Porter Novelli

The last three months have seen Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s profile soar with the publication of her book, “Lean In,” on the role of women and mothers in the workplace. At Porter Novelli’s Washington, D.C. office, Sandberg’s approach quickly became a hot topic around water coolers and on social media.

What emerged was that on the one hand, women at PN have spent more than a decade figuring out how to lean in while raising children and being present in the home. On the other, younger women who are yet to start a family, or are in the early stages of doing so, are eager for advice on how to achieve work-home balance.

To help women – and men – exchange ideas, we staged an office-wide debate in D.C., where around 20 people from the senior leadership team through to assistant account executives discussed the topic for over an hour.

One mom said she had learned from GE boss Jack Welch to be an effective time manager so that she could complete all her tasks to get home for a family supper. Another talked about how she balanced having a baby with getting started in the career that had been her promise to herself while at college. There was a discussion around whether it is possible to ‘have it all,’ or whether today women find it more manageable to ‘have it all, just not all at the same time.’

Encouragingly for Porter Novelli, people did feel that our firm supports their professional aspirations while allowing them to honor their responsibilities outside of work.

It was inspiring to be part of a discussion about topics that will continue to echo across the generations. And to see how colleagues at Porter Novelli are backing each other in the life choices they make.