Does the American Culture Really Support Working Moms?
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;
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ERIN BOUTHIETTE
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!