Is your company kind to working mums?

Is your company kind to working mums?

Most of us can probably agree that the celebration of motherhood is widespread in society, yet there’s a disheartening contradiction in the form of policies and practices that undermine the well-being and career prospects of mothers. 

This dissonance is especially apparent in return-to-office mandates, combined with insufficient family and medical leave and dwindling childcare subsidies, disproportionately affecting women, who bear the primary burden of caregiving.

The Working Mum Dilemma

Full-time working mothers face a substantial wage gap, earning 74 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts in some cases. This gap widens for mothers of colour, even in high-paying professions. In 2023, Moms Equal Pay Day, which marks how far into the year mothers must work to earn what fathers did the year prior, moved forward from September 8th to August 15th, signifying the positive impact of COVID-era policies such as childcare subsidies, greater flexibility and the ability to work from home.

Flexible Work Options

To better support working mothers, companies and managers should continue offering flexible, hybrid and remote work options. While many employers are eager to return to pre-pandemic norms, the childcare infrastructure needed for working parents is often lacking. Return-to-office mandates pose significant hurdles for mothers juggling work responsibilities with childcare, perpetuating the gendered burden of caregiving.

Paid Family and Medical Leave

Paid leave is crucial for both birthing and non-birthing parents. As the saying goes, everyone deserves a break. Studies indicate that men taking parental leave can help close pay gaps, fostering greater employee satisfaction and retention. Despite evidence supporting the benefits of paid leave, companies are reducing it, creating a future where women may be underrepresented and locked into lower-paid positions. In the US, the lack of federal guarantees for paid time off further exacerbates this issue.

Affordable Childcare

Access to affordable childcare is essential for working mothers. A Care.com study reveals that childcare costs have become prohibitively expensive, with over 50% of parents spending more than 20% of their household income on childcare. This disproportionately affects low-income earners, primarily women in frontline professions. Companies should prioritise childcare as a vital benefit and advocate for government-backed subsidies.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Despite existing legislation, workplace discrimination against pregnant workers persists. The recently enacted Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in America strengthens the legal rights of pregnant workers, ensuring accommodations and support. Supporting pregnant workers not only aligns with ethical considerations but also correlates with reduced infant and maternal mortality rates, fostering healthier developmental trajectories for children.

Takeaway

For companies to truly accommodate working mothers, a comprehensive approach is needed. This includes embracing flexible work options, advocating for paid family and medical leave, prioritising affordable childcare, and implementing US legislation like the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Addressing these aspects can contribute to closing the wage gap, promoting gender equality, and fostering an inclusive work environment where working mums can thrive. The shift towards a more supportive workplace not only benefits individuals but contributes to a more equitable and sustainable society.

About Sam P

EnterpriseZone Staff Writer

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