A virtual event focused on reinventing motherhood and work is set for May 10.
Mother’s Day is a time to honor and celebrate moms for all they do, but it’s also important to support them, especially working moms. That’s the idea behind Mother’s Monday.
“It’s reinventing motherhood and work, and what that means is changing culture in corporate America so that moms can thrive,” founder Gayatri Agnew says.
Agnew launched the movement in 2020, a year in which mothers faced several challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of these stressors, 1 in 4 women are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce, according to the 2020 Women in the Workplace study. McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org co-authored the report.
“We’re kind of in a crisis right now when it comes to women in the workplace,” says Sonia Spinks, co-lead of Walmart Career Moms. “COVID has amplified so many chinks in our armor along the way of what it means to be a woman and especially a mother or caregiver.”
Women, particularly moms, are taking on a heavier load at home. Mothers are 1.5 times more likely than fathers to be spending an extra three or more hours a day on housework or childcare, according to the report. That’s the equivalent of 20 hours a week or half of a full-time job.
Latina and Black mothers are also shouldering heavier burdens than white mothers. Latinas are 1.6 times more likely than white mothers to be responsible for all childcare and housework, while Black mothers are twice as likely to be handling these duties.
“We need leaders to recognize and reflect on the fact that corporate America was built for men with stay-at-home wives and it still functions that way,” Agnew says. “And so reinventing it means just stepping back and being like well, why do we do it that way? Do we have to do it that way?”
Much of corporate America has conducted business remotely for the past year, but when employees return to the office, there are steps that can be taken to make the buildings more family-friendly, Agnew says. For example, offices can create safe and clean places where mothers can pump, and designate parking spots for expectant mothers. Employers can also install changing tables in both the women’s and men’s restrooms.
Companies can provide parental leave for both parents and encourage fathers to take that time off. Training can also be provided for managers of parents.
“Coming back from maternity leave is a complicated emotional thing for mom, but it can also be a complicated emotional thing for mom’s boss, and we have to acknowledge that, especially if he is a man and he doesn’t have kids,” Agnew says.
While there are ways to physically alter the workplace as part of this reinvention, there are shifts in thinking to address as well. For example, a supervisor may decide not to send a mother on a work trip because they assume she’ll want to stay home with her children. The better approach, Agnew says, is to not make that assumption and instead, have a conversation with her. Some mothers may want to stay home, while others may have access to childcare and want to take the meeting.
This shift in thinking requires addressing existing bias, asking questions and having discussions about these topics. There are few women leaders in corporate America — and even fewer who are mothers — so issues impacting working moms are not talked about, Agnew says.
Conversations about how to support mothers in the workplace will be the focus of a virtual event hosted by the Network of Executive Women May 10 in honor of Mother’s Monday. The event will begin with an overview of the Women in the Workplace study, followed by a panel discussion featuring speakers who are active in their companies’ parents groups including Sonia Spinks, co-lead of Walmart Career Moms, a group whose mission is to support, connect and retain mothers in the workplace. Spinks says she wants to have an authentic conversation about what it’s like to be a career mom.
“I definitely want to encourage the things that we can do as individuals, and then also just bring awareness to how important it is for companies to really help develop the resources like the Walmart Career Moms group that are either available or that can be created so that we can accelerate that and organically help it to grow,” she says.
The virtual event will wrap up with a session facilitated by The Holding Co. who has helped curate spotlights on ideas and products that are bringing to life this reinvention of motherhood and work, Agnew says.
“The biggest message we hope folks take from Monday is that anyone is capable of affecting change in this space,” Agnew says. “It’s not just policymakers in D.C. It’s not just corporate executives. It’s every single one of us because we all work and/or interact with parents who work.”
The Mother’s Monday virtual event begins at 10 a.m. May 10. Registration and more information about the movement is available at MothersMonday.com.