Imagine an employee who is hyper organized. Totally committed. A born mentor. Masterful with time management. Off the charts productive. Able to juggle half a dozen responsibilities at once without letting anything fall through the cracks. Someone who can respond adeptly and creatively to the unexpected and is always willing to work after hours to get the job done.
If a dream employee like that walked into your office, you’d snap them up right away before someone else did, right? Wrong. In fact, more often than not, such dream employees are passed by.
Because such employees are also known as moms. And while the above is a description of the strengths of professional moms as defined by real world business executives, there is still a permeating belief in our professional world that when a woman becomes a mom she is a hiring risk. That somehow, despite her strengths, her education and her track record of professional accomplishments before becoming a mother, she is now somehow less qualified.
This bias, along with the fact child care in most states is more expensive than public university, and 87% of Americans have no access to paid leave, have contributed to the sad fact that 43% of highly qualified women leave the workplace after having children.
Knowing that women are a quantified competitive business advantage, this scenario is as much of a negative for companies as it is for women.
Enter The Mom Project. A digital marketplace and community that is connecting world-class companies with educated, professionally accomplished moms and creating opportunities that benefit both.
For companies, The Mom Project provides a myriad of business solutions. Using matching science to connect employers with a diverse community of over 10,000 professionals, the brand supports work placement ranging from clearly scoped projects to permanent roles. Each position is developed directly with companies to create a precise match for individual experience and skill sets. In a further stroke of innovation, the company has become known for its Maternityship™ program, a service through which companies can fill the temporary gap created when an employee goes on parental leave with an experienced professional who has a complementary background.
For moms, The Mom Project reframes the landscape of professional opportunities available to them and allows them to structure their professional lives in ways that support personal goals and meet their need for flexibility. For far too long, women have faced a harsh ultimatum in the wake of having children: Be a stay at home mom or have a career. The cradle or the corporate ladder. Take your pick.
When Allison Robinson, founder and CEO of The Mom Project, faced this fork in the career path, her choice was not to choose. And rather than getting discouraged by the limiting options, she got inspired. “I realized that if we could make work more compatible with life, we could keep great talent in the workplace.”
And keep talent in the workplace she did. Ana Villa, Director of Finance at Propeller Airports, a company that develops and manages general aviation and commercial service airports in many key U.S. markets, credits The Mom Project for placing her in a position she never would have thought of for herself. “While I had always been in finance, my experience was in the tech world. But The Mom Project looked at my full skill set and put me in an even bigger box than I realized I was capable of. I wouldn’t have considered myself for a position in aviation.”
Not only was The Mom Project able to open up a new market, it ensured the job itself was one with growth opportunity that would allow Villa’s full skill set to be utilized. “Many of the jobs I was finding online were very limiting for what I had to offer,” she explains. “I didn’t want to simply handle book keeping, I am capable of building financial models and directing strategy.” Which is now exactly what she is doing.
“Being a new mom took away a lot of my confidence in the professional arena,” Villa shared. “And The Mom Project helped me bring that back by positioning me as a professional catch that companies would be lucky to find.”
As it turns out, this emotional component of building confidence has been huge for moms across the board. Beth Arnott, member of The Mom Project and H.R. business partner at Topco, the largest food buying cooperative in the U.S., talks of a similar struggle as a new mom returning to work. “I have always been a hard worker and top producer, and I felt ashamed for needing flexibility in my schedule,” she remembers. “The Mom Project brought that conversation right out in the open with employers while still shining a light my abilities and positioning me as a strong candidate for the job.”
The inclination to shy away from asking for flexibility is understandable. Let’s face it, traditionally, our corporate culture has supported face time and long hours onsite. But the tide is turning. And the desire for a more flexible workforce is growing in the business world. Which makes The Mom Project a win-win for everyone.
If a mother, or a father for that matter, has to leave the office a little earlier, that does not mean his or her workday is done. Ask any working mother and she will tell you that after the family is fed, homework completed and kids are down, that’s when her second shift begins.
“My company judges on work performance rather than where or how moms get the job done,” explains Jane Curran, Director for Recruiting at JLL, a financial and professional services firm specializing in real estate. Curran has hired multiple Mom Project members for various assignments, and she continues to come back because the moms continue to deliver.
“We, as a company, believe the diversity of our workforce gives us a competitive advantage, so I was instantly drawn to the business model The Mom Project has created,” Curran says. “Moms are talented, competent and hardworking professionals. Having kids doesn’t change that.”
In news that bodes well for the future of business, Curran’s company is not alone in this more modern mindset. “We have found an unprecedented willingness from employers to create female-friendly workplaces,” Robinson says.
An important factor in this progress has been the ability of The Mom Project to create gender-neutral buy in and bring men into the conversation. “We can’t solve the problem when women are living in a silo. We all have to sit down at the table together,” says Robinson.
And it’s a conversation worth having. Because keeping mothers in the workplace is a good financial decision for both companies and families. “Financially speaking, hiring moms is, without a doubt, a good business decision,” says Villa. “If there is one thing moms don’t have to waste, it’s time. For every hour you pay a mom, I would bet she gets almost twice as much done as the average employee. That’s money well spent.” Curran agrees, “Professional moms are extremely efficient with their time.”
And on the other side of the equation, for women, remaining in the workforce has critical financial implications in the long term. As an example, for a woman making $44k a year, stepping out of the workplace for five years can cost $707k in lifetime value.
With numbers like that at stake, it is so important not to rush a big career decision. With The Mom Project stepping in to help tackle the issues of fair wages, daycare costs, lack of paid leave and workplace inflexibility, moms don’t have to face the choice between family and career too soon. There are now options. What was once a black and white ultimatum has now become a thousand promising shades of grey.
And, for those who do make the choice to take a break and focus fully on family, The Mom Project is here for you as well. When moms are ready to re-enter the professional arena after having taken time off, there is a community of support and a bridge to bring you back.
Brands like The Mom Project are the future. Solving problems. Creating equality. Changing the game for the better by generating win-win solutions for those who run businesses and those who keep them running.
And most importantly, this brand is building a stronger workforce for the women of today and their daughters, who will be our CEOs of tomorrow.