By: Michelle Berg
My mom has and has always had an incredible work ethic. Starting her career with no formal education past high school meant she was going to face some barriers as she fought to climb the corporate ladder. She worked long hours which meant she wasn’t always at my baseball or basketball games or was able to help me with my homework. But I never resented her. It just was the way it was. She never complained and neither did we.
But is that how it’s supposed to work? In order for someone like my mom to have the career that she is so very proud of, should the expectation be that she give up her family time?
It seems ludicrous to me and yet, in 2018 I don’t see us any further along than we were in 1998. Most organizations still cut employee’s off completely from email as they go on mat leave and they hardly plan their transition back. When they do come back, they expect them to be running on all cylinders immediately. And that first day a mom calls in sick because their kid is sick, she is often treated similar to have committed a fraudulent crime – if not in practice but definitely in tone.
At the end of the day, businesses need to figure out that women make up a significant part of the workforce and that only 18% of women are childless by the time they reach age 45. Figuring out how to accommodate families must become a bigger priority for businesses. The employee experience needs to be approached from a design perspective – leaders must lead with empathy for what it’s like to come back to work and programming must demonstrate real value back to new moms (and let’s face it, all parents). It’s not just about a work from home program either. Any mom will tell you that DEFINITELY isn’t the answer. But it is about creativity and innovation.
So – to all mother’s working or not – Happy Mother’s Day. You have earned the hardest and yet most rewarding job ever. Stop beating yourself up. And just remember there are no job descriptions or handbooks for this role. There are no performance reviews that are tied to higher compensation. Your kids can’t really fire you. And fortunately (or unfortunately), you can’t really resign from your post either. But working mom’s do have a voice that can be louder as part of a collective community. Just check out fairygodboss.com for an online community looking to make that difference.
By the way…any stories out there of organizations who have gotten it really right (or really wrong) for working mom’s (or dad’s who took the time off)? Would love to share and collaborate on any approaches that are being implemented to change how moms transition out and back into a company!
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