Mamas at Work

Women in the workplace: how companies can support working mothers

50+ ways companies can care for working mothers
Women in the workplace: how companies can support working mothers

Join me for our 4-part series: Women in the workplace

As The Memo works to dig deeper on the topics that will change the workplace, this month we’re discussing women in the workplace in a 4-part series:

  • Week 1: Changing the workplace for working mothers
  • Week 2: Menopause’s impact on work and how to address it
  • Week 3: What can we do differently to close the pay gap?
  • Week 4: Steps to create a trans-inclusive workplace

We’ve got some amazing guest contributors who are rolling up their sleeves to get tactical and inspire change. But, you’re part of this work and we want to hear from you. What behaviors are holding your company back? What resources do employees need to build confidence and create change for themselves?

When we raise this tide, all boats will be lifted.

Let’s get to work,

Anna Oakes

Editor, Quartz at Work

Dartmouth’s first female president has advice for companies on leveraging the strengths of women

I’m excited to share an excerpt of my Q&A with Dr. Sian Beilock, who leads one of the nation’s most elite women’s colleges, Barnard, and will soon be the first woman president at Dartmouth College in its 250-year history. As a cognitive scientist, her work explores how systemic biases can create additional stress for women that further holds them back professionally.

Rethinking how we measure success may also cause a company to take a larger step back, examining what it means to be a good leader at their company. Where should companies focus these efforts?

While women leaders often score higher than men in attributes including conscientiousness, reliability, and trustworthiness, traditional “growth potential characteristics,” like leadership, ambition, and assertiveness are typically attributed to men. In this way, women have to overcome stereotypical notions of strong leadership. A Yale study found that despite receiving higher performance scores than men, women are more likely to receive low “growth potential” scores, negatively impacting opportunities for promotion.

To properly account for the leadership qualities that women bring to the table, leaders can develop unified promotion criteria that factor in a variety of skills. This can help combat biases toward certain attributes and create more equitable assessments come promotion time. Full transparency in the promotion process is key in codifying these policies, as employees can glean insights into how they are being evaluated, share feedback, and hold managers accountable for their thinking.

Even with changes to the systems inside of a company, I realize there is work to be done on the individual level. Is there one behavior or mindset that you see in women that might be prohibiting their own success?

As many companies are encouraging workers to return to the office, leaders must be accustomed to change and able to manage a workforce through uncertainty. Research shows being flexible and resilient is important for success. Women, as they define themselves through multiple identities and are able to cycle through them while still maintaining a strong sense of self, could be at an advantage here. Women may have a leg up when coping with major change, allowing them to thrive during reopenings and transition periods.

Read our full Q&A here, including Dr. Beilock’s thoughts on how to build financial confidence.

4 maternity leaves and 6 kids in 2 years: What co-founder moms learned and how they reward employees now

Molly George is CEO and co-founder of Kickstand and has led communication programs for scaling startups to guiding B2B tech brands through successful IPOs. Her two young boys have made her great at being flexible, cheering obnoxiously at sporting events, and tolerating noises of unacceptable decibel levels.

“I’m pregnant…again.” It was 2018, I was four months back from my own maternity leave, and my co-founder, Kristina Kennedy, who had returned from her first maternity leave three weeks before, was planning for another leave. And that wasn’t all. Over two years, we navigated four maternity leaves and the addition of six children, where we doubled the size of our business and our families. Guiding the growth of our fast-growing public relations agency, Kickstand, at the height of our hustle years (and on a startup founder’s salary) required many serenity now moments.

Image for article titled Women in the workplace: how companies can support working mothers
Graphic: Alex Citrin-Safadi

Our kids are now the best of buds, and we’re left with a strong perspective on the support and resources working mothers need. We felt the pain of the many challenges it comes with and knew we wanted to be part of the solution.

While today, many U.S. companies focus on parental leave as the primary solution, we believe working mothers, truly all caregivers, need resources, flexibility, the ability to pace their own careers, and more money. Here are four ways Kickstand is working to give our employees what they deserve:

1. Build your own parental leave. We provide 18 weeks of parental leave to be taken anytime during the first year following birth or adoption.

2. Working parent stipends. The reality is parents’ needs are so individual—and they change over time.

3. Family planning grants. The costs and challenges of being a parent often start before a child enters the picture. We believe everyone should be able to start a family when and how they choose.

4. Flexibility – in the short and long term. Career growth ebbs and flows, and the early parenting years can have a particular impact on career trajectory.

For expanded detail and best practices behind these four ideas your company can implement to support working mothers, click here.

How can companies care for and leverage working mothers

Here’s our newest content to help your company improve how they care for and leverage working mothers (and other demographics, too!).

🌈 3 questions to audit fertility benefits for LGBTQ+ inclusion and give support for the care that works for them.

🪃 5 tips to create boomerang employees and capture the growing trend of return employees. Find out how to make sure they come back to you versus another company.

👪 36 ways to build a family-friendly culture (Don’t worry. We broke it down into eight themes to help you find the tips that address your company’s biggest gaps.)

🍩 It takes a village: How Donut empowers working parents to see behind the scenes of how they take their own advice to engage employees remotely.

Action for women

While we want to change the systems and evolve company practices, policies, and mindsets to support working mothers better, we also want to provide resources for the individual:

🧹 3 ways to reduce invisible tasks for women at work shows us that while we may all have tasks to complete that lack oomph, women are given these tasks more often and say yes more often.

🤢 How I leveraged the unsolicited parenting advice I got at work helps us protect our sanity as coworkers question whether we’ve still got it, whether or not we’ll return from maternity leave, or if that’s really spit-up on my shirt.

Quartz has a new podcast

It’s called Work Reconsidered, and it’s all about our changing workplaces—how they got to be the way they are, how they’re changing for the better, and what that means for you. Work Reconsidered is out Oct 6, subscribe now so you never miss an episode.

Image for article titled Women in the workplace: how companies can support working mothers
Illustration: Quartz Creative ( (In-House Art)


There’s no easy answer to any of this, but we hope you found one tip to put into practice and improve your workplace for working mamas. Start today!

This week’s edition of The Memo was brought to you by:

🙄🙄 Our Quartz at Work editor, Anna Oakes, who is getting comfortable with her role as a know-nothing, as her twins are now in sixth grade.

🎨 October’s artist-in-residence, Quartz’s own Alex Citrin-Safadi, who incorporated her young daughter’s orange scribbles into her piece. 🥲