Caroline shares organizations and a new movement that can help the working mom.
So...Mother’s Day this year had an unexpectedly rocky start in my house. I think my kids too have had enough and are just worn out by the long pandemic at this point, and sort of “forgot” their usual Mother’s Day breakfast-in-bed or their tradition of presenting their homemade gifts. Haha. I surprised both the kids and myself by expressing my great displeasure, Queen Mother style, and then felt like a horrible mom for feeling upset when I clearly know how much they love and appreciate me.
Mother's Day 2016 with My Mother
To be honest, I think I was just tired and acted out in the safety of my own home and on my loved ones. When will I finally grow up? Ha. I have literally nothing to complain about as a mother, and even had the privilege of working from home all year with two older children who can login to homeschool on their own, a pandemic golden ticket, but I thought I would take this Mother's Day month to note the need to honor and appreciate all mothers during the pandemic. I also want to take the time to share some organizations and companies whose work supports working mothers, with flexibility, real options for career re-entry, and multiple paths to success. It is my hope that with organizations and companies like these in place, we will someday have a whole system of support structure that will help build a future economy that is more sustainable to not just the environment but also human lives. Please read on and let me know what you think!
Women say no thanks to kids?
This podcast episode, A Shrinking Society in Japan, from The Daily, whichfocuseson Japan’s shrinking society due to the low birth rate, was fascinating and sobering (you can find the transcript here). Close to 30 percent of the population in Japan is over 65 and the population has been shrinking since 2007. One major factor affecting the low birthrate in Japan has to do with the way the country has burdened its women with unrelenting demands at work and also at home. Japan’s hostility towards immigration has not helped the situation. Demographic change like this is happening in much of Asia and Europe and it is starting to happen in the US too. Birthing and parenting human lives is a hard, costly proposition, even if many of us mothers find it eminently fulfilling and life-giving. Today, more and more women are saying, “No, thank you.”
No one should be forced to have children for the sake of saving the world economy of course. To encourage more families to want to have and raise children, we will need to provide such families with some combination of financial support, and affordable child care options, and also eliminate the dire career consequences mothers experience for taking time off to take care of children. I love these nonprofits and companies cropping up to provide more options for women and families.
Marshall Plan for Moms
One way to support moms is to pay them to have and care for kids. The term, Marshall Plan for Moms, was coined by Reshma Saujani, founder and former CEO of Girls Who Code. Personally, I am not sure yet about paying every mom for being a mother. But at some point, we can’t expect women to bear the full cost of creating and raising enough human beings to make the world go around, especially when that model seems to be breaking down in modern societies. The idea of the Marshall Plan for Moms has definitely hit a nerve and is building into a movement of sorts. In honor of all mothers this Mother’s Day, New York City Council announced they will introduce new legislation to help support a “Marshall Plan for Moms” Taskforce. You can read more about what the Marshall Plan for Moms is here.
Path Forward & iRelaunch Path Forward is a nonprofit organization that provides midcareer returnship programs to those who take career breaks for caregiving and want to find their way back to work. I love this talk given by Tami Forman, the head of Path Forward, which underscores why the traditional model of an ideal worker no longer works. It’s short, funny, and inspiring. iRelaunch is another company whose returnship programs support women returning to work at the pace that is right for them. It was at iRelaunch’s annual conference eight years ago that I connected with my first coach, Jan Brown, who helped me to relaunch my career as an executive coach.
Bolster Bolster is an on-demand executive talent marketplace, designed to be a platform for CEOs to scale themselves, their executive teams, and their boards. Its co-founder Matt Blumberg, who also founded Path Forward, saw a great opportunity to allow high-level executives to work as “fractal executives." These executives choose to work as much as they want to or need to while allowing companies in various stages of growth to benefit from some fraction of senior leadership’s talent, as they scale in a cost-effective way. I love this idea so much.
Squared Away Squared Away is a remote assistant company started by a military mom who figured out a way to employ and deploy other military spouses to work. After officially launching Squared Away in late 2017, this company now employs 192 virtual chief executive assistants all around the United States and some in other countries as well. This is the company my own executive assistant Malina Coulter works for. Malina’s situation is the perfect example of the need for such an employer. Malina’s husband’s military career required her to move her young family, with two children, something like ten times in the last thirteen years! Traditional employment or even running her own business has not been a realistic option for her, and she loves the career she’s building with Squared Away. See the recent CNBC interview with the CEO Michelle Penczak describing herself being pregnant and unable to find a job a few years ago, while her husband was deployed as, “It’s a bad country song.”
The flexibility of when, where, and how much one can work, plus the multiple points of re-entry and pivots, alternative paths to success, and the incentives and accommodations for working parents, which should include affordable childcare, will be key to creating a forward-thinking society that allows for a healthy, robust, and sustainable work-life combination for mothers and families alike.
In the meantime, this working mom is getting back to the work and the children she LOVES and promises to take good care of herself so she doesn’t turn into a horror show before school is out.
You do the same, whether you are a parent or not. Okay? See you again in June!