One of the first questions I asked my OBGYN when I was pregnant was how working women accommodate the number of required doctor’s visits.
I had the flexibility and seniority in my job to decide my schedule, but for many moms, that is not the case. In a world where 70% of mothers in the U.S. that have children under 18 work full time, we still haven’t figured out how to level the playing field for working mothers.
As we’re pushing to diversify our executive teams to include women, we should also be rethinking the ways in which our company structures have been set up to accommodate men. Our hours, childcare options and networking opportunities primarily accommodate people who are either single or not required to be the primary caretaker of their child. Our HR departments and executive teams need to strongly consider how they are creating environments conducive to supporting top-tier talent that wants to have children and also thrive in their careers.
One of the key aspects of career development is networking, and networking is generally done after work and over drinks. Working moms miss out on this type of connection due to their inability to stay after work. As a mom with a crazy schedule, I often get forced to choose between advancing my career at networking opportunities or spending much-needed quality time with my child. Nine times out of 10, my child wins out. Although women have been creating online communities as a means of networking, getting face time is still vitally important to getting to know someone.
Networking provides people with the opportunity to hear fresh ideas, find new mentors, develop long-lasting relationships and hear about new opportunities. Investing in the development of your employees and their personal growth is beneficial for the overall health of your company and the mental health of your employees. To help facilitate this, for example, Mompreneur and Me has launched child-friendly networking events where moms can get the networking opportunities that they need while childcare services are offered to keep the children entertained.
So how can our HR departments and executive teams take note and support the growth of working moms? Here are three ways.
Change up the venue
Networking events do not have to be at bars or over drinks. Start thinking outside of the box about different ways that people can come together to share stories and learn from one another. Switching up the types of events that your company throws gives people with different personalities a chance to find the kind of events where they have the best chance of interacting with people.
Consider alternate times
Holding breakfasts or mid-day events increases the likelihood that more people can attend the event. If an event is after hours or on the weekend, consider having a few childcare providers and activities so that employees with children can still attend.
Discuss the complexities of working moms
There is still a lot of stigma in regard to being a working mom. There are people who feel working moms get special treatment. Some feel that when moms are working from home that they are not really working or simply don’t care to figure out ways that work for both parties. Providing forums for people to ask questions, bring up topics they may not have thought of and learn from one another will encourage all employees to think of new ways of working together.
The hurdles that working mothers face in their day-to-day lives, careers and growth are unique and provide a source of fellowship. Increasing their relationship opportunities allows them to grow in a similar manner to their peers. There needs to be a shift in our thought on how we view working mothers, an acknowledgment that their work is valued, their growth is encouraged and their thought leadership is essential.
Instead of improving the quality of our companies to support employees who are putting out great work, we are still creating roadblocks every step of the way. Despite the fact that working mothers have proven to be more efficient in their work, they are still paid 4% less for every child that they have. As the decision-makers in companies diversify, let’s take a step back and examine the way in which we interact with one another, support one another and enrich the culture of our companies.