30 January 2023 |

Does your workplace support working moms?

By Hebba Youssef

I’ll let you in on a very personal secret of mine: I’m afraid of someday becoming a mom. 

Not only does the responsibility of caring for a human scare me but I also worry about my career. 

Am I alone in that worry? I don’t think so.

The stats around working moms and their career growth, pay equity and access to opportunities is staggering: 

  • Mothers are two thirds less likely to be promoted after children
  • Mothers are 40% more likely than fathers to report childcare issues harmed their career 
  • Women who took at least 1 year off earn 39% less than women who did not (cough and still less than men cough

Not to mention 1.8 million women left the workforce during the pandemic! 

Of the working mothers in the workforce: 

It doesn’t help that the US is 1 of 6 countries that do not offer paid parental leave. More on that in HR Therapy and in next week’s edition!

So, we’re not great at supporting women when they need to take leave to bring life into this world and we’re not great at supporting them when they come back to work after a major transition to parenthood. 

So, um what are we great at again? Asking for a friend. 

Why it matters:

If working mothers aren’t getting the support they need from their employers are they getting it from their partners or the government?

Also, no. 

The world has relied on the unpaid labor of women for far too long. A topic I will cover soon!

And we’ve seen the impacts:

  • Working mothers left the workforce in waves during the pandemic
  • There continues to be a pay gap between women <> men
  • Working women are burning out at higher rates

But we NEED women in the workforce. 

  • Fortune 500 companies with more women on boards do better financially (btw white women are still the majority) 
  • The more gender diverse a team is the higher sales / profit 
  • When more women enter the workforce, our wages rise

Instead of creating barriers for women and working mothers, you can be an employer/HR team that supports those groups. 

How HR teams can support working mothers:

You know, I’ve always got tips for you and something for you to walk away with!

Here are 4 things you can do to better support working mothers. 

1. Support hybrid work. Hi, it’s me, again, citing the many many benefits of hybrid work LIKE flexibility. Flexibility to working mothers is crucial. It enables them to have time for their work and their family life. 

Bonus points: make that flexibility guilt free! Encourage it, support it and make it known to mothers that utilizing the flexibility will not impact their careers. 

2. Document your parental leave and return policy. Typical parental leave policies will state the obvious: how much time is given off, how to take it, and additional options. 

Go one step further and actually outline the plan for how mothers can take AND return from leave. Have a transition plan that managers can work on so that mothers have clarity on how your company will support them. 

3. Foster community for parents. A Parent Employee Resource Group is a good place to start. Let your parents get together and chat about their experiences. If they have a suggestion for what would make the workplace more friendly for parents, hear them out! 

Don’t forget: Community and connection is crucial for retention and engagement. 

4. Pay for child care. Yes, you read that correctly, pay for it. In a time where employers are cutting back on benefits I’m suggesting you consider adding one. That tracks for me.

This could spark some inspiration: here are 17 companies that help with employee child care in some way! 

Next week, I’ll be focusing on what we get wrong about parental leave and how to build a better policy to support your employees!