Attracting and Retaining Working Mothers
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind, always.”
Many of us know or have seen some version of this quote. And for the past 14 months, the pandemic and the civil unrest put a spotlight on the obstacles and hardships that people face every year, but particularly this year. While there were so many different challenges that affected us all differently, there was one demographic that was hit particularly hard: mothers. And since we just celebrated the mothers in our lives this past Sunday, we wanted to discuss the hardships that working mothers have been facing since March 2020.
According to Center for American Progress, “Four times as many women as men dropped out of the labor force in September, roughly 865,000 women compared with 216,000 men.” The loss of childcare and closure of schools, made working, even working from home, incredibly difficult for so many parents but it seems mothers have seen more of the burden. Based on a study done in October 2020, Pew Research Center found that, “Working mothers are more likely than working fathers to say they felt like they could not give 100% at work and needed to reduce their hours during the pandemic.” This resulted in a disproportionate job loss for working mothers. And when we think about this from an intersectional framework, we know the struggles for low-income, single, and/or BIPOC mothers were two-fold. Luckily, for all families, childcare, schools and other educational activities are opening back up. And for mothers living with school-aged children, the unemployment rate has reduced by more than half from 13.9% in April 2020 to 6.0% in January 2021 (U.S. Census Bureau data). And we hope that things will continue to move in this upward trajectory for mothers and all those who suffered from job loss. That being said, there were some 1.2 million more mothers unemployed compared to the same month the previous year, when mothers’ unemployment rate was just 3.5% (U.S. Census Bureau data). So, there is much work to be done to help mothers get back to work.
Three Tips to for Employers to ATTRACT and RETAIN working mothers (as well as other parents/caregivers):
Implement an internal audit: Do you know how many of your employees are parents/caregivers? Do you know how many parents/caregivers are in leadership positions? What is the retention rate for working parents? Once you know what is happening at your company, you can be make steps to not only improve the numbers but ensure that you are offering assistance, programs and accommodations to help support your employees.
Consider benefits and workplace accommodations: Parental benefits like paid maternity/paternity leave, childcare assistance like reimbursement for daycare fees, or an on-site childcare service or pump room for new moms can all be seen as assets and competitive benefit packages even if perspective employees aren’t parents yet but may be thinking about their future. And since so many companies have seen that working remotely can work, are you able to offer employees that option when needed or even create hybrid remote/in-person roles to accommodate working parents?
Lead by example on work and family/life balance: Normalize conversations about family life by talking about your own, even if you don’t have children. When you know your employees have children or even older parents who they take care of, make a point of checking in and asking how they are doing. Make time for these vulnerable conversations. And remember the quote we led this article with, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” But if you can make a point to glean some insight on some of those battles, you’ll be better able to support your employees. And supported employees, will be more successful, and moreover, will want to stay working with you.
Happy Belated Mother's Day to all the moms out there!
Written by Katie Avila Lougnmiller