Originally published by Working Mother
Building your business, or involved in a new one? Make space for working mothers as your start-up grows up.
Provide a program in your company that addresses the three core pillars of work, self and family.
When entrepreneurs begin their start-up journey, few consider what their workforce will look like a few years down the road when the recent college grads they’ve hired get thinking about starting families. That’s often the moment when the challenges of an evolving employee base seeking a new host of benefits and stability become front and center.
Last year proved to be a banner one for companies like Facebook, Netflix, Microsoft, Twitter, Google, Yahoo and Apple, which took bold steps to generously support parental leave and post-maternity benefits. The leaders of these groundbreaking companies realize they need to retain their best and brightest talent, particularly women, as they approach new life milestones. And their actions have prompted more companies to ask what it means for an innovative company to meet the needs of a very traditional issue: the working mom complex.
Flexibility, time off and other benefits are great strides forward in supporting working mothers. However, an employee’s ability to re-engage with her career, post-maternity leave, must also be part of the equation. All the perks in the world can’t substitute for programs and services that help new mothers define their new normal, build their confidence and, in spite of any fears, navigate their new working mom role with clarity.
Here are five actions employers can take right now to attract and retain working mothers.
1. Assess your employee base.
Do you have a gender diverse workforce? If not, consider how will you start to attract women. Your company must articulate its commitment to women in its employee brand value proposition.
2. Develop emerging female leaders.
Start the conversation now. Transparency is key. Create a safe space where women can learn what it means to lead, regardless of level or title. Help your female employees find their voice.
3. Invest in working mothers, both new and not-so-new.
Don’t make assumptions about how your working mom employees view themselves and their careers. How a working mother looks on the outside may not match how she feels on the inside. Instead, provide a program that supports new mothers in the transition back to work from maternity leave that addresses the three core pillars of work, self, and family. Continue to support working moms through ongoing programs and events, particularly as they are moving up in their career and becoming accustomed to the demands of working motherhood.
4. Articulate your commitment through employee brand value proposition.
Millennials are savvy job hunters. How you present your employee brand—through the words, the look, the feel, the stories you share—all matter. Many women, and men, want to know they are going to work for an organization that embraces family and gender diversity. Whoever demonstrates this, and lives it, will win the war for talent.
5. Educate your managers.
Developing an inclusive culture takes time and effort. The most exceptional programs and flashy perks will only carry the company so far. Educate from the inside out. Managers, male and female (parents or not), should be educated and embrace the company’s philosophy on diversity and inclusion.
This approach to supporting working mothers is not just about building an emotional support system. A good program will also help women “show up” with more presence and confidence as well as the ability to lead. This is about business results and understanding that your bottom line will be healthier as a result of investing in your female talent.
Elaine Davidson is founder and CEO of Works4Her (W4H), one of the first firms to offer a scalable post-maternity reengagement program for companies dedicated to retaining and investing in their working mothers, and a working mom herself. A performance consultant for entrepreneurial-minded women, she first made her mark in corporate America as an authority in global HR roles for some of the world’s finest consulting and financial services organizations.