By Cortney Piper, President
It’s Women’s History Month. As the founder of an SBA certified Woman-Owned Small Business, I want to use this time to pause and reflect on my career and approach to running my strategic communications firm.
Times like these put a spotlight on the countless accomplishments of women throughout history and the sacrifices they made to get us to where we are today. We fought for the right to vote, more equality in the workplace and up until the 1970s, even the right to have a credit card in our own name. The more we celebrate the achievements of women and the progress we have made, the easier it will be for future generations.
Like other women in leadership positions, I have faced some degree of adversity. But I have been lucky to have mostly worked for women and been surrounded by strong examples of female leadership. Being in a female-dominated field of public relations, I also have not had to face many of the daily difficulties some women face in more male-dominated industries.
I believe seeing so many women in positions of power has unconsciously shaped the way I view myself and my business. Even more, I think my experience as a young professional woman in the workforce had a major impact on the way I run this company – I learned what I wanted and didn’t want for my business. From the beginning of Piper Communications, I was determined to run this company the way I wanted to be treated – as a professional, woman and mother.
When I was looking for jobs before founding Piper Communications, I grew discouraged that so many employers – even the progressive ones – didn’t seem to trust their employees, as was reflected in their benefits and policies. Little paid time off, hardly any sick leave and rigorous attention schedules seemed to be the norm. You can’t make someone good at their job by enacting strict parameters. If people aren’t passionate about what they do, inflexible rules won’t help them stick around. I didn’t want that for Piper Communications.
At Piper Communications, we offer unlimited paid time off (PTO), paid maternity leave, flexible work-from-home arrangements and other opportunities that reflect the everyday realities of a modern office. I believe these policies make it easier for everyone to work hard and still feel supported in their personal lives.
I experienced this personal-professional struggle firsthand when I was pregnant. Interestingly, during this time, I felt that as a professional woman, I was perceived as both stronger and weaker for being pregnant. Stronger in the sense that I was carrying triplets and worked up until the day I delivered, but weaker due to the prevailing belief that once women have children, they don’t remain in the workforce.
This experience made me realize that we still have a long way to go in terms of normalizing maternity leave. It’s a part of life and something else that needs to be managed in a working environment, just like vacation time, sick leave and schedules. After all, sometimes you just need to roll up your sleeves and work a bit harder to get to where you need to be.
Whether it’s unlimited PTO or maternity leave, ensuring true equity in the workplace begins with empathy, a recognition that we still have a lot to learn and a drive to make the workplace more accessible to all.