By Emily Kendall, Director, Marketing & Communications
Our chief marketing officer, Cherilyn Megill, recently shared a story recalling her nervousness about telling her then boss she was pregnant. While they enjoyed a great working relationship, she still worried about how it would impact her career, as she had recently taken on a promotion, and the perception she might not be up to the job as a new mom. She told our group of associates that never wants anyone at Phillips Edison to feel the way she did.
I am extremely fortunate that she is my boss. I was excited to tell her I was pregnant, and she was actually one of the first people I told, because I knew I would get the support I needed as a mom and as a professional.
In honor of Women’s History Month, it’s important to acknowledge the many strides made towards supporting and advancing working women. We’ve seen the benefits financially and operationally resulting from more women in leadership roles. We still have work to do and that is definitely evident in the commercial real estate industry. According to a recent study from the Urban Land Institute Women’s Leadership Initiative, only 5.8 percent of women hold C-level positions at property owner/management firms and 2.4 percent hold C-level positions at REITs. However, at professional services firms like Deloitte and KPMG, women in C-level roles account for 19.2 percent. The study cites the significant resources invested in advancing and retaining women at these types of firms.
Phillips Edison is investing significant resources for advancing and retaining women with benefits such as flexible scheduling, paid maternity and paternity leave, paid leave for adoptive parents and formal training through our PECO University program. Three years ago, we also launched our PECO NOW (Networking Opportunity for Women) program, an associate-led initiative designed to recruit, retain and develop women in leadership positions. The establishment of PECO NOW was driven by our CEO, Jeff Edison, who continues to be its biggest champion.
This year, one of our main areas of focus is setting up better support systems for working mothers at Phillips Edison. We are putting together a maternity leave transition program to help moms (and dads) make the transition out of and back to work easier. We are also developing a working moms support group to share best practices and solutions for mom-life and work-life—because the internet can be a scary place during that 3 a.m. feeding—and we know having these networks in place contributes to success. We’ve made upgrades to our nursing mothers’ room, and for the first time this year, we offered the Milkstork delivery service for nursing moms so they could safely pack and ship milk home while they were away at our company annual meeting in Nashville.
I didn’t understand the challenges of being a new mom until going through it myself, and I want to make sure that those who come after me can take advantage of additional support and resources—a way to pay it forward. So I’ve joined Cherilyn to make this part of my mission too, and I am very grateful Phillips Edison supports us in this quest.