It’s easier than you think to translate parenting skills into the workplace. For example, if you’re a mom, have you ever thrown a kid’s birthday party? That involves skills in planning, execution, project oversight, collaboration, budgeting and vendor management.
Did you parent during a pandemic? Your skills were sharpened in time management, negotiation, influencing, empathetic leadership, mentoring and resilience.
Have you conducted a 20-minute presentation to a board of directors while managing three small children with off-screen hand motions? (Can you tell this one is personal?) That takes adaptability, flexibility, creative problem solving and calmness under pressure.
If you’re an employer, you won’t find better listeners, negotiators or team members who understand the value of time more than mothers. We’re diplomatic, calm in a crisis and we care about developing those around us.
Here are 6 key ways your company can help build a parent-friendly culture:
Recognizing there is a need is the first step
Organizations of every size can work toward building an environment in which moms thrive as employees. On-site childcare, generous parental leave policies, subsidies for childcare and nursing rooms are all great ideas. If your company has fewer resources, you can always start small and grow the programs as your business does. Amp up your benefits offerings to include memberships and resources for moms by partnering with companies such as HeyMama, Twic and Milkstork, to name a few.
Provide support through communities
Encourage community among your employees with employee resource groups or Slack channels to create spaces for parents to connect and relate.
Normalize camera-off conference calls when working remotely
If a team member is juggling kids at home, it’s much easier to control the video button than to control the visual chaos of their home or a toddler walking by. You’re giving them back some dignity and lowering their stress level by setting the tone with no video.
Cultivate a no-judgment, no-apologies culture when it comes to parental duties
If a parent on my team has to take off for a few hours for a child-related commitment, they needn’t apologize for it. In turn, their teammates won’t judge them. As a manager, you can set an example on both sides. Try a project-based approach when you can. This allows employees to manage their own time against a deadline, which creates a productive and pleasant balance between flexibility and accountability.
Build a reintegration plan for mothers returning from leave
Coming back to work is tough emotionally as well as logistically. Offer a phased approach starting with a 4-day or 30-hour work week and be sure to spend time getting them up to speed on company news that happened while they were out.
Get feedback and make changes when needed
Go out of your way to check in and solicit feedback on what employees need as working moms to do their best work and feel empowered and valued. If you ask the right questions, they will give you the answers.
And remember: Whether you’re a mom or not, there are plenty of ways for you to support this vital cause within your community and at work. Join me in updating your LinkedIn profile to include motherhood. Leverage recruiting platforms such as The Mom Project. Equally important, look for opportunities to mentor the women around you and learn from them.
Let’s build a world where motherhood isn’t something you hide at work, but something to point to as a proof point of capability. Above all, remember that moms have grit. And grit, as we all know, is critical for building a successful business.