As Founder & President of Working Mother Media, Carol Evans is a champion for culture change in America for working mothers and their families.
This has been a terrible year for moms in so many ways. Moms have seen their families’ financial stability shaken and—in many cases—destroyed. They have had to take on even more responsibility with their husbands more likely to be laid off than they are.
They have been stressed about flex time vs. face time, worried that they may need to give up hard-earned flex arrangements to insure their jobs. And of course, fear that that they might lose their health insurance is rampant among Moms—and in lock step with our fear of the H1N1 virus. Moms are being told to keep sick children home and to stay home themselves at the first sneeze—and yet there's no mandate for paid sick days in this country.
So where's the good news in this year? What can we celebrate? I propose that we celebrate the leaders from corporate America who are not waiting for our government to catch up to every other developed country on earth, but are voluntarily taking concrete steps now to support working families. Every year at this time Working Mother magazine conducts a rigorous analysis of data and names the Working Mother 100 Best Companies. This year in the midst of the recession, we wondered if our Best Companies might take a step back on flex, paid maternity leave, health insurance for part-time employees, and so on. What we found instead was a renewed commitment to the programs and policies that allow working mothers to compete for success in their careers while being the best possible mom at home.
The Working Mother 100 Best have maintained or increased paid maternity, paternity and adoption leave, and every one of them now offers flex time and telecommuting. They have increased health and wellness programs and funded health insurance for part timers. They have opened new childcare centers on site. They have supported moms and dads of college-bound kids with scholarship programs and counseling.
Video: Carol on 100 Best
The Working Mother 100 Best Companies support working families voluntarily because the return on their investment is high. Increased employee productivity and morale, retention of talented women, and healthier employees are just some of the benefits they reap. That these companies did not back down from their commitments during tough times tells an important story about the success of these programs and policies. I hope our government will one day mandate support for working moms, but until then let us all salute the leaders of the Working Mother 100 Best Companies—and the 30 million working moms who keep our businesses and communities strong.