With Mother's Day coming up, it's a good time to look at life for working moms. Although we've made tremendous strides as a culture, the fact is that mothers — even those at the highest levels of their companies — still do a disproportionate amount of the work at home. And that affects what they can contribute at the office.
These findings from Pew Research Center make it a bit more real:
Working mothers spend twice as many hours on childcare and housework than working fathers do.
Women in senior management are seven times more likely to do over 50% of the housework than men at the same level.
Most male CEOs have spouses who are the lead childcare givers.
There’s a lot at stake here for women and the organizations they work in, as research consistently shows a correlation between women in executive positions and better company performance. Gender-diverse companies outperform others financially by 15%. To reap the benefits of more women leaders in the workplace, as a leader, you can take action to help them thrive.
First, think about how the design of jobs on your team impact men versus women. Of course, any employee would likely be thrilled with more flexibility, but research shows that it matters far more to working mothers because women usually bear primary responsibility for childcare and household duties. As a starting point, take a look at what time regular meetings are scheduled and how often they overlaps with school or after-school drop-off or pick-up hours. Then, evaluate how much face time is really required to perform a particular job well.
Second, if your organization already offers flexible scheduling, how often do women or men take advantage of it? If there is a stigma about using it, how can you set a different tone? And remember that for women, flexible scheduling and career aspirations can go hand-in-hand, per Harvard Business Review.
Third, take a moment to reflect about your perceptions (and possibly misperceptions) about women and ambition. Whether you're a woman or a man, be honest with yourself. If a position requires relocating or working more hours, what assumptions do you make about a woman’s potential level of interest? If she has children, how does that affect your viewpoint? How often have you or others around you taken a woman out of consideration for an opportunity without even discussing it with her?
Finally, examine what you can do to support high-potential women on your team. When was the last time you talked with her about her career aspirations and priorities, personal and professional? How often do you coach her on ways to be more effective or help her network with key leaders?
This week, identify one action you’d like to take to make a real difference for the working moms on your team. And in your own Mother's Day celebrations, remember to be grateful for these dedicated, multitasking moms and the value they bring.
For a powerful investment in your organization's women, consider offering my WOW! Women On the Way to Peak Performance Program℠. It gives you access to strategies used by successful executives without investing in training that costs thousands of dollars and time away.