WiLab Post: Does the American Culture Really Support Working Moms?

DOES THE AMERICAN CULTURE REALLY SUPPORT WORKING MOMS?

Photo from blog.spaoa.org

In the recent article written by Emily Peck, Congratulations America, You Support Working Moms! Just Not With Actual Policies, we are reminded just how far behind our American culture is on policies that help not only working moms, but working families. The research shows that as Americans, we deserve a sarcastic pat on the back for the baby steps we have finally taken in the majority support we have for working mothers;

After decades of judging and shaming mothers for “abandoning” their kids while they went off to work to commit the horrible and selfish act of providing for their families, Americans are now overwhelmingly OK with working mothers, according to a paper published in the latest edition of Psychology of Women quarterly.

The Family Medical Leave Act was signed in 1993 offering women job security without pay. There have been no advancements offering families more security or paid leave since then. The grim reality is that the majority of businesses don’t believe a paid leave policy is important to running a business, retaining employees or providing them with a benefit that will yield a return on investment;

One of the big objections to paid leave traditionally comes from businesses, which tend to argue that offering workers paid leave increases costs. But a mounting pile of evidence doesn’t support that theory. Nearly 90 percent of California businesses reported no cost increases due to the state’s now 10-year-old leave law, according to one survey. In fact, 43 percent of businesses in the state reported a cost savings, because they were able to hold on to more workers, (decreasing training costs), and reduce spending on benefits.

Other companies, like Google, have also increased employee retention by increasing paid leave.

Oh, and paid leave saves the government money and disproportionately helps lower-income women. In New Jersey, women who took paid leave were around 40 percent less likely to receive public benefits like food stamps or welfare, according to a Rutgers study cited by Claire Cain Miller in The New York Times.

The statistics have been beaten into the ground. America offers ZERO days compared to the rest of the world and is on a level playing field with Lesotho, Swaziland and Papua New Guinea when it comes to not mandating paid maternity leave. The facts are staggering and actually, quite unbelievable.

Women become defined in business by their pregnancy. Unable to change the minds of others, we are left with a minimal (required) UNPAID leave. Our far reaching goal should continue and persist in the change of these weak and insufficient policies for working families. We need to actively speak out and bring this topic to the forefront of peoples minds. It needs to be on the agenda for the upcoming presidential election.

But the reality is, how do we prepare ourselves for the inevitable lack of support when we become mothers? If you are planning on growing your family, having a baby for the first time, adopting a baby, taking maternity/paternity/family leave etc…RIGHT NOW,  here are 3 quick tips on how to prepare yourself for the inevitable lack of support:

1. Understand your rights. Is your company a small organization? Does FMLA apply to them? FMLA protects workers of organizations over 50 employees. What are the actual policies in your organization? Talk to your HR.

2. Does your company offer short-term disability? This is a great work around if no paid leave is offered. It will provide you with 6-8 weeks of partial paid leave. Do you need to sign up before you are pregnant?

3. Savings. You have 9 months. Make a weekly contribution to save up 2-3 months of mortgage/rent payments so you can be at ease if you are offered nothing. Being a new mom is stressful enough, take the time to cut back and budget so you can be (somewhat) worry free about finances (easier said than done, I know…)

In the meantime,

Here are some thoughtful articles on how our current and future leaders view this issue;

Every Republican Running for President Votes Against Paid Family Leave

White House Makes Big Push for Paid Family Leave

Why Hillary Clinton Made Gender Such a Big Deal in Her Major Economic Speech

Voters Want Paid Leave, Paid Sick Days, Polls Show…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ERIN BOUTHIETTE

3bd0ADQMqWRSdD6ePl3jIPZXFZ7ePuUgwknQ0bvQMRryvzZm6WlCSsav8fYA7woq9-2BfgT1MOL8NKv2Lo8ERV07_T-dfUu0s5H3SF5pPFOqkh-YDHoEe_K5MufPXU1jLcm_uignSYQ83OXTtmMCfCfOkMRVImxx-VwpXzvucvnm9bGSu_03ern3lBbM4Pw4wA7WvO8iaWANV6bFEzXkBwrDnk_W7NMz

I am a lover of nature and everything Boston! As a career driven mama, I am always looking to find ways to balance motherhood with professionalism without losing touch with my fun side. A true believer in “keeping it real”, I spend my free time snowboarding, kayaking and love to run on the daily. I am a mother of a 4 year old (with another on the baby on the way!) and have been with my husband (also a lover of mountains) for 15 years.

Professionally, I have been in the staffing industry for 12 years and currently serve as a Chief Operating Officer for an IT consulting firm, Relational IT. I uncovered my secret “geek” and passion for the sciences and information technology through helping people find new careers and have been instrumental in developing and cultivating business opportunities in the greater Boston area for my organization.

I Co-Founded Blissfulmamas,a project created in order to shed some light on the positive aspects of being a working mama. Blissfulmamas is a networking community for working mamas with a positive outlook, looking to collaborate with each other on career advancements, job opportunities, managing and organizing family life, without forgetting about the long overdue personal “me” time. Our goal is to act as a positive outreach for working mamas and be a place where working mamas can collaborate, find resources & inspiration all available on the go!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

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The Reality of Maternity Leave (Or Lack Thereof) via WiLab

THE REALITY OF MATERNITY LEAVE (OR LACK THEREOF)

Source: huffingtonpost.com

I cannot believe I am here again. I am currently expecting my 2nd child. After the birth of my first child, the main reason why I left my well-paying job in Boston with excellent benefits was to have more flexibility with my schedule. As a mother I needed to be there for my child. Another major component of my job change was to avoid the glass ceiling; just because I became a mother doesn’t mean that I all of a sudden don’t care about my career advancements. I have had the amazing opportunity to build a company from the ground up these past four years, but I find myself questioning why do we have no paid maternity leave policy! We are a small business. We have no short term disability. The new MA law for Paid Sick Leave does not apply to our organization, because we are too small. FMLA does not apply to us, because we do not have enough employees. A company of our size is only required to hold my job for 6 weeks vaginal birth and 8 weeks cesarean. That means, if I do not put my child in daycare at 6-8 weeks old, I can potentially lose my job. This practice, unfortunately, is the norm. I have nothing bad to say about my organization. One of the main reasons why I left my old job to start this company was to accommodate my new growing family and the flexibility that we needed in addition to growing my own career and personal experiences. This is a company that I have built, something that I have poured my blood, sweat, and tears into. It is just a major wake up call about how in business, you need to put every scenario on the line day 1, or you put yourself at risk. I have faith that my organization will try to accommodate my needs, but the reality is that they don’t have to.

…I propose the following question: 

What is the issue with providing paid maternity/paternity leave to families? 

The standard rebuttal: Who will pay for it?

It is hard not to feel like another pregnant woman inconveniencing today’s workforce. The general consensus (through the lack of legislation) is that our needs don’t matter, our families don’t matter, and our voices are silenced. There is a balancing act that is inherent to your future success within an organization: taking the policy they offer with a smile on your face and show up to work with no personal issues. Perhaps you are feeling under valued as a resource simply because you are a mother.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not advocating for laziness in the workplace or a consistent interruption of personal family matters, but the reality is that we are dual working families. Our families are important to us. Our jobs are important to us. Why are we not considered important enough to have the support that we need and deserve?

Potential mothers out there, I bid you fair warning. If you are planning to start a family some day, find a company that will respect your specific needs for paid time off, paid maternity leave, flexible schedules, and a solid low-cost healthcare program. Companies that do not offer these benefits don’t deserve you.

Policies of organizations big and small vary, so its important to be mindful when reviewing a maternity leave policy when entering a new job. The global company, Vodafone,seems to get it. They even offer their new benefits to US women (even though they are not required to). In a recent article on CNN, Vodafone states that it will offer at least 16 weeks maternity leave on full pay to all new mothers. And when they return to work, they’ll be able to work slightly reduced hours on full pay for the first six months. Vodafone’s CEO Vittorio Colao said in a statement;

Too many talented women leave working life because they face a difficult choice between either caring for a newborn baby or maintaining their careers

In typical business terms, prove it in the numbers. 

A report by KPMG, commissioned by Vodafone, found that global businesses could save up to $19 billion per year if they adopted Vodafone’s policy.

KPMG said companies spend roughly $47 billion every year recruiting and training new employees to replace women who leave the workforce after giving birth.

Offering 16 weeks paid maternity leave would cost only $28 billion a year, the report said.

Now what?

With the U.S. is being the only developed country with no guaranteed paid leave for new moms, according to the OECD, we are not left with much hope. Each baby brings up new emotions for the working mother force. It is time for change, and hopefully in our lifetime we will see more advocates for this cause.

My advice?

Find a culture that holds the same values as you do. Is your company building that culture or are they stuck abiding by the culture of the “norm”? Hopefully in our children’s lifetime, we will encourage enough change to embrace a culture that offers paid leave, alleviating worry and stress about lack of financial stability. Until then, we will long for a culture that respects working women, mothers, the future of our children, and their need for their parents during the first few weeks of their lives.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ERIN BOUTHIETTE

3bd0ADQMqWRSdD6ePl3jIPZXFZ7ePuUgwknQ0bvQMRryvzZm6WlCSsav8fYA7woq9-2BfgT1MOL8NKv2Lo8ERV07_T-dfUu0s5H3SF5pPFOqkh-YDHoEe_K5MufPXU1jLcm_uignSYQ83OXTtmMCfCfOkMRVImxx-VwpXzvucvnm9bGSu_03ern3lBbM4Pw4wA7WvO8iaWANV6bFEzXkBwrDnk_W7NMz

I am a lover of nature and everything Boston! As a career driven mama, I am always looking to find ways to balance motherhood with professionalism without losing touch with my fun side. A true believer in “keeping it real”, I spend my free time snowboarding, kayaking and love to run on the daily. I am a mother of a 4 year old (with another on the baby on the way!) and have been with my husband (also a lover of mountains) for 15 years.

Professionally, I have been in the staffing industry for 12 years and currently serve as a Chief Operating Officer for an IT consulting firm, Relational IT. I uncovered my secret “geek” and passion for the sciences and information technology through helping people find new careers and have been instrumental in developing and cultivating business opportunities in the greater Boston area for my organization.

I Co-Founded Blissfulmamas,a project created in order to shed some light on the positive aspects of being a working mama. Blissfulmamas is a networking community for working mamas with a positive outlook, looking to collaborate with each other on career advancements, job opportunities, managing and organizing family life, without forgetting about the long overdue personal “me” time. Our goal is to act as a positive outreach for working mamas and be a place where working mamas can collaborate, find resources & inspiration all available on the go!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Vanessa Lachey: ‘When You’re a Mom, You’re a Superhero’

We agree Vanessa! Moms are superheroes!

Celebrity Babies and Kids - Moms & Babies - People.com

Life is sweeter with two kids — and popsicles!

Vanessa Lachey wears several hats as a mother of two little ones, son Camden John, 2½, and daughter Brooklyn Elisabeth, 5 months. Now, the 34-year-old supermom is joining forces with Popsicle to launch the brand’s first-ever official comic book and new Avengers popsicle — a perfect fit for Lachey, whose son calls himself “Camden America.”

In fact, Camden and Scott Foley‘s son, Keller, have become quite the dynamic duo.

“[Keller] wears capes every day to school — it’s the cutest thing — and Camden became obsessed with it so then they became the duo. Super Camden and Super Keller. It’s fun,” Lachey tells PEOPLE.

“It’s fun to watch little boys let their imagination run wild and for me as a mom it’s great to see him evolve to this little person.”

Vanessa Lachey popsicle avengers

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WiLab Post: Finding Opportunity in the Turning Point

Please check out the release of this story on WiLab!

FINDING OPPORTUNITY IN THE TURNING POINT

I recently had a fantastic opportunity to speak to a group of young women at Hult International Business School in Boston, MA for the “Women in Business Series: Walk in Her Heels” hosted by the Women in Business Club.

Hult

I discussed my background and my perspective on how it took me time to realize that the work I am doing today is in conjunction with my original goals as a fresh grad. 12 years in business has afforded me an understanding that fulfillment is much more complicated and you should not expect to gain a fulfilled life from your job alone. We are complex human beings. Take an honest look at yourself, your goals and aspirations to build the right opportunities for yourself. In addition, timing is not everything. Everyone talks about “having it all” which seems absolutely impossible when you are attempting this feat. It is also unfair to put that type of pressure on yourself. I am a successful business woman, wife, mother of a 4 yr. old with another baby on the way. Being everything to everyone has its ups and downs.

It was important to me to discuss a topic that I find interesting and something that has helped me in my own career which has been “Finding Opportunity in the Turning Point” When faced with a challenge or turning point in your life on the cusp of change. How can you make the best move, create the best opportunity and successfully position yourself to achieve your goals?

Recognizing the Turning Point, The Need for Change?

When you realize its time to take on a new challenge; graduating from college, changing jobs, career paths, or a major life event,  it is important to recognize the turning point and prepare yourself for a change. I am a list maker by nature and planning the next opportunity takes time to map out. Preparing to dive in takes practice, but when do you dive in the deep end and take a risk? I suggest to start by aligning your personal goals with professional goals. Does your next move incorporate your overall aspirations and mission? If your job path does not, that’s OK. We can’t all make our favorite hobby a job and sometimes reality sinks in. I often find balance between my career and interests by tying in extracurricular activities. Be dynamic.

Diving in the Deep End, Preparing for Change & Diving in

One of my most embarrassing moments was at a 6 grade party. I stood on the diving board (a chubby 10 year old girl), my crush was swimming in the pool, and for some odd reason I decided to announce that I was not only going to dive in, I would up my game and do a back flip. I proceeded to do a back flop in front of my entire class. It was at that moment I decided not to give a f**k and laugh with others (who were laughing at me) and not take everything so seriously. I use this analogy now 20 years later. You are inevitability going to dive in and potentially fail, big time. But that is the first step. Understanding your strengths, disposition and capabilities will help maximize your potential for success. Create a portfolio of your greatest strengths, where do you excel? Figure out what angle you are making the decision from, what is important to you, right now? When seeking a new opportunity, explore all options.

When you dive in the deep end to seek change in your career, do your research and know your audience. This will help you position yourself appropriately to communicate effectively with your audience. If you promote yourself to change, you will create new opportunities. Get out there!

Marketing Yourself, Tools for Engaging in Change

Some quick tips for marketing yourself; preparing your qualifications to engage in change, ask yourself; how are you presenting yourself to the world? Be your own advocate, find advocates. Who do you know that can introduce you to a new career, potential employer, advocate for change? Get comfortable with networking and the only way to do this is to practice.

Taking Chances, When to Take Risks?

It is important to consider timing when taking chances with your career. It might make sense to take a risk at this point in your life, for others stability might be at the top of the list. Ask yourself, can you really live with this decision every day? Do a walk through of your daily activities and make sure you are happy with your decision. How do you connect with the team, the mission?

Finding fulfillment is much more dynamic than landing a job. It is a combination of many things. Finding opportunity at the turning point is lead by your passion, understanding and disposition for the need for change. Capture your interests in both your job and through extra curricular projects to keep a sharp edge on your resume and credential building exercises. At the end of the day, its only a job and true happiness, fulfillment and change is initiated from within.