(Hint…it depends on our partners, our companies, and us)

Had you told us that things would get worse for moms, it would have been inconceivable. Women were already exiting the workforce at 43%, losing 10% of their earning power for every child they have, and straddling their roles at work with their roles of CEO at home, at the cost of career progression. Now, those privileged enough to still hold jobs, they face additional challenges with regard to childcare, virtual school needs, less ability to outsource, strapped finances, more meals and cleanup at home… things have gone from overwhelming to unmanageable. …

In the quiet of night, in wee hours of the morning, in weekend pockets of stolen time away, there’s an Employee Resource Group leader thinking about colleagues. Maybe this leader is synthesizing responses from a survey or planning details for an event, or considering a Slack message from a struggling coworker. ERG leaders are intrinsically driven to such work, work which ultimately elevates the organization. The irony is that they often lack the support necessary to do their job.

ERGs are often seen as “extracurricular” and their work is deprioritized against their “day job” or “real job,” leaving them with little or no dedicated time to meet needs and goals. A limited budget further constrains efforts. Attracting and retaining underrepresented employees is reduced to a “nice-to-have” atop more critical business goals. …

6 amazing women who have quietly revolutionized the workplace to support caregivers

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Since we began our quest to better understand why being a working mom is so difficult, we’ve met dozens of women who are quietly leading a gentle revolution to redesign the workplace to accommodate caregivers. They do it as side gigs along with their day jobs, as passion projects on top of already full plates, often wondering how it will impact their actual career. They work discreetly and often in isolation, yet the outcome of their work is powerful.

Since Covid-19 first hit, Employee Resource Group (ERG) leaders have been doing more than ever: surveying employees, creating programs and resources, and holding space for the unmanageable responsibilities many caregivers are managing. In this article, we feature six ERG leaders representing thousands of others in their dedication, empathy and advocacy. By spotlighting these women we hope to learn from their achievements, connect information silos, and create mini tactical playbooks for others to replicate, all while affording them well earned recognition. …

There’s an unspoken bias surrounding maternity leave. We hope to help well-meaning companies do better.

“Would this have happened if I hadn’t gone on leave?” That is the pervasive question, Sunny, a product manager at a San Francisco tech company still can’t shake. She returned from leave to find she missed an opportunity for promotion; her manager submitted an incomplete performance review; and as she described, “I came back to a new manager, new role, new team, with all new people. No one I had worked with previously for four years…My manager so swiftly handed me off… Felt like I was washed up trash.” …

We interviewed 13 working moms. Their responses reveal a pattern of invisible sacrifices.

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All images by authors.

Claire is a working mom. Despite having a supportive partner, she feels she isn’t doing as much as she could at home. And despite making weekly business trips away from her family, she feels she isn’t doing enough at work. She brings in the highest sales revenue in her office but feels too busy and unworthy to ask for a promotion.

“I feel like the biggest disservice women have done is not articulating how hard it is to be a mom. I didn’t get it before having kids. I was like, ‘How hard can it really be?’” — Claire

Claire cautiously admits that before she had children, she didn’t quite sympathize with her mom coworkers. But now, here she is, a mother herself who has undergone a radical transformation. Her values and priorities have shifted, and, most importantly, she now has a family that depends on her. She’s exhausted, overwhelmed, and at her limits but feels compelled to act as if nothing has changed at work. …

About

Anne Kenny and Natalie Tulsiani

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