The Case for Working Moms

The current economic climate requires you to ask more from every employee – just to stay competitive. Based on the current environment, the Corporate Leadership Council recently declared an “Engagement Crisis” across all employees.  They found:

    • Discretionary effort has decreased by 64% since its peak
    • 1 out of 4 high potential employees plans on quitting in the next 12 months
    • Only 13% of senior executives report high discretionary effort, which reflects a 55% decline from 2006 levels.

So the question we are asked most is:  ”Why should we focus on working mothers and why shouldn’t it be working parents and/or women?”  The following information will illustrate how the responsibility and pressures of raising a family (in addition to work outside the home) results in both unique benefits to your company as well as an opportunity to solve the unmet needs specific to working mothers.  Today’s work-life programs focus primarily on the work environment and managing work-life conflict.  The unmet need for today’s working mothers is making the job of raising a family easier and less stressful.

Value To Your Business

  1. Mothers have tremendous economic power. They make 80 to 85% of the $2.1 Trillion family purchase decisions each year.  They are an invaluable resource in identifying and developing new markets.
  2. Scientific study shows that motherhood creates valuable work skills. In her book The Mommy Brain, Katherine Ellison used social and neurological research to discover that motherhood develops and enhances:
    • Multi-tasking
    • Stress-coping mechanisms
    • Social Skills
    • Emotional Intelligence
  3. Working Mothers (with children under 18) are one of the largest segments of the workforce. Working mothers represent one  in six of all employees and are one of the largest diversity groups.

Working Mother Challenges

  1. Working Mothers have the primary responsibility for raising the family. Despite growing involvement of fathers, raising the family is still a mothers’ job.
    • In families with two working parents, almost 8 in 10 mothers report being responsible for raising the family.
    • 84% of single-parent households are headed by a woman.
    • The most recent comparison of full-time working mothers and working fathers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found:
      • Mothers spend 53% more time on family and home related activities than fathers
      • Mothers spend 22% less time on leisure activities than fathers
  2. Mothers struggle with guilt at the office. A Pew Research study found that only 20% of working moms believe full-time work is ideal for them, while 72% of working fathers find it ideal. A poll by Workingmother.com found that:
    • Almost 6 in 10 mothers feel guilty every single day
    • Another 3 in 10 mothers feel guilty at least once a week
  3. More than ever, they are going it alone. According to the 2008 Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 3 in 10 working mothers are raising their family as a single parent.
  4. Mothers are hesitant to highlight any challenges with raising their family. Studies demonstrate an unconscious cultural bias against working mothers.  Mothers want to deemphasize their family needs and any differences to other employees to minimize the motherhood penalty.  A recent study in the American Journal of Sociology found that:
    • When compared to identical women without children, working mothers:
      • Receive lower scores for competence, commitment, and promotability.
      • Are offered lower starting salaries.
      • Are 45% less likely to be recommended for hire.
    • Conversely, working fathers were found to rate higher than non-fathers on all these same factors.
  5. Raising a family comes at a mother’s personal expense. Managing infinite demands with finite time and energy, working mothers are sacrificing their personal needs to meet those of their families.  The chart below shows where full-time and part-time employed mothers believe they have their greatest challenges in motherhood.

Working mothers are a valuable, large, and growing segment of the workforce.  By nature of their responsibilities at the office and at home, they experience the greatest work-life conflict.  Mothers are further challenged to speak publicly about those pressures for fear that it reinforces the stigma that mothers are less competent or committed to their jobs.

Implications To Your Business

Work-life balance is a universal issue, yet mothers are under even more pressure.  As Gen X and Gen Y increase their composition of the work force, family-friendly environments become even more critical.  The answer is to address the whole employee and develop programs and benefits for the entire work-life spectrum:  work experience, conflict management, and maximizing the family experience.  The greatest gift any employer can give to a working mother is the strategies, tools, and best practices to achieve greater balance, success, and happiness in her family life.

Inspiring Moms specializes in mothers and motherhood.  Contact us about creating a program to enhance your current work-life solutions.