If anyone wants to question whether Michelle Obama knows about the struggles working mothers face, just ask the first lady about the time she went to a job interview with her newborn baby in tow.
Her younger daughter, Sasha, was only four months old at the time, and Obama had just lost her babysitter, contributing to “probably the worst time of my motherhood."
Then the University of Chicago Medical Center called, asking her to come in for an interview.
“Who I was at the time was a breastfeeding mother of a four-month-old and I didn’t have a babysitter, so I promptly took Sasha to the interview with me,” she said Monday at the White House Working Families Summit.
“I thought, look, this is who I am. I've got a husband who’s away. I've got two little babies. They are my priority. If you want me to do the job, you’ve got to pay me to do the job and you’ve got to give me flexibility.”
Obama’s honesty paid off: She became one of the hospital’s vice presidents.
“It was one of the best experiences that I had because (my employer) put my family first and I felt like I owed that hospital because they were supporting me,” she said.
But the first lady said she knows other employers are not as understanding, or even realize how critical family-work life balance can be to their bottom line.
President Obama also brought up the example of how his wife brought Sasha “in her car seat into the interview” to stress the need for employers to offer a flexible work environment.
“That flexibility made all the difference to our families. But a lot of working moms and dads can’t do that,” the president said at the same summit. “They don’t have the leverage. They’re not being recruited necessarily where they can dictate terms of employment. And as a consequence, if they need to bring their mom to the doctor or take an afternoon off to see their kid’s school play, it would mean them losing income that they can’t afford to lose.”