Can CEO Moms Have It All?

Women in executive level positions make managing a company and household a possibility

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Janice Bryant Howroyd, chief executive officer of Act 1 Group, always knew she wanted to start a family, but her plan to advance in her career was also at the top of her list. After several years of caring for her now over 30-year-old business and achieving financial stability, the founder of America’s largest black female-owned company and her husband, Bernard Howroyd, began their family of four.

The common perception that women in positions of power have to choose between their career and the joys of motherhood is history. “We’re moving past the idea that the woman’s place is in the home,” says organizational psychologist Dr. Debra A. Major. “Women don’t have to make an either/or choice. You can be both [a mother and executive].”

Currently, there are 12 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, 11 of which are mothers, according to a recent article published last month. Xerox Corp. CEO and mother of two, Ursula M. Burns, is the only black woman on the list. BE women of power such as Rosalind G. Brewer, Sheila C. Johnson and Debra Lee are all mothers. So, how do these exec moms do it?

“I don’t recall a day of my career when I felt that the balance was 50-50 in relationship to being a mother versus businessperson,” says Bryant Howroyd, who attributes motherhood with sharpening her business perspective and temperament. “What I have done is made sure that the sum is right, and forgive myself when I don’t get it exactly as I would want it.”

Her children, Katharyn and Brett, who are in their mid-twenties, attribute their mother’s style of parenthood–the business trips, nighttime prayers via phone and all–with their independence and value of homecoming.

The CEO mom turned author (of The Art of Work:How To Make Work, Work For You!) offers three tips to managing exec life and motherhood:

  • Me, myself and I time is essential.“Whether we’re talking about faith, work or personal relationships, taking care of yourself is so important,” says the devout family woman.
  • It takes a village to raise a child. She credits her close-knit family with providing mental, physical and spiritual support.
  • Always be yourself. “Never compromise who you are personally to become who you wish to be professionally,” adds the business and community leader.

Bonus: Face it, you’re not superwoman.“A lot of women get stressed out wanting to do everything in all their roles perfectly,” says Old Dominion University professor, Dr. Major.  Now, we all know that is impossible.

Read more: 9 Need-to-Know tips from CEOs to new entrepreneurs.

Janel Martinez is an interactive media producer for

  • Andre

    In life we are only capable of so much. The fact that a man would even put the two roles on the same level Fatherhood- career is ridiculous and the same for women. A woman who can’t give up career goals for family and children isn’t right. Our first goal should be our families, careers mean nothing, they die when we die, but our families and the legacy we leave will live on.

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  • Sharon

    I am a single mom and a senior manager at the world’s busiest airport. My child will turn 1 on November 22, 2010. I just celebrated my 40th on November 7. I take tip #3 in the article to heart. I do not compromise myself (or my family) for my profession. Thus parenting and working has been easy for me. I do it through the help of almighty God. I have one of the happiest babies in the world. Strangers and friends tell me that all the time, they see it in my child. Parenting does not depend on whether the mom works or does not work, it depends on the person’s morals.