Working Moms' Top 3 Issues Every Mother, Daughter Wants At Work
Every May, Mother’s Day reminds us that as women leaders we all at some point are daughters or granddaughters or we ourselves are mothers and grandmothers. And for the best outcomes, we need to incorporate our full selves into our work lives.
It is tricky to navigate the needs of working women who are mothers, as it has been since the Shang Dynasty’s Queen Mother of The West in 1700 B.C. held her first conference. Her palace was a meeting place for all the deities, as she was the center of all communications and she served peaches that granted her guests immortality.
You may not have magical conference room treats to offer coworkers, but today working mothers and the women who work alongside them prioritize issues in the workplace that need attention and resolution.
While Working Mother’s annual recent list of The Most Powerful Moms, salutes the usual top-earning and performing women like Beyonce, Melinda Gates, Shonda Rhimes, Viola Davis, Reese Witherspoon and Victoria Beckham, all working mothers can benefit from celebrating other working moms. That’s because women at work need to support other women at work. With or without children, women need to stand up for the flexibility every person needs in the workplace to create work/life balance.
The success of a working mother, however, does depend somewhat on where you are living and working. Some states do a better job for working mothers than other states.
“Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Child Care Aware of America, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Council for Community and Economic Research, National Partnership for Women & Families and its own proprietary research, WalletHub came up with rankings for all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” writes Marlene Satter in Benefits Pro.
The rankings considered “child care cost and availability, professional opportunities, gender pay gap, number of female executives, the female unemployment rate, the share of families in poverty, the parental leave policy score and the average commute time for women—as well as the average length, in hours, of women’s work weeks—all went into the mix,” Satter writes.
The best states are Vermont, Minnesota, New Jersey, Delaware and Connecticut. The worst states, according to WalletHub are Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, Louisiana and Alabama.
Though many issues affect the career paths of working women and working mothers, here are the top three to highlight in 2017.
Offer reasonable paid family leave.
Mothers and fathers of all children whether they are newborns or adopted or older foster children face a need for transition time off from work. If you are a daughter who needs to care for a sibling or parent, you also can negotiate some time off for those tasks with pay. If you are a leader in the position of setting the policy for the organization, consider that paid family leave makes all employees happier.
New parents need the time especially.
“Returning to work after having a child is a feat to be achieved, and the transition itself is usually difficult. One in four women return to work within 10 days of giving birth and 12 percent return after less than a week. It is impossible to imagine how challenging it is to get out of bed and head to work, leaving the side of your newborn for eight hours. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one quarter of mothers quit their job after having a baby,” writes Jennifer Jordan, Director of Mom and Baby at Aeroflow Healthcare, in The Hill.
Make breastfeeding and/or pumping at work possible.
Whether it is providing safe, secure, comfortable work areas to pump, or allowing a new mother to breastfeed while working, the biological needs of nursing working mothers require attention. For all employees, advocating for a place to retreat is worth everyone’s attention.
Australia is proving a point as Greens party co-deputy leader in Parliament, Senator Larissa Waters, breastfed her newborn from the chamber.
“The milestone comes after Senator Waters instigated changes to Senate rules last year, extending rules that already allowed breastfeeding in the chamber to allow new mums and dads to briefly care for their infants on the floor of parliament,” The Australian reports. “The House of Representatives has made similar changes.”
In this country, Jordan writes in The Hill, “The undeniable rewards of preventing maternal deaths and the boost to the economy are worth looking at as a society. Many mothers feel like they are forced to choose between breastfeeding and a 9-to-5. Over 80 percent of babies are breastfed after birth, but the rate of breastfeeding falls quickly after mothers return to work. Our country has made many improvements for working moms in the past, but now we must do better, starting with policy and access to resources.”
Provide affordable child care on site or offer financial assistance for care for all family members.
“A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research found that the cost of childcare had risen to the point where some parents in low-income families effectively pay to work. The think tank blamed a lack of support under the current system of tax credits as much as it did spiraling nursery charges. The report said a woman with a partner and two children who works fewer than 16 hours a week and earns the government’s national living wage would see her childcare costs overwhelm her earnings, leading to a net loss,” reports The Guardian.
Costs of child care — and elder care– can range from hundreds of dollars per week to half of a monthly income.
“Recent studies show that of any policy aimed to help struggling families, aid for high-quality care has the biggest economic payoff for parents and their children — and even their grandchildren,” writes Claire Cain Miller in The New York Times.
“It has the biggest positive effect on women’s employment and pay. It’s especially helpful for low-income families, because it can propel generations of children toward increased earnings, better jobs, improved health, more education and decreased criminal activity as adults.”
Miller writes, “A powerful new study — which demonstrated long-term results by following children from birth until age 35 — found that high-quality care during the earliest years can influence whether both mothers and children born into disadvantage lead more successful lives.”
Relief may come for working parents in the proposed budget for a dependent care credit.
“The amended version includes a Child and Dependent Care Credit that would allow working parents to cut a maximum of $2,100 from their tax bill each year to account for child care spending. For low-income families, benefits from the Earned Income Credit could be capped at $1,200 toward child care expenses,” according to The Romper.
As a working mother, consider adhering to Leadership Power Tool #5 as created by Take The Lead Co-founder and President Gloria Feldt. “Carpe The Chaos. Change creates chaos. Today’s changing gender roles and economic turbulence may feel chaotic and confusing. But chaos also means boundaries become more fluid. That’s when people are open to new ways of thinking, to innovation, and to new roles for women. Carpe the chaos, for in chaos is opportunity.”
Advocate for yourself and other women in the workplace in order to create a culture that is open to all the options of living a life we each deserve.
As Feldt, leader, mother and grandmother writes, ”I’m a practical activist. I want my work to have impact that is not just meaningful to me, but moves the dial toward my life’s purpose of equality and justice for all women: for you, and our daughters, and our granddaughters. That’s the legacy I want to leave, the passion that propels my work.”
About the Author
Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldon www.micheleweldon.com