Featured Member Allison Prior

Allison Prior is our kind of leader, embodying and inspiring confidence and kindness at every turn. Despite a resume filled with impressive professional accomplishments in the notoriously cut-throat apparel industry, her continued commitment to mentorship and making work work for all women is why we chose her for this month’s featured member.


Tell us your story : Who are you and what do you do?
I am a seasoned sales executive in the apparel industry with proven leadership skills, a strong and trustworthy reputation, and a critical eye for success in an ever-changing retail environment. I am the mom of 2 kids, Jack (3.5) and Molly (15 months). I am a master juggler and I love being busy. In fact, I don’t know how to be bored. My mind is always churning and burning with the next new idea, recipe for dinner, strategy at work, project at home, activity with the kids, party to plan. I have it all but have learned that I want it all on my time and terms.


What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
I could say that my proudest accomplishment has been launching a new label or opening a new account—and, yes, these moments have felt great—but, really, my proudest professional accomplishment has been mentoring other colleagues in making work work for them. Seeing their nodding heads and beaming eyes as I help them build their confidence to prove that they are worthy of getting the job done in ways that suit their life has been the most meaningful. I have worked with some amazing women over the years and I have loved holding their hand as we navigate this transitional time where companies are needing to bend to retain talent.


What is the hardest challenge you’ve faced. work-wise?
Striking the balance between work and home! When I went back to work when my oldest child was 12 weeks old, I felt an immediate uneasiness and, for 3 years, I wavered between being OK and not OK at all with the balance I was striking. During this time, I worked for understanding bosses and also for bosses who did not respect the constant pull I felt. I also felt the pressure of colleagues who didn’t have children, who did not understand the push and tug I was experiencing.


If you could change one thing about how your given field operates, particularly with regards to women, what would it be, and why?
It would be flex hours for all—with the expectation that top notch performance is required! I work in an industry where so much of our success is determined by the hours we clock. But I can drive sales, build relationships, and analyze data from anywhere. Of course, face-to-face interaction is important in any industry, but technology allows us to have that. I wish that the leaders could stop being afraid of the “what ifs.” What if women were really given the tools they need to have it all and succeed at work and at home simultaneously?!
What is the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
If you want your boss’s job, you’re in the right spot. If you are the boss, well then, #goals!


How do you negotiate the balance between life and work when you are the one setting the boundaries?
Lead by example: If you’re balancing life and work and not getting the job done, that is not ok; if you’re “doing it all” then that will rub off on the team.


How do you make work work for you?
I speak my mind and am honest about my needs! I am also a believer in being where I am meant to be. Learning about and joining the Second Shift could not have come at a better time in my life!

Motherhood Misogyny

Once upon a time, back when Gina and I were first hatching the idea for The Second Shift, we spoke to everyone we knew about our idea. One of our early meetings was with a very well-known and successful Public Relations strategist who gave us her time and advice. One thing I remember clearly from the meeting is she told us not to use the word “mom” because the perception of the word undervalues the expertise and professionalism of the women in our member community.


I thought of this today when I read an opinion piece in the NYTimes by Hillary Frank, a journalist and creator of the podcast “The Longest Shortest Time” about all things motherhood. In the op-ed she writes that she hit invisible barriers to success because the topic of the stories she tells revolve around mothers and children—and this is on NPR!!


“ I met rejection after rejection…. One guy put it more bluntly: who wants to listen to this except for moms?”


I have been asked if The Second Shift is a company for Betty Drapers who want to work in between rounds of golf. I have been told by a male investor that he can’t envision who are our members are because he would never hire his wife or her friends. What I have found is the minute you bring motherhood into the story the tone changes and you have to start explaining and qualifying when, the truth is, as Gina eloquently explains, “you are not doing them a favor and hiring our members because they are mothers. The only reason they are available for you to hire is because they are mothers.”


Luckily, in the past few years the public conversation about women and parenthood has dramatically changed for the better: increasingly companies are understanding how and why parents need flexibility in their schedules, and parental leave for both genders is becoming more common. Companies like Twitter have 20-week leave for primary caretakers and work with The Second Shift to fill those leaves because statistics show it can improve employee retention rates by 50%. Progressive companies like JP Morgan, American Express, Microsoft and others are offering external childcare partnerships and benefits like IVF reimbursement and career mentorship. Businesses like Babycenter, Hatch and Care.com are proving that motherhood has become a big business. Where there is money there is power and that will ultimately change the “mom” PR problem forever.