When you come back to work after maternity leave (or are a mom starting a new job), there are certain things you need your manager to know. The following six points are extremely important for all managers of working moms to know.
1. You are 100 percent committed to your job but need flexibility
Working moms care deeply about their careers and their jobs. Being a mom doesn’t diminish that, but it changes how some things play out during the workday. For one, you need flexibility in your job, no matter how committed you are. Many moms hold the primary responsibility for every part of their children’s lives. That means being literally responsible for keeping another soul alive. And that requires flexibility.
Accidents happen, some appointments are only available during traditional working hours, and the events that you need to be a part of will happen during work hours. Good managers recognize this and support working moms so they can thrive as moms and as employees.\
2. You still want to grow your career
Career growth is important for everyone, including working moms. But not all managers know this. So, just to be clear, yes, moms want to grow in their careers! Now, that doesn’t mean you can always fit in professional development, especially when it’s outside of childcare hours. But again, flexibility can help working moms continue to learn and grow professionally. And for some moms, professional challenges are life savers. They remind us that we’re still strong, smart, and capable, and love new opportunities.
3. Your experience is different from a working dad
This ties in well with the previous point. Traditionally, being a working dad hasn’t impacted professional development. It hasn’t impacted other aspects of their work life, either. So, managers can’t presume that the experience of working moms is the same as working dads—it just isn’t the case. This presumption always leads to problems, problems that moms are expected to solve on their own.
As things improve, more managers will know that each working parent’s experience is a little different. Supporting this unique experience creates an overall and individual better working environment. However, even as we move towards a post-pandemic world, it’s clear that most working moms are still carrying the burden of childcare and domestic duties. And so. working moms do not have the same experience as working dads.
4. You appreciate open communication and constructive feedback
Becoming a mom doesn’t change your intelligence or ability to learn and grow (in fact, many will say the opposite—that it makes them much better employees.) Things you don’t need include vague statements or too-subtle suggestions. Having a manager who communicates clearly and continues to provide constructive feedback is essential. This also goes back to the point about career growth. When managers remember that working moms are also professionals with careers, they can facilitate career growth.
5. Equality matters
The gender wage gap is still a painful reality. Knowing you get paid less than a man in a similar role at work is consistently frustrating and demoralizing. So, working moms need their managers to know that equality matters, and that they highly value workplaces that have eliminated gender bias in compensation, assignments, and evaluations.
Remember that equality also includes equal opportunities for things like informal networking and mentoring. If these activities take place outside of working hours, it’s important to consider how to support each mom’s commitments to her family.
6. It’s hard to ask for help
In some workplaces, there are still stigmas and misconceptions about working moms. That can make it hard to ask for help. Couple that with the biases/insecurities we bring with us about being working moms, and it’s even harder. Managers can help by creating safe spaces to talk about things where others aren’t listening in, and by asking working moms what they need (and then taking action to meet those needs).
A final note
Our world needs working moms, and working moms need their careers. The above six things are not an exhaustive list of what working moms need their managers to know. But hopefully they’re enough to start the process of communicating, understanding, and creating great results in the workplace.
Gladys Simen is a life coach for moms trying to balance their work and family lives. She is a life enthusiast who has lived in five different countries, mastered two languages, and changed several professions. It took becoming a fabulous mama for her to tap into some big superpowers within herself. Formerly a quiet introvert, Gladys is now passionate about helping women live big, beautiful, shooting-for-the-stars kind of lives. Gladys considers herself an advocate for the working mama, and you can connect with her via her LinkedIn. You can also visit her blog to read her thoughts on parenting life as a working mother or schedule a free curiosity call to create or reinforce an existing plan for managing your life as a working mother.
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