Creating a Workforce that Embraces the Working Mom



Exactly one year to this day, I was working from home. I had my two kids and a full-time job to juggle. It was an adamant time for me. I understand why women can reach a point of downshifting their careers or voluntarily leaving the workforce during COVID -19 due to caregiving responsibilities. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed during the pandemic; mothers were more likely than fathers to consider scaling back or leaving their employer because of COVID -19. Mothers are three times more likely to be responsible for most of the household chores. It's no surprise that caregiving responsibilities can be a challenge for women and their success in the workplace. If you add the pandemic to that, you will indeed find many holes in company cultures. LinkedIn has announced a new job title called 'Stay-at-home mom' This story was groundbreaking for many women. The job title would help women explain employment gaps in their careers. Gaps in employment are always a red flag to employers. I struggled to support my gaps in work when I had my second child. I wanted to stay home and bond with her outside of the standard 12 week period. The change in job title on LinkedIn will allow employers to see that the mother of children was home taking care of her kids. Women in most demographic groups earn less than men earn even when controlling for differences in compensable factors, PayScale reported. When looking at collected pay data and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) elements, the survey found the following:

  • Black women make 97 cents for every $1 white men with the same qualifications, while Hispanic women make roughly 98 cents.

  • Among workers who were laid off and found other work, Black women had the second-largest uncontrolled pay gap, 73 cents, compared to different groups of women. Hispanic women had the largest at 71 cents.

  • Only 22 percent of employers surveyed said that compensation is part of their DE&I strategy.

Women lost 156K jobs in 2020 while men gained 16K jobs, reports the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some women were laid off, and others voluntarily resigned. Black and Latina mothers have had a challenging time, leaving work higher than their white peers. Sadly, it has been 33 years since we have had so few women in the workforce. It's like a she-cession just occurred. A report by Forbes says women aren't voluntarily stepping out. They're being shoved out by unnecessary job loss, shuttered schools, lack of childcare, pay disparities, and lack of public policy to support working women, especially during the pandemic.

Most women like the flexibility to work from home and go into the office. I can appreciate the option to work remotely on some days and in the office on others. Working from home can cause strain on the workload and productivity losses if you are 'mom-ing. The balance is pursued because women like to nurture their kids. During the pandemic, kids really can't sit still enough to do distance learning alone. The cost of child care can take a chunk out of a household's budget. Some women have left the workforce because it costs more to send them to a school than to stay home. That's pretty disheartening to hear. As the COVID rates decrease, women will start reentering the workforce. Here are a few tips to help women navigate back to the labor force:

  • Tap into your network virtually - Talk to friends and family openly about your desire to return to work. You will be surprised at the opportunities that will come your way by simply putting yourself out there amongst peers.

  • Polish your skills while you have downtime - Take free courses online, read articles, research careers in other industries, practice, and get ready for interviews.

  • Update your resume - Make sure your resume is up to date and explicitly state that you were a stay-at-home mother during the Global Pandemic.

  • Set realistic expectations - Reentering the workforce can be challenging. You might have to take a role that is not the same level as your previous job. Your experience will help you get to the next opening sooner than you think. Do not be discouraged if you do have to take a job paying less to start. After my second job, I had to do it and slowly worked my way back to a Management role.

  • Reach out to Staffing agencies - Agencies are constantly recruiting active and passive job seekers. There may be a temporary role at a company that can turn into a permanent position. Perhaps, a full-time role may be available for you.

After the pandemic, we will have to examine how the pandemic has affected women's careers. Now is the time for women to take an aggressive approach if they are ready to reenter the workforce. The statistics look grim now, but this pandemic has taught us most companies were underprepared. Companies will have to review their compensation packages and benefits. They will also need to adopt policies that support working mothers. Companies should also use automated resume - screening tools to reduce bias and create diversity goals. My company has implemented many of these practices. The pandemic could bring about an unforeseen and welcome reevaluation of the American work-life balance and work structure, but only if we learn from COVID-19 and work speak up at companies when women are being looked over and treated unfairly. Most women can't take a knee and exit the workforce forever for full-time motherhood. We have to work together and support one another in the journey of reentering and navigating through their careers.