Women’s History Month allows us to celebrate those who blazed trails before us but it also shines a light on how far we have to go. Between the “Me Too” movement, our lack of formal paid leave policies, being paid $.80 on the dollar compared to men, it can sometimes feel like we are moving at a snail’s pace. With this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, #EachforEqual and MomSource’s commitment to helping women and progressive employers come together, we explored what equality means to our members. Overwhelmingly, equality in the workplace and in the home, plus the goal of work life blend (we like that way more than balance) were the top priorities.
Almost all surveyed responded that women having a community where they can tell their stories allows for open and deliberate conversations. These discussions with coworkers and family members are imperative at moving the needle for women. The phrase “working mom” is misleading because simply being a mother means you are working. The fact is many women recognize that being a mom is much harder than a job outside the home, because your boss is demanding and unsympathetic, doesn’t understand boundaries, and certainly doesn’t respect the 9 to 5 work policy. “Sharing the success, the struggles and the watch outs so we can begin a more intense conversation around expectations we lay on women about doing a 50 hour work week while still doing everything around the house, meaning cleaning, managing the children’s schedules, managing the household budget and maintaining a healthy relationship with your spouse,” states K.M., mom of 2, ages 4 and 7.
A new study claims motherhood is equivalent to working 2.5 jobs due to bearing the brunt of childcare and managing the household. This is even higher for single mothers. Achieving equality in the home for some has proven to be almost as hard as in the workplace. But this too is changing with dads taking on more responsibilities. “I would love to teach my children that women are powerful in the workforce, that my professional commitments are equal to my husband’s. Being that I work from home and am around a lot for them though, this distinction seems a bit lost on them. My husband tries to volunteer in my kids’ classrooms, too, so they see that it’s not JUST women who are free to volunteer and put their kids first,” offers S.A., mom of three aged 9,6, and 2.
Technology has helped businesses streamline processes and offer remote and flexible options, but it also lends itself to the 24/7 availability mindset. Which raises the question about finding balance. Most women have made or feel they have made concessions both personally and/or professionally with the hope of creating a life that works for them. Work life blend means different things to different people and can shift or evolve over time. Some have walked away from a job or went part-time to raise their children or care for aging parents while others have taken a pay cut for more flexibility and others re-prioritize work goals to continue working full time. S.D., new mom of 1, shared “before giving birth I was focused on being a top sales performer and moving up within a company. Today I focus more on performance to gain a better work schedule to balance my personal life.”
So what else can we do? Many feel there are opportunities to help ease the pressure. Work policies that promote, not just allow, family leave at any point in a career was one we heard over and over again. Another suggestion was for employers to offer better transitions back to work after a leave of absence. With women making up 51% of the workforce, it should not be up to women to lean in. It is the responsibility of businesses to rise to the occasion and create experiences that are more suitable for moms and caregivers everywhere, so we can have a more inclusive, fair and balanced society.
At MomSource, we strive every day to help businesses understand that supported and passionate employees deliver supportive and passionate client experiences. We respect and honor the notion that all moms work and everyone’s path is different. We believe a life well lived is a blend of experiences so get out there and experience life.