We Must Speak In regards to the New Period of Working Motherhood
Almost 2.3 million women have left working life since the pandemic started. A recent study found that 42 percent of these women had children under the age of 2. This has a huge impact on the American workforce, as working mothers had 50.04 percent of all jobs in the U.S. in 2020 that mothers do too much with too little support. Working mothers continue to bear the burden of hardship caused by the pandemic, but are also key employees and juggle the various roles of motherhood – mother, teacher, cook, life planner, chauffeur, house cleaner – the list goes on.
But that’s not a new dynamic. Mothers have always cared disproportionately about psychological distress, but the pandemic has certainly exacerbated the struggles of working mothers, with the time spent looking after children during the working day having increased particularly markedly. It’s true that women are seasoned multitaskers, but the pandemic has resulted in increased burnout for mothers everywhere. And after the year that changed the world, our voices are getting louder, movements like the Marshall Plan for Mothers are gaining momentum – and more and more companies are closing down. But we still have a way to go to make real change.
Working mothers need to be heard
With working mothers making up nearly half of the workforce in the United States, investing in them is not only “right” but also makes good business sense.
Working motherhood was tough enough before the pandemic, but now being on zooms all day while navigating with my 4 year old is a whole new level of chaos. And I’m one of the lucky ones – I have childcare, flexible hours, and a supportive job. Unfortunately this is not the rule. And so, mothers are leaving working life and all the progress we’ve made so far feels like they’re being erased overnight. An you assignment, some economists even call it.
This absence leaves a void that can be felt in all companies. Women play an important role in all organizations. With the diversity that we bring with us, we offer a unique perspective. But most importantly, as a mother, you have a special superpower that she cannot teach at school or at work. Working mothers are efficient, collaborative, empathetic and just get to the point – all characteristics of good leaders. Recent research from Bright Horizons found that 91 percent of respondents said mothers have leadership skills not found in other employees.
For the good of our companies, we have to stand up for our working mothers – because we need them in positions of power to be successful.
But the work can’t stop
So where do we go from here? It is critical that companies are held accountable. They must understand their responsibility to support and recognize the worth of working mothers. We need employers who, as part of the foundation, are reorganizing the workplace with gender equality. And culturally, we need to value women’s work, both in their careers and at home.
Organizations need to make it a priority to make more resources available to their parental employees. Resources like accessible childcare, flexible working hours and paid time off are vital. In addition, closing the wage gap, ending the sentence for motherhood and providing the necessary mental health resources will change the landscape for working mothers. But above all, companies need to listen and be open to change.
It literally takes a village, as they say – but the thing is, most mothers don’t have a village. Employers must do their part to create this village.
Sejal Hingrajia is Head of Product Operations at Kinema, a new social cinema platform. With over 15 years of experience in digital media products and advertising, Hingrajia is an established digital media leader who has worked in both startup and Fortune 500 environments to bring products to market that deliver high quality user experiences, world class storytelling , combine innovative technology and brand partnerships. Prior to Kinema, Hingrajia led product and operations for the lifestyle and entertainment brands at Whalerock Industries and led the customer experience at Yahoo! Entertainment. She also launched True’s first engagement advertising platform[X] Media, a revolutionary platform that was not only the first of its kind, but was later adopted by 21st Century Fox.