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Celebrating International Women’s Day

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I was sitting in my office with the door shut and my speakerphone on, leading a conference call with my colleagues about a very important project.

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That’s when I heard it – the sound of my 8-week old colicky baby screaming in the kitchen.

My mind bounced back and forth like a ping pong ball from my work to my baby. I couldn’t focus on either the call or my child.

I felt panic, guilt, love and embarrassment all at once.

It was my first day as a mom with a corporate job.

Ten years, several jobs and an extra child later, it’s gotten much easier in many ways. My children are in school full-time, and I manage to get most of my work done while they are out of the house. I’m blessed to not have the challenges of commuting and a rigid schedule.

But those same feelings I felt that very first day still bubble to the surface. Whether it’s trying to be there for my kids’ school events, or working on one of their projects at the eleventh hour, or ordering take-out because I just didn’t get around to planning dinner, I still struggle with guilt and finding the right balance. And I know I’m not alone. There are many, many moms — and dads — dealing with the same struggle as they try to share their talents and skills in the workplace while staying true to the commitment of taking care of family.

That’s why International Women’s Day, celebrated today, is so very important. The theme this year is Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum.

While we’re still struggling as a society to figure out these delicate balances of work and family, profits and preschools, we must acknowledge that progress is being made. Every woman who enjoys a fulfilling, lucrative and flexible career paves the way for another mom, dad or family.

There are many examples of companies who are helping moms – and dads! – make it work. Johnson & Johnson is proud to be among them, and honored to have recently been named one ofthe Top 10 Companies for Female Executives by the National Association for Female Executives. This honor is particularly exciting because it recognizes the leadership and career advancement programs that are specifically designed to identify, unlock and maximize the potential of our female employees.

It also underscores how important these statements from Our Credo are:

We must be mindful of ways to help our employees fulfill their family responsibilities…There must be equal opportunity for employment, development and advancement for those qualified.

It’s a terrific honor, and one that has deep roots. From its very beginnings, women have played a crucial role in Johnson & Johnson’s history. You can read about the first seven women who worked here at our Kilmer House blog. From 1886 to today, where now 33% of the company’s top 10% earners are women, there’s a legacy of gender momentum that’s very exciting to watch.

We also invite you to view this short video of Smita Pillai, a mom who works here at Johnson & Johnson. We think you’ll enjoy her perspective on trying to achieve work-life balance.

But we’re not just patting ourselves on the back today – we’re encouraging you to celebrate International Women’s Day, too! There are lots of ways to participate. Our Facebook page has a lovely International Women’s Day graphic for you to share.

Think of a woman who inspires you and share it with them today!

Check out our Twitter trivia series on the role women have played in Johnson & Johnson’s history by following us at @JNJCares.

You can also play Half The Sky Movement: The Game, which allows you to help raise money for four important organizations that support the well-being of women and girls worldwide – simply by playing an interactive game on Facebook. We’re involved as part of our efforts with The Fistula Foundation, and we wrote about this fantastic effort earlier this week.

Check out the United Nations Foundation’s Global Mom Relay. We’ll be talking much more about this in the coming days, but you can get started by visiting the Huffington Post and reading more about this massive moms-pay-it-forward effort.

Celebrating and supporting women is part of our heritage, part of our present, and part of our future. International Women’s Day is a wonderful reason to celebrate and reflect. We hope you’ll join us!

Gigi Ross is a wife mom of two kids (a 10 year-old boy and an 8 year-old girl) living in San Diego, CA. Gigi works as a content and community manager for Johnson & Johnson. A blogger and writer in her spare time, Gigi’s work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Babble, BlogHer and Mamapedia. She keeps her personal blog at KludgyMom.

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