THE BLOG

Dave Goldberg: A Powerful Champion for Women, Careers and Co-parenting

07/05/2015 17:25 BST | Updated 06/05/2016 10:59 BST

Behind every man is a great woman, but behind every great women is a stay-at-home dad.

If you cast an eye across many of the role models held up as successful women today, you might be forgiven for thinking this was the only way to be female and forge a successful career.

Of course, this isn't the case. For many women who are interested in following their careers after having a child this option may not be either realistic or desirable.

In fact, the more common aspiration today among the women I meet and coach is to be part of a modern partnership where both mother and father take joint responsibility for parenting.

We are, however, very short on role models who fit this way of doing things and, after the untimely death of Dave Goldberg, husband of Sheryl Sandberg, we have lost a powerful example of a couple who showed us that in a quest to do well in the areas of parenting and careers, both partners could thrive.

Much of what I found most powerful about Sandberg's 2013 book Lean In was the importance of conscious co-parenting.

She consistently promoted her husband as her number one supporter and apparently it was him that pushed her to negotiate with Mark Zuckerberg when joining Facebook.

And while Sheryl Sandberg forged her own successful career, Dave Sandberg was doing the same thing, growing Survey Money from start-up to a two billion dollar business.

The message is that it is very hard to lean in if your partner isn't also leaning out of his career to co-parent.

This is something of acute importance to young women today and, given the critical impact that parenting has on a woman's career trajectory, co-parenting is something we focus on with mothers-to-be in their first coaching session before they go off to have their baby.

This is because the majority of women still go into motherhood blinkered, believing that their career is all there for the taking, only to find themselves taken down the path of lead carer for their children.

Typically, the issue of co-parenting will never come up for discussion. So, when women become mothers for the first time, they unwittingly set the pattern for the future because the mould is already set and husbands are less likely to step up and co-parent.

We desperately need more men and women to realise the critical importance of this issue.

Dave Sandberg in his equal partnership with Sheryl did a huge amount to bring this it to the fore.

His death is tragic not just because Sheryl has lost her husband and her kids have lost their dad but because everyone has lost a male champion for leaning in.