The facts are hard to ignore. A staggering number of women left the workforce last year—nearly 2.2 million women, in fact. And some of the data suggests that many of these women were working mothers. As a working mom, I understand how they might have beenfeeling when they decided to step back.Working moms are always juggling more than their fair share; a fact that was exacerbated by thepandemic. And it’s a shame that support for working moms was not more readily available.
While some women are leaving the workforce, though, many working moms (myself included) are staying,and wewill need support long after the woes of 2020 are behind us.It’s in companies’ best interest to understand what attracts, motivates, and retains their working moms, because working moms are some of your highest performing talent.
The data speaks for itself
Female-led companies have more engaged cultures and stronger profit margins. And although some employers consider working moms a liability (yes, even in 2021), research suggests they are actually more productive than their childless peers.As a mom who has worked throughout my children’s various stages of development, I understand why. Working moms can power through issues and problems with grit and resilience, because their parenting responsibilities have trained them well.
In fact, women who are working and raising children at the same time have strength and empathy that sets them apart. They are amazing multitaskers and resilient problem solvers.They can context–switch easily.Their experiences asparents have trained them to think on their feet quicklyand come up with solutions on the fly. Working moms are also great leaders, becausethey’ve learned by coaching their ownchildren and families. They can relate to issues that some other leaders may not be able to by bridging the gap in disagreements and offering compassion.
Simply put: Working moms must be ready for anything at home, and they don’t turn that mentality off when they come into work. They are compassionate, adaptable and solution–oriented—what’s not to love about that?
Create work environments that benefit working women, especially working moms
The value of women in the workplace can’t be overstated, but the stereotypes surrounding women, especially mothers, are harmful.But employers still question a working mother’s commitment to her job, wondering if she’ll be as committed to her projects or deliverables if she puts her family first. This attitude hurts not just working mothers but all women.
So if you’re not creating an environment that attracts and engages working moms, the odds are good you’re going to lose talent and miss out on a pool of high performers.
And what do workingmoms want? It’s best to ask them.
For me and my colleagues, candidates and friends, flexibility—especially the remote-first flexibility that became standard during the pandemic—has been a game–changer. Now that I’ve experienced more flexibility as a working mother,I learned that work and family can be done at the same time where I don’t have to miss out on some of the big family moments. If your company’s demographics lean toward a younger workforce, you may need to update your leave policies or childcare reimbursement program. Remote work options and unlimited PTO? Maybe you need all of this and more. Every culture is different, so I’d encourage you do ask your employees via focus groups or engagement surveys.
The last thing you should do, though, is expect working moms to subscribe to a one-size-fits-all company culture. They want to be seen and celebrated for the value they bring. Failing to factor their desires and needs into your company’s policies and practices will only hurt your retention numbers. And asworking moms are recruited away by more inclusive, supportive companies, don’t be surprised if your bottom line feels the pain, too.
What is your plan to support working mothers and women in the workforce?