Anna Lahey: Fostering inclusivity and empowering women in the workforce

Anna Lahey: Fostering inclusivity and empowering women in the workforce

Anna Lahey, a successful entrepreneur and a dedicated mother of four, wears multiple hats. As the dynamic founder of the global beauty brand Vida Glow, Anna's journey from the company's inception in 2014 to its current success is a testament to her innovative leadership. Yet, it's her personal journey as a mother that inspires many, filled with deep love, daunting challenges, and a candid approach to navigating the balance of work and family life.

We are grateful to be able to share Anna's unique journey and her insights on the juggle of motherhood, work, and breastfeeding with our community. Anna and Vida Glow's innovative policies and commitment to providing a breastfeeding-friendly workplace set a gold standard for supporting working mothers - one that workplaces worldwide would do well to emulate.

Anna’s journey

Anna believes that each journey of motherhood is unique to each child, each person and each experience. After her fourth child, Anna faced her most challenging postpartum and breastfeeding journey yet. But through this tumultuous time, Anna learnt a valuable lesson about the need for surrender and continuous learning, even in the face of unexpected difficulties.

"I'm always learning, and despite how organised and structured you like to be, there's a huge amount of surrendering that needs to be done," Anna says.

Balance, as many of us strive for, isn't always achievable. Anna learnt this through her own experiences, revealing that at times, all the balls of motherhood and career may end up on the floor. But it's okay. Acceptance, perspective, and a strong support system have been key to managing her demanding lifestyle.

"My husband is very hands-on, I have my mum nearby and I have a nanny. I’m incredibly grateful – I couldn’t do what I do without the village around me," Anna shared.

When asked about her experience returning to work and maintaining breastfeeding, Anna shares her challenges with recurring mastitis and hyperlactation. Despite numerous remedies and therapies, she had to make the difficult decision to wean her son earlier than expected. Breastfeeding is a relationship between you and your baby and in this case the relationship was not working.  Anna says “recurring mastitis has been one of the most traumatic experiences and I am grieving that my breastfeeding journey has ended before I was ready.”

However, prior to this, Anna said that thanks to the support and flexibility of her work environment, she was able to work during her postpartum period. “I needed to be in the office at 11 weeks for an important face to face meeting and I brough Albert with me, and fed comfortably around my team. I also worked a week in London and he was either with me, or I pumped and left him sleeping in the hotel room with our nanny or my husband.”

Sadly, not all women find such support when they return to work after maternity leave. According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, 49% of mothers experienced discrimination in the workplace during pregnancy, parental leave, or on return to work. This discrimination can often negatively impact breastfeeding choices and duration.

Returning to work after maternity leave

As a business owner, Anna believes supporting women returning to work is crucial for fostering inclusivity. Vida Glow are committed to helping employees integrate their work demands with their personal life, providing a fulfilling and rewarding career.

"At Vida Glow we provide a flexible and supportive approach with regular and open communication," says Anna. "Returning to work after parental leave is a unique and personal experience for each individual. It’s essential to recognise that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this transition because everyone’s circumstances, needs, and feelings may vary significantly. What works today may not work tomorrow or next week. So, we encourage managers to keep talking with their team members and ask them what support they need."

Vida Glow's policies reflect this commitment to employee support. They offer flexible return-to-work options, a phased return to work if required, the option to extend parental leave if needed, breastfeeding facilities in the office, and an Employee Assistance Program, amongst other benefits. Vida Glow is not just a company that sells beauty products, but a company that lives its values and is dedicated to making a real difference.

Anna's journey reveals an inspiring story of resilience and determination. Her leadership at Vida Glow is a testament to the empowerment of women and parents in the workforce.

From mama to mama

Anna’s advice for all new mums out there "Take one day at a time." It is simple yet powerful, a reflection of Anna’s wisdom and compassion.

"Everyday you’re trying your best. And your best is different on different days. Just take it one day at a time.”

Anna’s experience and approach remind us here at Lactamo of the importance of providing innovative solutions that meet the unique and diverse needs of breastfeeding mothers. Through empowerment, support, and flexibility, we can all make a positive difference for working parents everywhere.

In the spirit of Anna Lahey and Vida Glow, let's all take it one day at a time, always striving to do our best and make our workplaces more inclusive, supportive, and understanding.

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