Why Editors Should Hire Moms

By Jack Limpert

McKinsey & Co., one of the world’s smartest management consulting firms, lost a lot of talented woman employees over the  years after the women had children and no longer wanted the hours and stress of a high-pressure job. Now the Wall Street Journal reports that McKinsey is reaching out to some of these talented women to see if they want to return to work.

In my years at The Washingtonian, two of our very best writers, Diane Granat and Laura Elliott, were moms who wanted to write but who didn’t want full-time jobs or a fixed schedule.

Two lessons for editors:

One of my goals at the magazine was to get budget freedom so that I didn’t have anyone telling me who I could hire or how much I could pay them or how often they’d be in the office. How does an editor get that kind of budget freedom? At The Washingtonian by spending sensibly and never surprising the publisher by going over budget. Once the publisher trusts you and gives you budget freedom, it allows you to make all kinds of deals with all kinds of writers, deals that are in the best interest of both the writer and editor.

My only interest was in getting good stories, and Diane and Laura knew their arrangement with the magazine could easily be adjusted depending on what was happening in their lives. I always thought they gave extra effort because they appreciated that flexibility.

Budget freedom is a wonderful thing for an editor—if done right, it can produce great journalism without busting the budget.

The second lesson: Judging journalism award competitions is a good way to find talent. I first saw Diane’s writing when judging the Dirksen Awards for coverage of Congress. Diane didn’t win that year, but she had done very good stories and I called to tell her so. She said that she’d had a baby and wasn’t sure she wanted to return to work at Congressional Quarterly. Within a month we had worked out a deal that allowed her to continue writing but on a schedule that allowed her to be both a great mother and a writer. A win for both her and the magazine.

 A note: As you will see from their links, Laura has gone on to be a successful novelist. Sadly, Diane, a very good reporter and writer who was passionately interested in doing stories that improved the lives of children and families, died in 2004 at the age of 49.

Comments

  1. This is a wonderful post with great points on how everyone can make sure that real talented isn’t wasted. I hope more people take your cue on this!

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