During the month of May, Kiln took time to celebrate and recognize the working women in our community. 

On May 20th, we welcomed panelists to share their experiences, best practices, and novel ideas for increasing diversity in recruitment and hiring, with a special focus on strategies that cater to working moms. Kiln CEO, Arian Lewis moderated the event, “Ways to Cultivate DE&I that You Can Start Today” which featured Olivia Gochnour (Head of People Ops for Tiled), Kera Thompson (Co-Founder of Interwoven), Rachel Nilsson (Founder of Rags to Raches), and Stephanie Yu (Senior Revenue Recruiter for Divvy). 

You can watch the recorded event here, or read on for our notes and major takeaways.

The panel focused on tangible changes that companies (small and large) can make as they recruit, hire, support, and employ working moms. Topics of conversation included making changes to job descriptions, Covid-19 related changes to work-life balance, the future for working mothers, expanding parental leave, and reforming childcare policies. 

Each of the women spoke within a framework that acknowledged, but didn’t dwell on, the duality of their roles. Kera Thompson said, “you don’t have to justify or even distinguish yourself as both a mother and a worker.” 

Recruitment and Hiring: 

Companies need to change their job descriptions when recruiting in order to optimize diversity in the workplace. Here’s how: 

  1. When changing job descriptions, speak to the flexibility that the position can offer a working mother. Which responsibilities can be completed asynchronously? 
  2. Be value-forward and emphasize balance. Nobody wants to work someplace that doesn’t consider their needs. 
  3. Utilize resources to help you build a culture of belonging. Try textio.com to bring the world’s “most advanced language insights into your hiring and employer brand content, every time you write.”

Covid-19 as an Impetus for Change: 

The Covid-19 pandemic impacted working women in a myriad of ways.

  1. Covid-19 caused a massive departure of women from the workforce. Many women left their positions to accommodate home life and family responsibilities resulting from the closure of schools and childcare facilities. 
  2. For other working moms, Covid-19 created a more level playing field. The virtual and hybrid format created (perhaps for the first time) scheduling that was flexible enough for both parenting and working responsibilities. For these moms, returning to a 9-5 job may not be efficient or effective. 
  3. This past year has done a lot to connect us. Even though we’ve each experienced the effects of Covid-19 on our own, we are tied collectively to each other through this time. We have no other choice but to hold space for each other. What a shame it would be if we don’t embrace this opportunity for continued growth as we establish new norms. 

The Future for Working Moms:

  1. Flexible working schedules, shared office spaces, and hybrid jobs will provide much needed flexibility for parents. Read more of our thoughts about the future of work here. 
  2. Historically, we are accustomed to seeing two kinds of job descriptions: part time and full time. These structures will change to become project-based jobs, which may benefit working moms specifically. 
  3. Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve all witnessed a change in virtual call etiquette. Your colleagues and bosses are now accustomed to seeing aspects of  home life appear on screen. You’ve seen kids interact with their moms during meetings, and your child has likely interacted with you. The world is ready for more empathy. 
  4. There is an antiquated idea for women to have a career that they must adopt this harsh, get-it-done persona to be taken seriously. This has changed. Women are bringing authentic versions of themselves to their work.

I’m an Employer. What can I do?

Here are some tangible changes you can easily make. These are things you may not have thought of yourself, told by working moms in Kiln’s network.

  1. If you have employees with elementary-school aged kids, don’t schedule meetings for your team during drop-off and pickup times.
  2. Embrace your empathetic leadership role. Ask your employees about their needs. 
  3. Try to establish private space in your office where mothers can nurse or focus on their wellness. Level up with on-site childcare. 
  4. Figure out how to improve your company’s maternity and paternity leave policies. Make sure your employees can share the early moments with their babies. Even if there’s a lack of redundancy in the role that the parent occupies, get creative to make sure that they can take relaxed time away from the office. Try pairing employees prior to maternity leave so that teams can complete tasks in tandem. 
  5. Build a company culture where other employees want a positive maternity leave/parenting experience for their colleagues. If you get the culture right, your team will step up to fill gaps and holes in workflow. 

What Needs Further Change?

The US must take several steps to reduce the emotional, physical, and financial cost and burden of finding childcare options. This will take legal reform. As an employer, you can help mitigate this challenge in the interim.

  1.  Stop asking women the question, “How are you balancing everything?” Men never get this question. This question is asked because we are taught the underlying expectation that because you’re a working mom that you are also therefore running your household and scheduling childcare. 
  2. As an employer, create job perks that directly benefit working moms. These can be unconventional. Examples include providing an Instacart membership for grocery delivery, signing up kids of employees for activity package subscriptions, and prioritizing the mental health, wellness, and physical health of your employees.  
  3. Eliminate the stigma that you may have surrounding parents who hire caregivers to support their children. It truly takes a village.

Thanks to our wonderful panelists for sharing their insights. 

Kiln continued our celebration of Mother’s May with a Working Moms Meetup at Kiln Lehi lead by Sarah Wilson of Chip Cookies and Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked, Inc. who shared their personal stories balancing careers and motherhood. 

We’re lucky to have a community of tight-knit working moms who are willing to vulnerably share their experiences. Cheers to you!