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Posted: May 01, 2013

Work in progress

Women look to strike a balance between C-suite and family

Gigi Sukin

Melinda said self-awareness is another critical contributor to her ability to thrive, recommending fewer “I’m sorrys” from bright, focused, career-oriented women she meets.

While unapologetically finding the balance can be challenging whether assuming part or full-time employment, Ater acknowledged that Mayer, the famous Fortune 500 CEO/mom, highlighted inconsistencies for women who embrace the role as professional and mother, when she decided to prohibit telecommuniting for Yahoo employees.

“The Mayer story perfectly underscores the inconsistencies in work/life options available to women,” says Ater. “She cut what is often considered a lifeline for new mothers, leaving them with fewer options for the balance they so desperately desire. At face value, it might sound self-serving. However, there is another side to the story … not all jobs are ideal for telecommuting and one size simply cannot fit all.”

Likewise, Molly McCoy, founder and CEO of hrQ, a human resources recruiting and consulting service in Denver, says Mayer’s undeniable capability as a business leader indicates she believed the telecommuting ban was the best thing for Yahoo.

However, for hrQ, “I disagree with such a decision,” says McCoy. “I also didn’t inherit a turnaround situation. When you can build a culture of trust and hard work regardless of where your team sits, it’s much easier to hire to that profile.”

In McCoy’s experience, she’s unfamiliar with the shortage of women that Sandberg and others fear.

“When in corporate roles, I had the benefit of working for organizations where there were many women in senior level positions, including CEO, CFO and other C statistics.” She concedes that maybe this was “an exception to the norm,” and is fearful that the painful truth of Sandberg’s manifesto is still mostly true: “Men do still run the world.”

McCoy shared that she’d recently been challenged to identify female CEOs 45 years and younger across the Front Range running businesses north of $8 million in revenue. Admittedly, she failed to produce more than a handful.

Though age was not taken into consideration, the Top 100 Woman-Owned Company list features more than a mere handful; more than 30 companies exceeded $8 million in revenues last year.

Some corporate group photos provide a striking visual, quietly insinuating that women can’t have it all; but perhaps with a collaborative effort there is hope, whether pursuing professional endeavors part or full-time.

“I am a firm believer that if companies accepted, regarded and rewarded more flexible work options, the quality of work would improve exponentially,” said Chief  Sales Officer and co-founder of 10 til 2, Olin. “This goes for men as well as women. The balance is attainable, but employers must start thinking outside the box.”

Especially in Colorado.

According to Ater, a transplant from Northern California, the Centennial State presents the prime location to explore a new paradigm.

“Denver is much more supportive and encouraging to women in business than most parts of the country, even the coasts,” says Ater. “Even though places like D.C. and San Francisco are considered progressive, they are still very much entrenched in the ‘old boys’ network.’ Colorado, on the other hand, has so many opportunities for and acceptance of women in business.”

Klein echoed the positive sentiments toward her home state.

“We’re lucky to live in Colorado,” says Klein. “The leaders of our cities are diversified, which helps us better weather the ups and downs of the economy. Diversification helps us all.”


“Most of my friends are not CEOs. They felt like the sacrifice was not one that they were willing to make. Often, what it comes down to is a confidence in the way you present yourself, not apologizing for your success or who you are. It’s a challenge we all have to keep working on.”

Stephanie Klein

Experience Factor

“Being a woman leader takes some hutzpah; there’s a reason that only 15-16 percent of corporate leaders are female. Women opt out often and don’t advocate for themselves. I try to be a very genuine, transparent leader and talk about my priorities and goals. You have to have set goals, hold yourself accountable and always
keep moving.”

Kathleen Quinn Votaw


“We need more women in high level positions.
I wonder if we will get to a point in society where there is a way to have the career and figure out the family balance. During the bad economy, I saw a lot of women create their own businesses, stepping outside of the box and getting creative. Maybe that’s it.”

Melinda Delmonico

Gibson Arnold & Associates

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Gigi Sukin is an Associate Editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at

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