Some 23.5 million full-time working women have children under the age of 18 in 2018, accounting for nearly one-third of all women in the workforce.
These women held jobs in a variety of fields, such as education, finance, food services and transportation, but they all probably had one thing in common: the desire for a family-friendly workplace.
While some companies may claim to offer flexible schedules, work-from-home options, or parental leave, that doesn't always turn out to be true.
An individual manager may not follow company guidelines, or so-called "family-friendly" programs may mean parents can have a Friday off, for example, but usually make up those hours on the weekend in order to meet work demands.
So how can a working mom who is looking for a new job determine whether the company she is hoping to work for will truly walk the talk?
Here are some things to consider:
- Do online research. Does the company website state that it supports family-friendly policies? Does it provide any employee testimonials from working moms? Are there women in senior leadership roles who are also working mothers? Check out sites like Glassdoor where employees can post about their work experiences, including whether their employer's environment is family friendly. Remember that even if a company receives accolades about a family-friendly culture in the media, sometimes the reality is different. That's why it's important to check with a variety of sources online to get a complete picture.
- Ask questions. Try to talk to other working mothers at the company to ask about their day-to-day experiences and whether they feel supported by colleagues and upper management. Are there employees working from home or using flexible schedules? Is it an accepted practice that work emails and messaging shouldn't be used during off hours, such as late at night or on weekends? Are perks, such as the ability to opt into a Dependent Care Flex Spending Account (DCFSA), offered? Are accommodations provided for breastfeeding mothers? Further, are all of these options available to employees at every level? Family-friendly policies should be available to everyone, from senior-level executives to entry-level workers.
- Tap your network. Using platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, look for people who are current or former employees of the company. Then ask questions about whether they regard the employer as family friendly. Why or why not? Does the company have a track record of working moms resigning because they failed to get support? Do working moms advance in their careers even if they work from home or have flexible schedules?
- Consider the demographics. If the company is populated mostly by recent graduates or has a culture that revolves around all-night projects and beer pong, it might not be a good fit for a working mom. While some employers may be willing to make accommodations for a working mother, it's best to ask about how — and when — daily work gets done to get a clearer understanding of the environment.
- Are children welcome? Companies that support working moms make it a habit to include children in their culture, whether it's endorsing an internal working-parents networking group or including families in company gatherings. Such companies have managers who easily talk about their own kids, and support flexibility for working moms. Finding a family-friendly workplace that truly supports working mothers requires some homework, but the payoff is worth it. It's important to ask questions, look for policies that will best support your needs, and then determine if it's an employer where you as a working mother will thrive.