These Working Mothers Are Fighting To Break Down The Maternal Wall For Everyone
Well before the inception of Women’s History Month in 1987, women have recognized the importance of organizing, rallying together and amplifying their voices to effect lasting change. The fortitude, tenacity, and courage of these women have paved the way for countless achievements in the 21st century.
Their legacy lives on in every working mother who wakes up every day determined to give her all both at home and the office. Undeterred by, but profoundly affected by it, working mothers set out to juggle the demands of domestic and professional life to the best of their ability.
While working mothers do their part to successfully navigate a complex array of responsibilities; their employers, managers, and co-workers tend to view them as less competent and less committed to their work. Nothing could be more infuriating or further from the truth, and yet, study and after study suggests that , while women without children and men, generally increase their earnings at the same rate.
Women have made significant progress over the last century; this much is true. But we are still a long way off from balancing the scales of gender equity. In honor of Women’s History Month and the International Women’s Day 2019 #BalanceforBetter theme, I’ve been focused on exploring what that really means. Balance is a term that often brings up many emotions, especially for working mothers who feel the pressure to lead perfectly balanced lives. For me and our team at Live.Work.Lead., this theme goes beyond finding your own version of work-life balance but is really about creating 360-degree support to improve balance across cultures. By working with organizations to support individual employees, train managers & leadership and improve policies (paid leave, re-onboarding, flexibility), we are constantly on a mission to improve gender balance for individuals at home and at work, but also across the organization.
And we are far from alone. I reached out to working parent experts who like myself, are in the trenches, advocating for and championing other working mothers. Here’s what they had to say about altering the perception of working mothers, and how we can better support them at home and the workplace:
Blessing Adesiyan, Founder & CEO, MotherHonestly
It’s important for women to achieve equality not only in the workplace but also at home. It means men stepping up to help their wives bathe and feed the kids, do the laundry and help with activities that reduce the amount of time women spend on household chores. I believe this alignment and balance at home allows women to achieve better balance at work. At work, we can achieve better balance when employees seek to continually improve the lives of women by prioritizing what matters to them – paid maternity leave, equal pay, and flexible work. The modern woman is willing to work harder for a company that emphasizes this than a company that doesn’t.
Lauren Smith Brody, Founder of The Fifth Trimester
New motherhood is the first time many women negotiate for balance in the workplace. The hundreds of women I surveyed for my book felt emotionally and physically healed from birth at 5.9 months postpartum, on average—months after their return to work. They weren’t sleeping seven hours straight until seven months. They were spending nearly their entire post-tax income on childcare. Is it any wonder so many of them drop out? It shouldn’t all be on the parents – those of us barely holding it all together – to be the changemakers. By investing in paid leave, on-ramping, and flexibility for this transition, businesses can improve recruiting and reputation, save the minimum six-to-nine months of salary that’s lost from attrition, and keep women in the pipeline to leadership, where they are known to boost profitability, stock value, and the GDP. Mothers are a golden-ticket investment.
Lindsay Mitchell & Lauren Brandt, Co-Founders of The Returnity Project
#BalanceForBetter means building infrastructure across all workplaces that support mothers with adequate paid maternity leave and programs focused on the transition back to work. By retaining more women with children in the workforce, we can collectively create #BalanceForBetter.
Katherine Goldstein, Host of the Doublshift Podcast
We need to move away from a world where it’s left only to mothers to advocate for better family leave and workplace policies. In my reporting, I’ve found that when men who are in positions of power are transparent about their caregiving responsibilities, it can help create a culture that’s much more supportive of moms.
Hayley Nivelle, Founder of Ellie App
Any working mom has two full-time jobs…employers can help foster equilibrium by being open-minded towards flexible work arrangements, by acknowledging that a working mom is bringing a lot of the table and by walking the walk when it comes to providing pumping rooms, strong maternity leave policies and flexibility in the workplace.
Sarah Lux-Lee, Founder of Mindr
By now, most employers know that diverse teams make for better business — the question is how to lay the infrastructure to make that diversity possible. By opening up communication around working parents’ needs, from exploring flexibility, to facilitating a sense of community, to creating a culture of openness around breastfeeding and pumping, Mindr is proud to be helping companies across the board embrace #BalanceForBetter.
Mary Beth Ferrante is CEO of Live.Work.Lead. and drives organizations to provide better support for working parents, especially new moms. Download her whitepaper and follow her on Instagram.
This content was originally published here.