Women's History Month: Supporting Moms In the Workforce

Women's History Month: Supporting Moms In the Workforce

It's always a good time to celebrate the women in our lives, but there's no better day to celebrate them than during Women's History Month. And although no one ever doubted how hard it was for working mothers, the pandemic was a reminder of the many challenges faced by working mothers. As schools closed down, working moms needed to figure out how to handle watching their children, working under highly stressful conditions, and more.

Struggling to Make it Work

In a survey of more than 600 women, 58% of the women who reduced their hours or quit their jobs had children under the age of 18. 50% of the women said that they were the primary caregiver of another individual, and 33% of those individuals said that they became the caregiver after the pandemic hit.

It should come as no surprise that mothers faced the most burdens during the pandemic. Because schools and daycares shut down, mothers had to figure out how to look after their children while they worked. Many non-essential workers had the option to work from home, but this still posed a problem. Being a parent is often a full-time job, so caring for a child while working another job is nearly impossible.

After the pandemic hit, it became clear that there was a lack of support for working mothers. Most companies didn't offer support for those who were struggling to find childcare or balance the new lifestyle. Working mothers faced a significant increase in anxiety and stress.

Where was the Support?

Employers made it difficult for working mothers to remain employed on a full-time basis. Of course, this wasn't an issue for some employers, who were looking to lay off workers in an effort to deal with the struggling economy.

The real issue was a lack of flexibility. If an employee needed to stay home because their child was in quarantine, the employer made them use sick time. Or, if an employee could no longer get to work at a certain time, they made no accommodations to change the schedule.

A lack of support and empathy was the root of the issue. And although life is beginning to go back to normal, there are still many challenges faced by mothers in the workforce.

How to Show Support

As an employer, there are a few things you can do to support working moms. This includes the following:

Be More Flexible

You can show support to your employees by being more flexible with regard to their schedules. If you're willing to be more accommodating of their schedule, you may allow them to have a better balance. And this flexibility doesn't only help them. By making life easier for your employees, you reduce their stress and increase their productivity.

As you show flexibility, remind yourself of the struggles your employees have. This means having empathy, and it's something you might need to work at. Take the time to listen to your employees. Ask questions and find out what responsibilities they're juggling.

Be Compassionate

You don't need to wait for your employees to come to you. Before their performance begins to suffer, ask your employees what you can do to help them. Be understanding of their challenges and work with them to come up with solutions.

One way to show compassion is to regularly check in with your employees. Every month, have a meeting and ask for updates. As you hold these meetings, practice your active listening skills.

Hire Parents and Caregivers

Unfortunately, some employers see being a caregiver as an undesirable trait. A hiring manager might avoid hiring someone because they're a parent. But your company needs representation, and that means hiring women and mothers.

Mothers often have traits that can be an asset to your company. So, instead of seeing their role as a negative quality, try to see it as a positive one. In the end, you could be making changes that improve your business.

Offer Equal Pay

If you look at the statistics, you'll find that mothers are paid less than fathers for their jobs. You can change that trend by being mindful of this and offering equal pay.

When the time comes for a raise, you should make your decision based on performance. Don't allow gender to get in the way of fair pay. If the employee is currently underpaid because of their gender or caregiver's role, use the raise to remedy that.

Support Career Growth

Subconsciously, you may be giving your childless employees more growth opportunities. If you're not already offering promotions and other growth opportunities to your employees who have children, make more of an effort. Don't ever assume that someone wouldn't want more responsibilities just because they have a family.

Carve time into your schedule to discuss career plans with your employees. During the discussion, find out more about their plans for the future. How do they want their career to turn out? You might be surprised by what you hear.

What Should You Do as an Employee?

If you are a working mother, you might need to take a close look at your current situation. How are you handling working and being a mother? People don't always realize how much stress they're putting on their own shoulders. You could be more anxious or drained than you realize.

Once you assess your current mental state, think about what changes you could make to improve the situation. Make a list of all the things that would make your work load more manageable. For some, this could mean a more flexible schedule. After you make a list, consider whether or not your manager might be willing to work with you.

It's always important to communicate with your manager. If they don't know that you're struggling, they can't help you. Set up a time to discuss your challenges, and you may end up in a much more manageable situation. If they don't make any accommodations, you might want to look for a new position. Another employer could be more understanding.

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