If you're a woman who works outside of the home and a mother as well, you get it in spades. If not, it's time to.
Women are more than 50% of the workforce. And many of these same women are also mothers, raising children. Problem is, the business world doesn't seem to fully understand what this means. Yet.
There are some areas where businesses are starting to listen and beginning to understand -- wage equality, paid family leave, and the push for more women in leadership positions. All important issues, not only for women but for our society as a whole.
And most of us would agree that work/life issues as they impact working mothers (and fathers) are "at the table" today in many business discussions. Steps forward. Yet particularly for working mothers, the steps aren't far enough.
The realities are that millions of working mothers are unable to achieve and maintain any modicum of work flexibility and many fail to take or use their full maternity leave. Many are being challenged in terms of their commitment to their job when a need arises regarding their children (and make no mistake about it...these "needs" continue for 21+ years). And still others - and there are more than is known - are being forced, often in subtle but powerful ways, to choose between their careers/jobs and being a parent.
I don't know anyone who would want to face these kinds of choices.
Let's think about a few things:
Do companies truly believe that it's still okay, in 2018, for such struggles to exist for working mothers? Would those in senior leadership accept the same for their wives, daughters, or granddaughters? And yes, I realize that women can be the ones exerting this pressure too.
Do companies think choosing motherhood means that their education and experience becomes an afterthought or that the time they've spent investing in and creating their careers suddenly has no meaning? Or value?
Do companies not understand the big picture and think that the time (measured in years) working mothers spend raising and instilling values and qualities in their children - the same ones companies want in their future employees ... things like integrity, honesty, respect and kindness - happens in only a brief few months? Or by age 5?
There are firms developing career reentry initiatives to help working mothers return to the workforce after spending "x" number of years raising their children. And recommendations are now seeing the light of day for how to address a gap in a resume when it relates to parenting. Why is stating that raising the next generation is something to be ashamed of, to excuse, or to hide? Since when did raising a child equate to something to apologize for? What messages are we giving and being forced to accept?
Working women who are mothers deserve to have their abilities and their needs supported, both as parents and employees. And this happens when "family-friendly" companies as defined by their culture and behaviors up and down the organization resonate with every working mother no matter their position, title or role. Policies are great, but don't replace attitudes and actions.
For those companies truly embracing working mothers and not asking or expecting an explanation or apology about their life choices or how they've spent or spend their time, hats off. And for those who aren't there yet, it's okay...we aren't going anywhere and our voices will continue to be heard.