5 effective ways employers empower mothers in the workplace

It’s hard to argue against the difficulty of being a working parent and having a full-time job. There’s plenty of responsibilities to juggle, schedules to manage, and balances to strike—especially for
mothers, who despite fathers increasingly taking on parenting responsibilities, remain the primary caretakers, particularly in the child’s early years.

This means that without adequate support, motherhood remains one of the greatest hurdles women face in the workplace, particularly when trying to advance their careers. And, although a lot has been done to support mothers in the workplace, the stats around this topic tell us that there’s still a long way to go before we can call for celebrations.  

Studies show that about a quarter of working moms turned down a promotion because they were balancing their work and parenting responsibilities, and women who took just one year off work earned 39% less than women who did not. And the COVID-19 pandemic has made matters worse for women in the workplace too. The New York Times found that out of the 1.2 million American parents who have had to leave the workforce in the past year, 900,000 were women—making women three times as likely as men to have left their jobs. Out of the women who remained in the workforce, 57% said they were feeling more burned out at work due to the pandemic.

If you're a working mom on the lookout for a new job, it's crucial that you not only assess an employer's salary package and benefits the role offers, but also the policies they have in place to support working mothers to avoid burnout long-term and strike a good work/life balance. So, what are the tell-tale signs that an employer is supporting mothers in the workplace?

1. They offer flexibility

Implementing flexible working arrangements like flextime, or hybrid and remote working policies can give working mothers the right environment to juggle both their work and personal lives. The traditional and rigid 9–5 setup offers little to no wiggle-room for working parents, particularly when it comes to managing commitments like school pickups and drop-offs, and sick days without biting into their annual leave.  

Flexibility is also key for parents to be able to manage their free time and achieve a healthier work-life balance, which is crucial for avoiding burnout. With the possibility to work from wherever and whenever, mothers can optimize their working days according to their needs, and not vice-versa.  

2. A formalized parental leave policy

Having a parental leave policy written down on paper often means employers are prioritizing offering ample time for mothers to recover and take care of their newborns, while ensuring that they can come back at the end of it. And, although the number of weeks might vary from one country to the next, forward-looking companies have implemented substantial changes to their parental leave policy and are already reaping the benefits. For instance, in recent years, Google saw the rate at which new mothers quit drop by half once it extended its leave policy from 12 to 18 weeks in the US.

Similarly, Accenture saw its turnover rate for new mothers fall by 40% once it doubled its leave policy from 8 weeks to 16 in the US too.

3. A family-friendly workplace

From childcare solutions, to an adequate and private lactation space, to providing sanitary products, there’s a lot that workplaces can do to make sure they cater to mothers once they return to the office. Creating a family-friendly workplace is a way of telling the mothers in your team they’re being supported, appreciated and valued in this new phase of their lives. 

Providing employees with opportunities to share advice and experiences is another way of showing support for working parents. That’s why we, at Revolent, launched our Family Matters initiative in 2020. This program allows our employees to enroll in our parent buddy system to receive additional support and guidance from other parents while balancing their careers and family life.  

Perks and benefits are an often overlooked, yet crucial element of a family-friendly workplace. Not only are these incentives essential to making the workplace more fun, and achieving an improved work-life balance, but they’re also a massive driver to hit KPIs. And while nights out, all-day team-building socials and travel schemes might be enticing to those without any childcare responsibilities, businesses offering different reward options that cover the diverse needs across the organization, are usually the ones fostering a family-friendly workplace in practice, and not only on paper.

4. Constructive efforts to close the pay gap

Most industries are still riddled with a notorious gap between what women earn compared to men. The latest Mason Frank Career and Hiring Guide shows that, for instance, only 52% of those within one of the largest tech ecosystems, Salesforce, say they believe their employer pays men and women equally. 

Ensuring that an organization is paying all workers equally, irrespective of their gender, is crucial when looking for an inclusive employer. Not only is this the fair thing to do but it’s often an indicator of a healthy business and company culture, especially when it comes to empowering parents in the workplace.  

Whether you’re looking for a new employer, or re-evaluating your current one, working for a business that champions equal rights at all levels is crucial to feeling valued and empowered. Plus, it avoids any consequences associated with being underpaid, such as the damaging effects on a mother’s well-being and self-confidence, as well as long-term effects like damage to professional goals and ambitions too, including that of having a promising career. 

5. Diversity and inclusion championed at all levels

 A diverse workforce, one that fosters inclusivity at all levels of business is an essential part of empowering mothers in the workplace. That, together with promotions, plays a fundamental part in representation. A study around Women in the Workplace by management consulting company, McKinsey & Company showed that although women tend to hold more bachelor’s degrees than men, they’re still less likely to be hired for entry-level jobs. And the further up the hierarchy, the wider this disparity. The same study also revealed that, for every 100 men, only 79 women in the company are promoted to managers, eventually leading to women holding only 38% of managerial positions.   

This is incredibly worrying for women and mothers around the world. Better support from managers and distinct development plans can help stem the so-called ‘leaky pipeline’ to female career progression. Plus, more representation in leadership roles within the companies not only motivates and empowers the person in that position, but it’s also likely to inspire other women and mothers across the business, too—making them feel more included in the business, while reinforcing their potential. 

A diverse workforce, one that fosters inclusivity at all levels of business is an essential part of empowering mothers in the workplace. That, together with promotions, plays a fundamental part in representation. A study around Women in the Workplace by management consulting company, McKinsey & Company showed that although women tend to hold more bachelor’s degrees than men, they’re still less likely to be hired for entry-level jobs. And the further up the hierarchy, the wider this disparity. The same study also revealed that, for every 100 men, only 79 women in the company are promoted to managers, eventually leading to women holding only 38% of managerial positions. This is incredibly worrying for women and mothers around the world. Better support from managers and distinct development plans can help stem the so-called ‘leaky pipeline’ to female career progression. Plus, more representation in leadership roles within the companies not only motivates and empowers the person in that position, but it’s also likely to inspire other women and mothers across the business, too—making them feel more included in the business, while reinforcing their potential.

Ready to join the world of tech as a working mother?

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