Companies Leveling Up :: Innovative Ways Corporate America is Supporting Moms and Families

Companies Leveling Up :: Innovative Ways Corporate America is Supporting Moms and Families | Houston Moms Blog

  • Women now account for just under half of the labor workforce in the U.S.
  • Women have earned the majority of bachelor degrees since the early 1980s.
  • As of 2015, 70% of all mothers with children under 18 are employed outside the home. {This has leveled off or seen a slight decrease since a peak around 73% in 2000}
  • Women made up 5% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies in 2018 and were only about 10% of the CEO candidate pool. {And there is indication this number is falling}.
  • Anecdotally {not so scientific here}, the attrition rate of working mothers in Corporate America MUST be examined more closely.

Working mothers are a powerful force in the U.S. economy and our labor force. Corporate America has made a concerted effort to examine gender diversity, pay parity, and parental benefits. However, I find the effort to look closer at working mothers is flippant and superficial. This is a costly mistake. We lose many of the women in our executive management pipeline after childbirth. These are the women we have invested in through STEM programs, extensive corporate training and development, and mentoring and sponsorship. As tech company founder, CEO, and mother to three daughters, Amy Nelson, stated, we have examined the glass ceiling, but what about the maternal wall? I was surprised to find that there is not extensive research out there about moms hitting a “maternal wall”, or a motherhood penalty. It’s just sort of accepted. We are told by top company leadership when we choose to leave, “Well, that’s what I expected. It’s hard being a mom of young children.” And with a genuine sense of joy for us, they wish us well staying home to care for our babies {actual experience}.

In my case, this is not what I intended to do at all. I started my own company. Childcare is still a major part of our household expenses. I still meticulously plan our family calendar to get in all the work and all the family things. And I want to sing from the rooftops to mothers that you have options. Don’t ever let Corporate America or life circumstances make you feel stuck.

I am now on a very personal mission to compete with those stodgy Corporate America institutions for some of the best and brightest minds out there – passionate working mothers of young children.

And city of Houston, I have a direct message for us::  energy and healthcare, our two main industries, can do better. Much, much better. 

But here is a shout out to the companies doing something better. Corporate America has bright beacons of change in support of working parents. {Yes, fathers are integral to this equation too. However, see my post on specifically addressing working mothers – it’s a must}. There are companies out there seeking out a win/win and investing in the care of their employees over the long haul.

Here are some examples ::

 1. Paid Maternity Leave / Paid Adoption Leave

Why in 2019 is this even still a question? IT IS APPALLING.

Don’t EVEN start with the reasoning that U.S. companies cannot be profitable if they offer paid maternity leave. This has been debunked. This is beside the fact that CEO and Executive salaries are steadily {in some cases drastically} increasing. This is also beside the fact that the United States touts itself to be one of the most innovative, problem solving corporate landscapes out there. So this lame excuse has to be given the shame it deserves.

As this Forbes article by Mary Beth Ferrante states, ” Research from the Boston Consulting Group outlines that paid leave works. It significantly reduces attrition rates, attracts better talent, improves morale and productivity, shows a commitment to employees and values and also attracts consumers and improving the brand. For example, when Google expanded their leave from 12 weeks to 18 weeks, the rate at which new mothers quit dropped by 50% . That translates into millions of dollars saved for the company as well as improved morale and retention of knowledge. And EY ran a study showing that 92% of employers with a paid leave policy reported a positive or no effect on profitability.”

I am happy to say Shell, based out of the Netherlands, stepped up in 2017 to offer paid parental leave benefits.

 2. Childcare / Back-up Childcare / In-home Babysitting

Wow, babies have a darn mind of their own – one day just fine and the next a 101 degree fever. If only they could give us some warning so that we could plan their illnesses in our calendar!

Sarcasm aside, it gets awfully hectic in those first few years of raising a baby. There are scheduled doctor’s appointments, spontaneous doctor dates, unexpected fevers, unexplained and uncontrollable crying, all-nighters without a wink of sleep for anyone in the house.

These little humans are enigmas that sometimes take a magical deciphering code ring to figure out. We can’t plan around them. Ok, we try, but our plans are often thrown back up on our nice blouse as we are running out the door to an important meeting, if not leaking out of an over full diaper we are trying to ignore.

Childcare in the workplace is such a huge benefit that it cannot be fully relayed the amount of immense relief on schedule and peace of mind it brings. Yet it actually is one of the first benefits to get cut and/or challenged for necessity.

 3. Flex Schedules / Phased Return from Maternity Leave

Employers are getting creative with flexible work schedules. The doors are opening to negotiate and formulate a flexible schedule with companies no matter you life circumstances. However, formal policies on flexible work schedules should be considered specifically for mothers returning from maternity leave and not lumped with other life circumstances.

Roxana Moddahi states in this Forbes article, “One firm that is taking employee retention very seriously is Snapchat creator Snap Inc. A long, paid maternity leave and in-house childcare are two benefits they offer new mothers. I had the pleasure of speaking with Nona Farahnik Yadegar, a senior manager at Snap. She recently became a new mother and is looking forward to returning to work after her six-month paid maternity leave.

‘By the time I head back, my baby will be sleeping through the night and I will have taken full advantage of bonding time with my son,” said Yadegar.

When asked if she would have gone back to work without such a flexible policy, she responded: “My goal is to have a long and fruitful career in leadership positions, but I’m only going to be able to do that at organizations with family-friendly policies. It would be very difficult to work at a place that does not recognize me as a mother. In the first six weeks of his life, I was feeding my son every two to three hours, and it’s hard to imagine being put in such a difficult position: staying up all night with a baby, heading to work without any sleep, pumping when you have a minute to provide your child with breast milk, and then coming home to do it all over again.'”

 4. Company Culture / Unconscious Bias Training / Quotas

This is that elephant in the room that hides behind middle management non-conversations and seemingly justified promotions of  young male employees over tenured mothers. This elephant is really adept at hiding in plain sight and no one can quite nail it down. It’s the quiet expectation from senior management that there will be some natural attrition of mothers in the workforce rather than seriously examining their thoughts and actions and taking a stand to actively keep young mothers in the game.

Right, right – it’s not their job to do that. Survival of the fittest and all that other look out for yourself BS.

NO.

Companies need to take a vocal stand. Repeatedly. They need to examine their numbers and ask the hard questions. They need to openly engage with the mothers in their organization.

 5. Breast Milk Shipping Services for Traveling Mothers

Yes! Such a great and thoughtful perk.

 6. Mother’s Rooms Designed by Mothers 

If you’ve given birth and returned to work in the last 15 years, you’ve generally always had the option of a mother’s room or lactation room. But that doesn’t mean it was a good option.

I’ve heard horror stories about women being given a chair ill-fitted into a corner of the women’s restroom. Or given an office next to their manager where they were regularly barged in on. Or just a crummy room in general – poor air circulation, dusty, cubicle walls with no tables and uncomfortable chairs. Look, mostly these mothers, myself included, used the rooms without complaint. We are not complainers and princesses demanding to be treated like royalty.

But come on, Corporate America, you can do better.

 7. Expectant Mother Parking

If Target and Wal-Mart recognize our uncomfortable and sometimes very brutal waddles into a building, why couldn’t our employers?

 8. Tutoring, School Counseling & College Admissions Advising

Moms with older children need support too. The school-age years and preparing for college are time-consuming and can be nerve-wracking. Support and help go a long way to employee retention and allowing employees to focus on the work task at hand.

 9. Support to Parents in the Process of Conceiving (In-Vitro, egg retrieval, and surrogate pregnancies}

10. Resources & Support to Employees Raising Children with Developmental Disability {Autism, Down’s Syndrome, and other developmental difficulties}

I’m going to throw out a conclusion that cannot necessarily be supported by data or translate into company profits – showing compassion to those raising some of our most needy in this world is the right and just thing to do. Reflecting that in your company policies and benefits offerings is a big statement.

Conclusion

Here’s the thing :: Not all companies need to offer all of the above. That’s not the demand here. What is needed is 1) paid parental leave to properly recover from one of the most physically, mentally and emotionally demanding experiences in a lifetime, and 2) a genuine effort to engage with mothers, especially mothers of young children to help them through a grueling mental and physical period of their life.

I believe with all of my being that these 2 things translate into an ultimate win/win for EVERYONE and dismantle the maternal wall. Come on, Corporate America, step up to the plate. I’m ready to play ball!

Citations :: 

Catalyst, Quick Take: Working Parents, September, 2017.

Cortina, Hernando. May 11, 2018. Here’s How Six Companies Take the Lead in Supporting Working Mothers. Taken from www.forbes.com.

Working Mother, 2018. Working Mother Top 100 Best Companies list. Taken from www.workingmother.com.

Fottrell, Quentin. April 30, 2018. In Corporate America, a Shockingly Low Number of Women Make it to the C-Suite. Taken from www.marketwatch.com.

Nelson, Amy. January 29, 2018. Moms Are Punished in the Workplace Even When We Own the Business. Taken from www.thewashingtonpost.com.

Krivkovich, Alexis, and Kelsey Robinson, Irina Starikova, Rachel Valentino, and Lareina Yee. Women in the Workplace 2017 Report. McKinsey&Company

Statistic: Number of bachelor’s degrees earned in the United States from 1949/50 to 2027/28, by gender (in 1,000). April 2018. Taken from www.statista.com.


 

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