In December 2016, our corporate partner Exelon committed to helping close the gender pay gap by signing the Equal Pay Pledge, a partnership with the White House under the Obama administration. Each year, the company will conduct a gender pay analysis across all occupations and “review hiring and promotion processes to neutralize unconscious bias and embed equal pay efforts into broader enterprise-wide equity initiatives.” To that, we say, bravo! They also provide 16 weeks paid maternity leave, 8 weeks paternity leave, and other caregiving benefits.
In getting to know the company, we met one employee, Courtney Erickson, who impressed us with her flexible thinking in navigating her career journey, to include creating a job share. We’re thrilled to share her story here!
WHO SHE IS
Courtney S. Erickson
WHAT SHE DOES
Principal Regulatory Specialist @ ComEd Regulatory Compliance (ComEd is a subsidiary of Exelon)
HOW SHE GOT HERE
Aprés: You’ve spent the bulk of your career at Exelon, navigating roles and opportunities in ways that allowed you to have the career and life you wanted. Tell us a little bit about this journey.
Courtney: It’s true. I’ve been at Exelon for over 14 years — it was the second job I ever had. When I started as a senior accountant, I had one baby and worked very hard, growing my responsibilities and eventually becoming a supervisor.
Two years into my role as a supervisor in revenue accounting, where I managed four accountants, the demands of raising three young children (Taylor was five years old, Mitchell two years old and Kaitlin six months) were beginning to clash with expectations at work.
I knew I did not want to leave the workforce, but I also knew that I could not keep doing what I was doing. So, I approached my manager to discuss options I may have at the company, and a discussion began about a job share. We learned of a job share in the finance department downtown, and it seemed to be working well.
It took about one year to find the right partner, but I was able to transition to working three days a week, and did this for two years. It was immensely helpful to my family and it allowed me to continue contributing at Exelon. This was the first step of my “non-linear” career path.
Aprés: How did the job share go? What did you propose to your managers that you think made it attractive to them, perhaps so others interested in job shares can learn from your approach?
Courtney: The job share went extremely well! I ended up partnering up with a male coworker who was in a similar situation and looking for balance to help manage his growing family.
Here’s how our job share worked: We were two individuals managing one job. Each of us worked three days a week and crossed over on Wednesday to transition work and have team meetings.
Communication and compromise were key to making the partnership effective, as well as for setting the right tone for the team we were managing, our manager, and our vice president.
Although we both knew this was a great opportunity, it came with great responsibility. Both of us wanted the job share to be successful, not only for ourselves but for others who may want to be considered for a job share or other flexible arrangements at Exelon. We wanted to show that a successful job share could benefit the employees participating as well as the company.
When I first pitched the job share, my manager and VP were attracted to the idea of keeping two highly respected employees in the company and also being one of the first teams to support a job-share in finance. But I also spent a good deal of time thinking through logistics and responsibilities to structure a setup for success.
Aprés: After job sharing for two years you felt it was time to return to working full time and made a strategic decision to level down in an effort to preserve your work-life balance. Looking back, was that a difficult decision to “level down” and how do you look at that decision now?
Courtney: When I first contemplated the move from part time to full time, but at a lower level, I received various feedback from coworkers and friends on what that meant for my career, long term. Some of the feedback was negative.
A few people were concerned that I would not be promoted back to a Level 04 (principal) position, what it would do to future promotions, and that many leaders in the company would question why I took the step down.
I won’t lie — the feedback gave me pause. But I knew it was the right decision for me. I felt confident that when I was ready, I would be able to get back to a principal / supervisor role and that opportunity would follow.
When I look back at that decision today, it was the right decision. I have no regrets, and I am now a principal in my current department. I am looking to manage people again and continue to expand my job skills in order to move to more challenging roles.
Aprés: I think you have a lot to say about non-linear career paths and their potential…
Courtney: I’ve had many working moms ask me for my advice on work life balance and career choices. The best advice I can give to anyone is do what is best for you and your family.
My path does not look like everyone else’s, and it hasn’t been a straight line up. But I’m still learning, still growing, still developing and have so much to contribute to my roles and to this company.
For me, this is success — I have stayed in the workforce but also have been a strong presence at home and with my family. Having a non-linear career path allowed me to be very present at my children’s school by participating in parent association and I have spent many years coaching my children in various sports.
That is what others need to focus on — focus on what is success to you and don’t focus on what others believe is success or titles in an organization. I am perfectly comfortable not being a Key Manager yet — I know I will be when the time is right. I have high aspirations for myself, but it has to be the right time and the right position.
There is no perfect path for anyone. You make the path that makes you and your family happy. We all have different goals and priorities that drive us. My advice is to focus on that and nothing else.
That will lead you to your path.