Shortly after returning from maternity leave to her job at the firm, Jeanette Schneider, author, speaker, financial client advisor and blogger, was attempting to bridge the gap between work and caring for her newborn child when she experienced gender-based discrimination at the hands of a colleague.
“One of the first things our sales executive asked when I returned was my plan to make up all the revenue they lost while I was home with my daughter,” Schneider told the Alturas Institute in an interview this month. “I was tired of wearing the power suits and I wanted to be myself, not the version expected of me.”
It was a defining moment for Schneider; one that uncovered both an anger and sense of advocacy within her. When Schneider was later asked to be a go-to advisor to other women in the office who became pregnant, she was hesitant to do so, made reluctant by the lack of positive, real world advice she had to give.
“I remember telling one (advisor), ‘So basically, when you come back to the office, forget your baby,’” Schneider said. “‘You are not a mother when you are in the office. You have to trust your caregivers and just get your head right immediately.’ They were very sad conversations.”
A proud mother of one, Schneider said she sometimes grieves for the discrimination her own daughter might face in the future. Going through the motions yourself is one thing, Schneider said. Imagining your own child going through the same experiences, “You become a mama lion. You want to make it better.”
Though she did not know it at the time, Schneider’s negative experience returning from maternity leave would later become a catalyst for her founding of LORE Advocacy, an organization of women “who aspire to change the world through a gender lens.”
Founded on Valentine’s Day of 2015, LORE was a love letter to women, Schneider said. Her accompanying blog, LORE and Little Things, is a culmination of writings, advice and media geared toward women empowerment and advancement. Her new book, “LORE: Harnessing Your Past to Create Your Future,” comes out Sept. 15 and aims to help women transcend their self-imposed limitations.
“I had an idea and wanted to help women and girls,” Schneider said. “I simply continued to pull at the string and it always took me back to that experience (returning from maternity leave.) It was a big moment when I TRULY realized I wasn’t like the men at the table. I was a mom now. I was “other,” and it felt terrible.”
For Schneider, sheer data has been a mighty tool in her personal fight for women’s rights and equality. After facing gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, and upon her firm’s investment in the gender lens movement, Schneider said she began discovering data, actual numbers, that both confirmed the wrongness of discrimination and harassment in the workplace and proved what she had known about women all along - that their presence in a company helps it perform better than a workplace that is not so diversified, a fact that has continued to be of interest to investors.
“I needed the data to back the feeling that the way things were going was wrong,” Schneider said. “Once I had numbers at hand and a little girl looking up at me asking me to make the world a better place for her - I had no choice.”
As women continue to find their voices and advance in the workplace, the movement will mean everything, not just for the daughters of the world, Schneider said, but for the global economy and social structures. Meanwhile, Schneider will continue working toward her goals of creating better messaging for women around the world and helping them to reclaim their voices.
"I am now surrounded by other strong women," Schneider said. "We seem to find one another. Finding my voice has given me permission to create a platform for other women to show up as their whole selves as well. It has truly right-sized my life and I live far more authentically and can go home each night knowing that this is the woman I want my daughter to see. This one. Not the one before her."
Schneider is a Senior Vice President and Institutional Client Advisor in the financial services industry. She is on the board for Spread the Word Nevada and the President’s Advisory Council for the Smith Center for the Performing Arts. She is a member of the Hall of Fame of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Nevada and a 2016 Vegas, Inc. Woman to Watch.
For more information on Jeanette Schneider or LORE, visit https://loreandlittlethings.com/.