Mom Friendly Companies

The New York Times ran another article on Sunday regarding the dearth of women bosses in Fortune 500 companies.  The article covered familiar ground- lack of visible women corporate leaders, lack of women on company boards, women trying to balance work and family, etc.

So what’s my beef? I’m glad the NYT is keeping the discussion going of the inequities in the workplace between women and men.  But what I’m not seeing a lot of are stories about working moms like ME. Where are the stories of those in the middle of the management heap?  The regular “moms” trying to get ahead?

Come on reporters- play to the masses! Give us something to relate to!

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Our company’s annual holiday party is tonight.  It’s my third party, but first as a mom, so I think the rules are a little bit different for me.  Some dos and don’ts for moms at work holiday parties:

Do feel free to dance to the music; it’s a good chance to show your coworkers that you’re still alive.
Don’t get caught karaoke-ing “Like a Virgin” – you never know who’s got a cell phone camera out there and where your children may find those photos online (this is NOT a personal experience).

Do get dolled up for work that day; spend the 15 extra minutes to wash and dry your hair!
Don’t wear anything remotely similar to the photo to the left (Thank you, Tamara and Jeffrey).

Do gorge yourself on all the party apps. I’m quite sure they’re better than any dinner you were going to have at home.
Don’t stuff the dinner rolls in your purse for lunch tomorrow.  That’s not being a resourceful mom, it’s just tacky.

Do have a drink, or two (or three), if you please. You did get the night off for a reason.
Don’t overdo it. Your husband will NOT be sympathetic tomorrow and get up with the kids when you don’t feel well.

Enjoy the holiday party season!

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, new mothers are dropping out of the workforce at a higher rate.  According to the data, the percentage of married mothers of infants in the workforce dropped from 59 percent in 1997 to 51 percent in 2004.  Reasons cited for the drop include mothers wanting to nurture their children during the first year, and the increase of childcare.

Not suprisingly, other reasons cited are workplace related- not enough flexible return-to-work options, or lack of extended maternity leave.  Heck, read this story and you’ll see why us moms are tentative about returning to work.

Point is, as I’ve said before – if you lose moms in the workforce, you’ll lose employees who have stamina, the ability to multitask like nobody’s business and who can cope with long, tiring hours.  Employers – it pays to keep your moms coming back to work!

More companies to add to the mom-friendly company list.  Molly Selvin of the L.A. Times covers moms on “Mommy Track 2.0“- those moms who don’t want to forfeit careers just because they work a reduced schedule. 

On November 10, Elizabeth Vargas, of ABC’s 20/20, conducted a segment on working moms trying to balance their lives.  The segment was good- it covered all the “mommy war” issues: maternity leave, stress of working and trying to make ends meet. (Did you know that Iran and North Korea have better maternity leave policies than the U.S.?) She also made the Department of Labor spokeswoman look like she worked in an alternate universe. (Dept. of Labor: women should “save up” so they can afford to take time off when they have a child. Hah!)  But there was one part I thought Vargas missed the boat on: mommy support systems, i.e. the role of “dad.”

The segment did not feature one husband, boyfriend, partner of the 3 working women profiled.  In fact, I think the word husband only came up once, when Vargas showed a photo of hers (Marc Cohn, the singer, for those who care).  Now, I totally agree that women endure the bulk of the responsibility for child care, working or not working.  But from my experience, I couldn’t be half the mom OR employee I am today without the support of my husband.  Yes, we don’t get enough maternity leave, yes, we may face the glass ceiling that dads don’t.  But without my husband to come home early when I can’t, or to give me some peace on the weekend, raising our son doesn’t work.  Parenting takes two, and while dads may not have to consider the same set of choices or decisions that moms do, it doesn’t mean that the “mommy wars” are for moms alone.

Today and tomorrow I’m attending the Conference Board 2006 Extending Your Brand to Employees Conference.  I am getting some great insights that will help my work, and the conference is full of working moms for me to talk to.  I heard two great examples today of how companies are helping moms. Here goes.

Amy Davis of the Mayo Clinic told us today that when her son was sick and she didn’t want to leave him at home when she went to work, that the clinic has a nurse dedicated to taking care of and watching employees’ sick children.  What a great way of truly delivering on your brand promise AND making a working mom have an easier day. Love it.

Equally as interesting is what I heard from the head of HR of the law firm Goodwin Proctor.  Apparently they have on site day care at all of their offices so working moms can bring their kids to on site day care at their home office AND take them on the road if they wish.  A dream! That would bring this working mother some peace on a business trip.

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Check out the recently published Working Mother magazine’s 100 Best Companies to work for. As the site states, these are the “family friendliest” companies. I like what I see that a lot of the companies provide for working women. Flex-time, job sharing, telecommuting, good health benefits, “work/ life balance.” These are all great perks. One thing I don’t see- why aren’t there reports or measures for “career advancement.” Are women working flex schedules, part-time, job sharing still advancing in pay and status at the great companies they work for? I’d like to see that in a future survey. Anyone else?