It is no secret that working mothers are one of the most hardworking yet overlooked groups in the US labor market. Throughout history, working moms have faced many struggles and obstacles as they progressed up the career ladder. However, some of those struggles haven’t been eradicated and still exist to this day.
Below, we’ll be discussing what struggles working parents – especially mothers – are facing in the current work-from-home (WFH) environment. We will also talk about how employers and managers can support working moms regardless of whether they are returning to a hybrid office or will be working remotely for good.
What Struggles Are Women Facing at Work Today?
We’ve spoken at length about how the pandemic led to a ‘she-cession’ and the strategies that companies have taken to overcome this. The last nineteen months have been particularly hard on working mothers. Yet, these women have been facing ongoing struggles that the pandemic either exacerbated or didn’t cause in the first place.
McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2021 report notes that strides have been made in terms of the representation of women in senior leadership positions since the pandemic began. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to adjust the workplace culture for working moms.
Not only do these employees have to manage child care responsibilities but they’re also facing struggles related to gender economic inequality, lack of diversity, and lack of visibility when working from home. Let’s take a deeper look at each of these struggles below.
Lack of Diversity and Inclusion
For many years, there has been a clear lack of representation of women in senior leadership positions. Although more women are partaking in C-suite level positions, the majority of these positions continue to be given to white men. And for those women that are addressing diversity and inclusion issues in the workplace, this work is largely going unrecognized.
Some of the core issues being faced by women, especially women of color, in the workplace could be resolved by ensuring that workplaces are more diverse and inclusive.
For example, many women of color feel that their ideas and opinions are often overlooked or ignored. Similarly, working moms find that they are promoted more slowly or are given lower-priority projects than their male counterparts. According to the Women in the Workplace 2021 report, for every 100 men promoted to manager level, only 86 women are given the same opportunity.
By supporting women in their career progression and having a diverse company hierarchy, your company can create a workplace that is truly inclusive – regardless of race or gender.
It is no surprise that women – especially women of color – are still earning less than their male counterparts. Progress in bridging the pay gap has stalled and many women are currently facing a future of living below the poverty line when they retire.
According to a Payscale report, for every $1 earned by a man, women earn $0.82. Although the pay gap has improved in the last forty years, it is estimated by the World Economic Forum that it will take an additional 36 years to close the pay gap globally as a result of the pandemic. Until then, this is yet another obstacle that many working moms have to face.
Lack of Visibility while WFH
The world of WFH has brought with it some advantages (fewer hours spent commuting) and disadvantages. A new issue that many women have been noticing since the beginning of the pandemic is that working remotely can make them feel less visible in the workplace.
Already underrepresented in the workplace, combining this with online communication can cause many women to feel that it is even harder for their ideas and voices to be heard. Working moms already had difficulties ensuring that they stayed visible when in the office, these concerns are only growing as working from home continues.
Advice for Employers: How You Should Be Supporting Working Moms
For working moms to stay visible and supported in a new workplace environment that will largely take place online, there are several steps that companies must take. Managers across all levels should be doing what they can to ensure that working moms have the resources and support they need to stay competitive in the labor market.
In terms of diversity and inclusion, companies should avoid mommy tracking and should have open dialogues with women about how they can navigate their careers while being a parent. Too many times women are left out of opportunities purely for the fact that they have children. Instead, employers should support women on their motherhood journey while also giving them the opportunities they need to grow professionally.
Many women experience gender economic inequality because they must prioritize childcare responsibilities. This means choosing jobs that are part-time and less demanding so that they can also be there for their children. By offering accessible and affordable employer-sponsored childcare, companies can make sure that women never have to choose between their family and their career.
Lastly, each employer must allow all employees to have the space they need to stay visible in the workplace even when working from home. Whether that is through one-on-one meetings or weekly check-ins, reinforcing the importance of communication to your managers and employees will be key to making working moms feel seen.
The Future of Women in the Workplace
If we have learnt anything from the pandemic it is that working mothers need a workplace that is flexible and supportive of their role as parents. Many women are currently at the brink of burnout as they juggle their careers, homeschooling, and household duties. Without flexible work arrangements, the future of this labor market sector will continue to hang in the balance.
The last year has taught many working parents that work-life balance will be a priority from now on. These employees are looking to work for companies that provide flexi-time, maternity leave support, and robust family leave policies. Companies will find it hard to retain working moms without putting these measures in place.
Women have always had a bright future in the workplace on the condition that their company actively supports them. Employers must act now to create a company culture that is truly parent-inclusive. If you choose not to prioritize efforts that support working moms then you are not only failing to improve their workplace struggles – you are contributing to them.
How Vivvi Supports Employers and Their Working Parents
Vivvi partners with employers of all sizes to make full-time, high-quality child care more accessible and affordable for working parents.
Our team of experienced early childhood educators can work with you to provide next-level child care solutions across our campuses, in-home, in-office, or via virtual care. As an employer-sponsored child care provider, the Vivvi team meets the needs of your business and your working mothers – where you are and when you need it most.
Visit our employer page to learn more about the benefits of offering employer-sponsored child care solutions to your working parents.