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Baby Steps

How Axon Supports Working Parents

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Our Inside Axon blog series is updated every Wednesday and features letters from executives within Axon. This week's post was written by Marin Lersch, Axon's Director of Creative Content. Check back next week for more experiences and insight from Axon leaders.

The weekend after my biggest project to date at Axon wrapped, my daughter started walking. Not “hold my hand and you do all the work” walking, but “I'm an independent woman, watch me grab that heavy book off the second shelf” walking. That these two milestones happened so close together is a pretty apt reflection of the work-life yin-yang that every career mom finds herself in. And it's a balance that I'm grateful has been made easier by the company I'm a part of.

Without getting into overall US family leave policy, let's at least state the obvious that returning to work after having a baby is HARD, no matter how much time you spent at home or what kind of job you're going back to. I am incredibly fortunate on both of those fronts. Axon's leave policy allowed me to spend a full paid 20 weeks getting to know the little person who changed my life, which is well beyond what most companies offer. And when I returned, it was to a job where I feel intellectually stimulated and supported, and like I'm part of something big and impactful.

Since my first interview with then-CMO, now-President Luke Larson, I have felt this duality of respecting the preciousness of family time and also being so committed to the mission that you will work uncompromisingly hard for it. He told me about his two daughters, and how he is raising them to believe that the sky's the limit for what they can achieve. And he told me that Axon (then TASER International) was a place that would make it possible for women and moms to “lean in” (Sheryl Sandberg's book had come out not long before this, and the whole company had just finished reading it for a book club).

I can't speak for every mom at Axon, but for me, the company and our leadership have delivered on that. The generous leave policy was introduced a couple of years ago, and it's rounded out with top-down direction that no matter how busy we are at work, family comes first. And in terms of career growth, my first project upon my return to work was leading the effort around changing the name of the company from TASER International to Axon, a months-long, multi-faceted undertaking that pushed me. The opportunities to challenge yourself are abundant at Axon, regardless of your parental status (or any other status for that matter).

It'd be disingenuous for me to make it sound easy to balance everything all the time. It's not. And Axon is not a clock-in, clock-out kind of place. It has a way of working its way into your heart because it's meaningful and important stuff that we're doing, which means that it's a living, breathing, always-on, always-caring kind of place. That's also what makes it great if you want to have cool stories to share with your family at the end of the day, and to show your kids that working hard and doing what you love don't have to be mutually exclusive. And, thanks to progressive companies like Axon, neither does being present for your child and being present at work.

I wish more companies would follow suit. But, baby steps.