Gender issues still hold a pervasive presence within the ever-changing American workforce. Most women will experience wage and promotion discrimination during their careers, and the effects are even worse for mothers. The overwhelming majority of women will have children by the time they’re in their mid-40s, which should also be their professional peak. Yet, working mothers typically are paid just 69 cents for every dollar that working fathers earn. What are some of the factors that are causing this disparity between moms and finding meaningful, lucrative work?
For a woman reentering the workforce after being a stay at home mom, the modern job market can be especially intimidating. The hiring process has undergone major changes over the past few years. Although more jobs are available than during the recession, the number of ways to find, research, and apply to jobs has exploded. There are a few things employers can easily do to help women better navigate this new talent acquisition landscape and in return, tap into a new pool of job candidates that are highly motivated, empathetic, and well-rounded.
Now that women comprise 50 percent of the workforce for the first time in history, hiring practices should catch up to meet their needs and expectations. According to a recent iCIMS survey, aside from salary, professional women most consider health benefits, work/life balance and schedule flexibility when accepting a new job, in that order. Not every organization will provide each of these things, but they’d be foolish not to. Men also prioritize healthcare and work/life balance, which are now must-haves for any American, dual-income household.
If your organization offers competitive pay, benefits and flexible scheduling, the key to unlocking a loyal, engaged employee base is well within reach. Parents desire stable careers where they can make strong contributions, receive training opportunities, and have clear paths to leadership and advancement. Here are some ways employers are showcasing their family-friendly company cultures to capture experienced workers returning to the labor force after parental leave.
The first step in hosting a successful job fair is knowing your audience. Chances are, your company already employs other parents who have found their perfect career match within the organization. Pay attention to the nature of their roles and what motivates them most, then highlight those aspects in your job postings and career fair promotions. Better yet, invite these parents to meet job seekers in person to share their experiences face-to-face.
When possible, be sure to invite mothers and fathers in company leadership to meet prospective hires. Overall, 45 percent of office professionals believe parental leave decreases their opportunities for promotion. And among working men, 91 percent believe men are less likely than women to take advantage of parental leave, even when they have the option. When you can highlight successful male and female employees who have maintained a strong career trajectory while navigating parenthood, you encourage job seekers to envision the same for themselves.
If there’s one thing every mom is exceptionally good at, it’s time management. Mothers are known to be incredible multi-taskers, capable of running household schedules, getting children where they need to be, paying bills, planning meals, etc. Realizing that many family’s schedules are often dictated by school hours, it’s smart to plan your job fairs during those hours when moms might have more free time alone.
For busy moms, flexibility is also a key factor in choosing an employer. Monster suggests that some of the best careers for moms are in industries that offer more part-time or alternate hours like healthcare, retail, and creative services. Women overwhelmingly fill caretaking and service roles, many of them in critical patient care for example, which are in high demand across the country. If you’re filling roles in any of these fields, you’ll more likely find the perfect match if you tailor your approach to target these working mothers.
One of the most challenging employment hurdles women face is how to get back into the workforce after ten years or more. The value of previous work experience blended with the dedication it takes to raise a family should not be discounted. Parenting is a full-time job and there are many skills that are transferrable in any workplace, such as attention to detail, team work, and empathy.
An interesting new trend being explored to cater to this type of job seeker is the “returnship.” For parents who take a break from their careers due to family responsibilities, employers are starting to offer returnships to help transition workers back into their careers. iCIMS found that 82 percent of office professionals, and 95 percent of millennials, are interested in taking advantage of this type of program. Any formal education or training offerings could have an equally strong impact, as well, if a parent simply can’t afford to partake in an unpaid or lower waged internship model.
The workplace gender gap my not be resolved any time in the near future. But if employers take the time to tailor their open requisitions and job fair events to capture the attention of parents, they stand to benefit tremendously from a new crop of highly dedicated, seasoned workers.