Achieving a work-life balance is a struggle for many professionals. For women, this often means juggling the responsibilities of a mother, a wife, a friend, a colleague and a professional—and setting aside “me” time often becomes a thing of the past.
The Madison Women’s Balance Council was created to provide female professionals with a networking group that fosters a healthy balance between professional development and personal growth. Co-founders Tara Swalve, account executive, Kforce and Lisa Bacus, executive vice president, American Family Insurance share with us the challenges that women face in achieving balance between home-life and work-lifeand how the Council helps overcome them.
1. What are the goals of the Madison Women's Balance Council?
Swalve: The mission of the council is to create a local network of women that will foster and support the balance of life and personal growth of the members. We vow to provide networking, resources and mentoring. This will be a council of spirited and well-rounded women.
As I was talking with clients, I found that women are always looking for good ideas from each other, whether it is sharing a good recipe or talking about the struggles of getting their kids places on time. In creating the Women’s Balance Council, we wanted to give them a place where they come together and discuss the challenges they are faced with on a daily basis. With every meeting we strive to share information with women that will be useful in their everyday life.
The environment is also an important aspect of the Council. It is also our goal to produce an environment that is stress-free and provides a break from the outside world.
2. What have participants identified as their greatest challenge in achieving work-life balance and how does the Women’s Balance Council help them to overcome this challenge?
Swalve: I think the biggest challenge that women in the group have expressed is time management and making sure to schedule time for themselves. We have members from across the board—there are a few moms that don’t work outside the home, some moms who do work, and also those women who work and do not have children—and this response seems to be consistent from all of them.
In attending the Women’s Balance Council, these women are really looking for information on how to make their lives easier—the day to day stuff that you experience as a woman. We put them in front of a group that they can connect with on topics ranging from college funds to cupcakes. In essence, we give them insight into things they would have to dig out themselves, in turn giving them more time to take care of themselves.
Bacus: These are hardworking women who want to give everything more than 100%. Here, they are learning about tools that help them save time, which they can reinvest in other areas of their lives that need it more. Many comments from our members focus on how helpful the meeting content is, and how learning about new tools and resources has helped them to achieve their personal and professional goals. These are things that help all aspects of our lives.
For example, learning about online privacy protection with social media is critical for business people, but also helps us have more fruitful conversations at home with children and other loved ones. Also, learning about healthier eating habits and exercises that can be done while at work, helps us be more productive, and gives us more energy to dedicate to all areas of our lives.
Swalve: Every session has a gem that women can take away with them. We really strive to make every meeting important so women take home the information they need to create balance in their lives and implement the change they need to achieve that.
3. How important is it for professional women to have access to something like the Women's Balance Council and why?
Bacus: More important than I imagined at the outset. On an emotional level, it reinforces that you are not alone, that other successful individuals have the same challenges, and there is a group of people that want to help each other out and share ideas and best practices for having a more balanced life.
Swalve: I think the fact that the Council is embraced and welcomed, and people want to know about it shows that the group really meets a need for women. It’s something women need, but more so something they want.
To print a PDF, click here.