More women entering the workforce means there are more working mothers, too. And it’s a tough balance when it comes to dual income households with children. Thankfully, many companies are taking steps to better support mothers in the workplace. When working moms receive the support they need, they can thrive professionally, and play a crucial role in driving a business’ success.
This means finding that right balance between a career and familial obligations. A study commissioned this year by QuickBooks found that 32% of working mothers say they miss or neglect family time due to work commitments, and conversely, that 29% say family commitments have led to them missing or neglecting business opportunities. Some women – a quarter, to be exact – have delayed starting a family altogether simply because of work commitments, and fear that having a family will stand in their way or push them back in their careers.
Between work and family time, let’s not forget that working moms also need to find time for themselves as well, and 36% say they can’t seem to do so. Think this upcoming Mother’s Day holiday is that one day when mom can focus on her? Think again. Twenty per cent of moms surveyed said they actually feel more stressed on Mother’s Day than usual, and 18% end up postponing celebrations to focus on work.
Companies that recognize the need to support working mothers are finding value in doing so. Here are just a few examples of small steps some companies are taking.
Cisco Canada’s executive leadership team is made up of 42% women. And the company feels that its WebEx system helps working mothers achieve a better work-life balance. Using WebEx, employees can participate in meetings when they can’t physically be there. It might be more challenging to coordinate, but it allows new mothers who have just returned from maternity leave, or moms who have had to stay home on the day of a big meeting because of a sick child, to avoid missing out on important happenings at the office. Susannah Pennal, Marketing Manager, Collaboration, writes in the company blog about how she is able to work from home on Fridays, or during major snow storms, and connects via WebEx for meetings whenever she can’t be there because of a family obligation. “When my daughter woke up from her nap,” she writes, “she made her Cisco debut at our departmental all hands.”
Telus offers various work-from-home policies, which can help ease the transition for women who are coming back to work after having a child. The important thing is that the work gets done, not that it’s completed between the hours of nine and five, and from the office.
Not only do working mothers at this management consulting company have the option to take 16 weeks of fully paid maternity leave, but if they need to travel for work once they come back, the company will pay for them to ship their breast milk back home so baby can still be fed from a bottle, their supply continues, and precious milk is not wasted.
The company offers new moms, including those who adopt children, maternity top-up payments for the first 17 weeks of their leave. Once they return to work, there is also onsite daycare, eliminating the worry of having to find a suitable daycare that’s close to the home or office. This can be especially reassuring for moms who commute long distances to the office, or take public transportation to get there. The company also offers a wellness spending account of $450 that new moms, and other employees, can use to cover wellness-related expenses, like a gym membership or mommy and me exercise classes.
These are all small but meaningful steps. But it’s clear that a lot more work needs to be done to support working mothers. While some employers might view the fact that someone is a mother as a roadblock, it’s possible that this mother might very well be the best person for the job. She may be able to increase sales, forge fruitful partnerships, and identify meaningful solutions to problems, providing tremendous value to the company. All she needs is a little support to be able to do so. And that support, for the right person in the right job, might yield amazing results.
So this Mother’s Day, it’s time to start thinking not just of candy, flowers, cards, and breakfast in bed. Let’s think about ways we can better support working mothers in the workplace.
Cisco’s Connected Women group, which now has more than 4,000 members globally, helps women network with others who work in the technology space, both at Cisco and other companies.
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