Dear Corporate America,
You are missing out on an entire population of dedicated workers. These people are bright, devoted, hardworking, intuitive, and compassionate. They have no problem starting work at the crack of dawn, and going to bed long after midnight. Need someone who can persevere through mental exhaustion and burnout? Need someone with fine-tuned project management skills and the commitment to see a job through to completion? I personally know tons of people that fit the bill. Tons of us. We are moms.
There is an army of mothers out here, at home, underutilized.
Why, you ask?
Well, for one, you are stuck. You have a stodgy idea of what a worker looks like. To you, an employee is a “steady” 9-5 person (and often even more). An employee works in the office during “business hours” because you believe they probably aren’t working if no one is looking over their shoulder. They must be fully indoctrinated with corporate policies and expectations. And the company comes first, perhaps even first and second.
Your unrealistic expectations in this modern world are keeping you from taking advantage of this amazing untapped resource.
Limiting Working from Home
While great strides have been made on allowing working from home and improving work life balance, it is still so far from where it needs to be. I have heard plenty of stories from my highly educated and experienced mom friends to add to my own.
I spent 3 years working from home at a major company in the pharmaceutical industry. It was tolerable only because I was grateful to have such a flexible arrangement. But I paid for that flexibility dearly, when most of my department was let go and the only people retained were the ones who worked onsite at corporate headquarters.
Beyond this, there is stigma related to flexible work. That we really aren’t working as hard as the rest of your in-house employees. I even had a fellow team member chide me that I must enjoy sitting home and watching my soaps (in fact, I don’t watch any TV at all).
I was often much more committed to completing my work than my peers. I can’t even count the times I stayed online after my coworkers left the office at five to get more done. I freely “gave” this additional time because I didn’t have a commute. I willingly put in extra hours after the kids went to bed to meet deadlines. I loved my work; I took pride in getting my work done. My superiors gave me star ratings while I worked at home. But, I was never considered for a promotion. I would have had to “come into the office” for that.
Providing Inflexible Hours
Every family has a different situation. Lots of moms are the primary household manager. Those moms may never feel like they can commit to a full-time in person job again.
Many moms fall into the role of having a career that is secondary to their husband’s career. Maybe due to income disparity or maybe just based on family beliefs. Bosses lift their eyebrows when women have to stay home with a sick kid again. Bosses might even ask if the husband will be taking their turn.
These mothers may have enough time to work a kick ass 20-hour work from home position when the kids go back to school. Or maybe a 2-3 day at the office kind of gig. How open is your organization to filling employment spaces with truly flexible work?
Sometimes just a shift from traditional working hours is needed. Instead of working 9-5, a mother may need to work from 7-3. I know many women who are in this position. There is quite a stigma against the mom who has to leave early every day to be home when the kids get home from school. Did you not notice that she was at work long before her manager arrived in order to get her work done? Did you not notice that she signed on from home again in order to finish any remaining work?
Requiring Too Many Hours for Salaried Workers
I recently met a mom who gave up 2 lucrative offers for tech jobs at a large consumer goods company. Instead, she is filling her time and pockets selling jewelry at home parties for Stella and Dot. YES. You read that right. Why? Because both offers were for salaried positions that were considerably more demanding than a standard workweek. One hiring manager said it would be a minimum of 60 hours, and the other would be 80 hours per week.
80 hours per week? For a mom? For anyone?! 80 hours per week means you need to hire two people. Period.
Sure, I bet you’ll find someone willing to do it. Temporarily, maybe. But good luck getting that from the millennials, they are entering the work force with an incredible drive for work life balance.
Expecting 100% Devotion
I cannot remember a time when employers were truly loyal to their employees. It’s a bygone era that disappeared long before I joined the workforce. In big corporate, no matter how hard I worked, I was always a number. A number that produced numbers.
How can you demand that any employee, especially a parent, be 100% committed to your organization if you are not willing to be just as devoted to them? I can promise that you will never be a priority over my family’s needs, and I suppose in your eyes that makes me a bad worker.
On the flipside, your bottom line means more to you than my family, hence the fact that you laid me off when I was 8 months pregnant. Where’s the loyalty in that?
And this letter doesn’t even begin to touch on employment pains for single parents or stay at home dads.
Do the math, Corporate America. With a few conscientious changes you will have access to an incredible hidden workforce. Don’t believe me? Try us.
Great points all around! I’m a single mom to five and there is no way I could work a “traditional” job. There is just no accommodation for the needs that I would have. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t own my own business. Times are changing and they need to change with it.
Very insightful! I work at home because of most of these reasons.
YES! I wish companies in the US understood that moms are dedicated and loyal employees and that we just require a bit of flexibility!