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Ursula Burns talks at a conference.

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Working mothers in today’s world have a tremendous amount of challenges on their plate, from the global COVID-19 pandemic to the soaring costs of child care and education. It’s a lot to juggle and some moms don’t have extra support from family or a partner to help balance all of the ups and downs of raising children.

However, this week, Ursula Burns, the first Black CEO of XEROX, argued a different stance. The 63-year-old businesswoman said during an interview with CNBC Make It, that moms shouldn’t be expected to do it all in today’s society.

“I would not be able to be CEO of the company unless I outsourced the caring for my kids,” Burns, who became the first Black CEO of the Fortune 500 company back in 2009, explained. “I was not a believer that you had to go to all your kids’ games. I just don’t understand what that’s all about.”

Even when she did make time to attend her children’s games, the busy CEO admitted that she didn’t watch “every second” of it. Burns said she would use some of the free time to do a crossword puzzle instead, according to CNBC.

The history-making businesswoman thanked her late husband Lloyd Bean, who was a research scientist at XEROX. Bean retired early to become a stay-at-home dad and played a huge part in helping to raise their two children. The extra help allowed her more time to climb the corporate ladder, ultimately leading to her success. Burns’ sister would also help to take care of the kids too as she lived close to their family home.

“I [wasn’t] a helicopter mom,” Burns added. “We did what we had to do.”

While Burns’ success story is certainly inspiring, the reality of motherhood in America doesn’t quite reflect her life, and for Black mothers especially.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented Black moms with several unprecedented challenges. Many working mothers were on the frontlines of the pandemic, working around the clock as nurses, personal care aides, and in retail, struggling to provide for their children as the virus caused economic chaos around the U.S. A report published by the National Women’s Law Center in January noted that 1 in 3 Black women were essential workers during the height of the pandemic, and unfortunately when jobs were forced to lay off workers during the chaotic period, Black women were hit the hardest. 

A study conducted by Lean In found that 47 percent of Black women went to work during the trying period, citing lack of childcare, support, and finances as the cause. Additionally, 51 percent of Black women said that they had trouble paying for food and housing on top of taking care of their families in 2021.


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