Working mothers are a vital part of the workforce. They bring diverse skills, perspectives, and experiences to their roles, and they are highly educated and skilled.. They are highly educated, skilled, resilient and ambitious. The millennial generation is the first generation in history in which women are more educated than men, according to a Forbes report.
However, working mothers also face many challenges and barriers that can affect their career progression and satisfaction. One in four working women in North America said that they were considering downshifting their careers or dropping out of the workforce entirely due to the pandemic, according to a McKinsey report. For working mothers, and particularly those with young children, the number was one in three.
This is a huge loss of talent and potential for companies and economies across the world. Research shows that companies with more women executives are more likely to outperform those with fewer senior women. McKinsey also estimates that advancing women’s equality could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025.
Supporting working mothers is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do. It can help companies:
- Retain and attract top talent.
- Increase employee engagement and productivity.
- Foster innovation and diversity
- Enhance reputation and brand.
What Are the Key Challenges for Working Mothers?
Working mothers face a range of challenges that can affect their performance, health and happiness at work and at home. Some of the most common ones are:
- Lack of childcare options: Working mothers often struggle to find affordable, reliable and quality childcare options for their children. This can force them to reduce their working hours, take unpaid leave or quit their jobs altogether.
- Lack of work-life flexibility: Working mothers need flexibility in their work schedules and arrangements to balance their professional and personal obligations. However, many workplaces still have rigid policies and norms that do not accommodate different needs and preferences. This can lead to stress, burnout, guilt and resentment among working mothers.
- Lack of psychological safety: Working mothers often feel judged, discriminated against or penalized for their choices and circumstances. They may face stigma or bias from managers, colleagues or clients who question their commitment, competence or availability. They may also experience imposter syndrome or self-doubt about their abilities and achievements.
- Lack of career opportunities: Working mothers may encounter glass ceilings or walls that limit their career advancement and development. They may face fewer promotions, pay raises or training opportunities than their peers. They may also have less access to mentors, sponsors or networks that can support their growth and visibility.
How Can Leaders Support Working Mothers in the Workplace?
Executives and leaders, we have a crucial role to play in creating a supportive and inclusive workplace culture for working mothers. Here are some actionable steps to take:
- Provide childcare support: Companies can offer childcare subsidies to help working mothers afford quality childcare services. They can also partner with local providers or create on-site facilities to offer convenient and safe childcare options. They can also allow working mothers to bring their children to work when necessary or appropriate.
- Offer work-life flexibility: Companies can implement flexible work policies and practices that allow working mothers to choose when, where and how they work. They can also respect their boundaries and preferences, and avoid contacting them outside of their working hours or expecting them to be available at all times. They can also encourage them to take breaks, vacations and leaves as needed.
- Create psychological safety: Leaders can foster a culture of trust, respect and empathy among their teams. They can recognize and appreciate the contributions and achievements of working mothers, and celebrate their milestones and successes. They can also provide constructive feedback and guidance, and avoid making assumptions or judgments about their work quality or commitment.
- Enhance career opportunities: Leaders can ensure that working mothers have equal access to career development and advancement opportunities as their peers. They can provide them with challenging assignments, coaching, mentoring and training that match their goals and aspirations.
How Can You Learn More and Take Action?
Supporting working mothers is not only a moral duty, but also a strategic advantage for companies. By creating a supportive and inclusive workplace culture, companies can unleash the full potential of female talent and drive business performance and growth.
To learn more about how to support working mothers and promote diversity in the workplace, contact your local AIMS International partner today.