“Gender equality in the workplace is key to unlocking significant business growth, and driving positive social and environmental impacts, according to Better Leadership, Better World: Women Leading for the Global Goals”
– World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
It has been recognised by Harvard Business Review that increasing senior women in the workforce supports innovation and sustainability. In another Harvard Business School article it suggests, if you can’t find a spouse that supports your career, stay single!
It sounds a bit drastic although in reality many busy and ambitious people do this all the time. Men and women. The only thing is what if you do want children? Men rarely can have children without a partner and how do women fit becoming a mum in to life if they are busy or just can’t take 6 months out of work to parent? Men can wait longer but what can women do? And what can workplace policy do to support here?
We think it’s an under discussed topic and in the long run greater knowledge and adoption of more evolved policies can support increasing women in leadership, and help businesses to thrive as more women are able to stay in senior positions.
Here a few examples of leading ladies, some famous ones, that chose the non-traditional route to work and motherhood or to be child free:
- My neuroscientist friend’s husband is a stay at home Dad/business owner while she works full time outside of the home. One option. She did however have to unfortunately go back to work after only 12 weeks after the birth of her son. US based.
- A senior Legal Counsel lady in aviation said she needed a nanny, nursery and the support of her husband who had his own business and even moved jobs and country to gain a more favourable maternity package. Another option.
- Another friend – she looks after her kids one day per week, her husband looks after their kids one day per week and they pay for 3 days childcare, both share the weekend
- A solo parent friend of mine had the help of her retired mother and nursery and went back to her senior role within 4 months
- A recent read showed Kim Cattrall at 41 decided not to have children to concentrate on her career and busy filming schedule although she was in a relationship. The term child free is now being used rather than childless.
- Egg freezing is discussed in this Kathy Burke (UK comedian) documentary All women and has been said to reduce ticking-clock anxiety or hasty mis-partnering. The age bracket for being eligible for egg freezing and IVF can be up to 40/41 in some countries and they can be stored for 10 years. Could workplaces offer loans or support for this option?
- Italian Vogue’s Chief Editor discusses her choice to not live with the father of her child in this documentary about her work and life. A tough decision she said.
- Fearne McCann created a show called First Time Mother and talks of solo parenting and providing for her little girl through her own earnings
- Mum-spiration: a partner of ours is working, taking calls and presenting while being with her new born baby and even feeding off camera. It’s very admirable and possible now with video calling as not everything needs to be in person
- Naomi Campbell choose to be a mother at age 50 but if you are over 35 you are discussed as disadvantaged.
- Many examples of women solo parenting with donors are being discussed in friendship circles and online now and it is becoming much more well known. A community/neighbour/family based childcare system or all of these options can help solo parenting be possible. Again some workplaces offer creche or childcare support.
- Female gay couples can choose a donor and male gay couples have been known to ask a surrogate or adopt which is happening in the UK, America, Norway and other countries globally.
- Others choosing work from home roles to manage childcare, working around their children being awake and school pick up, which will be a lot more possible now it’s more common place to have a work from home or hybrid policy
There are many new family structures now and many ways to parent.
Of course whether you have money for child care and a good support network is very important and key to women being able to stay in senior positions and have a family.
Companies such as Bumble, who’s CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd, made new HR policies in 2021. Bumble saying they ‘give all of their employees a minimum of six months’ paid leave for the birth, adoption or surrogacy of a child… Victims of domestic violence or other violent crimes will also be able to take at least 20 days of paid leave. Following a miscarriage, employees will be allowed a minimum of 15 days’ paid compassionate leave‘. It is great leadership and will hopefully be replicated by other companies in the following years. Countries like Sweden being a leader on giving equal maternity and paternity leave by law.
It is not a simple topic. The work/life balance of a parent has always been a point for discussion but as diversity, equity, inclusion and equal pay topics evolve, then so does how we parent and especially for working women.
Does your company support parenting proactively? Do you feel able to keep your role and even progress while having time off for parental leave? At FGA we support our colleagues, freelancers and partners that are parents to maintain flexible, remote working schedules while looking after their kids. And we support those not returning to work to keep intellectually active while being at home with their children. Contact us if you would like to discuss our work further and watch Cinderella 2021 or the Bodyform ad ”Womb Stories”