How the ‘Poster Child for Women CIOs’ Achieves Work-Life Balance

Charlene Oldham Foresight Leave a Comment

Carter’s CIO Janet Sherlock discusses career, family and the partner who makes it possible to have both.

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Janet’s feature article scheduled to appear in the May/June 2014 issue of Forefront.

As the CIO of Carter’s Inc., a wife and the mother of 10-year-old twin daughters, Janet Sherlock is a woman who has it all. She wants to extend that same opportunity to her twins, and any other young person who may want to become an executive. In fact, she’d like her story to become the rule rather than the exception – or for those who come after her to be able to write their own rules, choosing the lifestyle and career that fits them best.

One of a relatively small handful of women in her role, she can sometimes seem like “the poster child for women CIOs.” But she would much rather share the spotlight with other women who too often get discouraged by difficulty in managing a work-life balance due to the working conditions associated with IT.

“IT is very 24/7, and it’s very high expectation and high stress. They’ll look at that and say, ‘I don’t know if it’s worth it,’” she said of women who might aspire to join the executive ranks.

Sherlock says she wants to look back when she is 70 or 80 and feel as though she has had a fulfilling career and used her intellectual capital to the best of her ability, so it has been worth it for her. But, as a working mother, Sherlock also identified with Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In.” While becoming an executive is not for everyone, she explained it would be easier for more working women to lean in to leadership if they were not also expected to fulfill all their traditional roles at home.

“That’s where the equation falls off for women in the executive ranks,” she said, “and that’s the part that needs to be addressed.”

Sherlock said she is fortunate to have a husband who works and also acts as an equal partner in every aspect of their home lives.

“I literally am a woman who has it all. I’ve got the husband and the children, the very gratifying career. But that phrase, having it all, very rarely is applied to a man.”

So, while she does not relish being a poster child, it is a role she’s taken on for her twins’ sake.

“I’d like to see a day before my 10-year-old twin daughters become adults when it’s not considered a privilege for women to have it all,” she said. “It’s a privilege for any person to make the choices they want. That’s what should be considered a privilege.”

And it’s a privilege that should be extended to every kid in a Carter’s onsie today, no matter what their gender. ♦


Janet Sherlock is SVP & CIO of Carters in Atlanta, GA and Vice Chair of NRF’s CIO Council. Carter’s is the market leader of baby and children’s apparel under the Carter’s and OshKosh B’Gosh brand names. Prior to joining Carter’s, Janet was a Research Director for AMR Research, now a division of Gartner Research. Janet held CIO roles and senior leadership positions in various companies including: Calico Corners, Guess?, Inc., ARCO am/pm© stores, and Mobil Oil and holds a B.S. in Business Logistics from the Pennsylvania State University and an MBA from Marymount University. She will be featured in issue 11 of Forefront Magazine.

Charlene Oldham

Contributing Writer at Forefront Magazine
Charlene Oldham is a St. Louis-based teacher and freelancer.

Comments, thoughts, feedback?