.

She gets dressed for herself, not for anyone else. If she feels awesome (and is warm enough), great. It's not long before the world will start to tell her how to dress, so she needs that self-assuredness now.

I'm sad to say that while the news of the Ernst & Young story caught my attention, it didn't really surprise me. I am a woman after all, and I understand what it is to live in this society. But that doesn't mean I just accept it; not even close.

I am so appreciative of the women that came forward to report what happened and promise to reaffirm my commitment to ensuring that it stops with us. The next generation's leaders are in our arms right now.

Let's do right by them, and our future.

You might also like:

Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

FEATURED VIDEO

Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


You might also like:

Shop

Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:


Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


Our Partners