Since the onset of the pandemic, it is estimated that one in three women has considered downshifting their career or dropping out of the workforce entirely. There is no doubt that the country will be reeling from this trend for years to come.
The valuable perspectives that women bring to the workplace have proven to increase both the innovation and the profitability of companies. In order for leaders to retain their female talent, there needs to be greater acknowledgment of the unique challenges women face.
Growing up, I always knew two things: I wanted to be a mother, and I wanted to make an impact professionally. During the first eight years of my career, the motherhood piece of my dream was put on the back burner, and I was able to focus on my professional development. This changed when I had my first daughter, and the issue of not having enough time was exacerbated with the birth of my second. Thankfully, I have a very supportive husband and family, and I work for a firm that believes family should always come first.
However, even with a great support system, there is still the natural guilt and sadness that come from working full time and not being present to experience some of your child’s milestones. There is self-imposed pressure for all working mothers to work like they do not have children and parent like they do not have a job, which is impossible. This can leave mothers feeling like they are always falling short in some aspect of their lives. While the issue may never be solved, there are a few key steps employers can take to empower more women to stay in the workplace.
First, flexibility and understanding need to be threaded into the fibers of an organization. Every individual is struggling with something, whether they show it outwardly or not. Company leaders need to ensure that every situation is approached with compassion and kindness.
One of the cornerstones of Ancora’s culture is that we are a family that supports one another through the ups and downs of life. This is so meaningful for working mothers trying to juggle it all, and an approach that every company should consider employing.
Second, workplaces need to recognize and rectify the gender pay gap. In order for households to prioritize the mother’s career, the playing field must be level. No one should have to fight for this equality; it needs to be built into the culture of the organization.
Lastly, women need to support women. As females rise in an organization, bringing their peers with them and encouraging their success and promotion are powerful actions. In order to do this, we must prioritize relationship building and continue to cultivate those connections. Multiple studies have shown that women who support women are more successful in business. Celebrating other women’s successes will not minimize your own achievements, but it will create more opportunity for others.
There is no doubt that the United States has made tremendous strides over the past 50 years to provide a professional environment where women can thrive. I know we will continue that momentum, and I look forward to the world my daughters will grow up in.
My question for all leaders is, what part will your organization play in achieving this goal? ●
Brittney Garrett is Chief Financial Officer at Ancora