As part of our ongoing commitment to telling the stories of industry mothers, we spoke with Gina Garrubbo, single mother and CEO of National Public Media. Gina has worked managing sales teams for myriad brands including Discovery Channel, Women.com, BlockHer, and Oxygen Media.
Q: 3 in 5 professional women returning to the workforce are likely to move into lower-skilled or lower-paid roles, experiencing an immediate earnings reduction of up to a third. How does seeing that figure make you feel?
It really saddens me. Women have to pay a price to stay home and raise children which is a very valuable gift for families, society, and our economy. I do think progress has been made, I see more men taking on this role, but I do think that it falls on women and I think it’s a real shame.
Q: Can you articulate your own experiences in navigating the parental-bias minefield?
Yes. I was really blessed with an incredible support from the companies I worked for and coworkers because I’m a single mom and decided when my daughter was born, that I would take her on every business trip until she was 3 and ½ and I travelled a lot. She wouldn’t come into the office, but she was close by and I never left her, and I realize that I was very fortunate to have the money to do this. Not every woman could afford it, not every woman needs to do it, but I think you have to make your own situation and I never asked for permission. I just said to everybody, we’re having a baby and you’re going to support me, and they did, and I consider myself very lucky.
Q: Providing a route back to business for talented individuals who have strong experience and are looking to return from a career break of 2-10 years is critical. What suggestions do you have for people struggling through this situation?
I say to many women I know who left, keep your hand in it. Even if you go to lunch with former coworkers on a regular basis, even if you have to go out of pocket to attend certain conferences, it’s difficult but you have to at least stay in touch, stay up to date, and stay in mind. That makes it so much harder (to get back into it). I know very early on at the Discovery Channel and We and Lifetime Television did job sharing for women, that was amazing. I actually don’t see a lot of that, and I think that worked for everybody. Women would work 2 and a half days in the office, but they were working the equivalent of 3 and a half days. They were graceful to have kept the money coming in and kept their status. I think it’s a horrible thing that women have to go through on this, but the realities of the workforce, especially as younger people are coming is companies can get younger and less expensive talent who are very up to date on everything.
Q: Anything else to add?
I would very much like to see an evolution in industries making opportunities to maybe keep up with business changes and with things remotely so they’re just not so far away from the action which is why they have trouble coming back in my opinion.
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