Why Women Helping Women is Essential to Workplace Flexibility

Working Mom Manifesto: The best way for working moms to achieve a flexible work lifestyle is for them to help each other.

The first post in a series on Women Helping Women in Business.

There’s so much discussion around “what working moms want” these days. But let’s face it folks, it’s pretty simple — they want to be able to work, to continue contributing with their education and experience, and still feel like they are able to be a good mom.

Me and my kiddos.

Me and my kiddos.

The good news is, the timing has likely never been better to actually achieve that goal, thanks in part to women helping each other in a way they may not have been able to historically. The even better news is that in doing so, they’ll lead the way for flexibility for everyone in the workplace.

Why? For one, the sheer volume of women in the workforce is significant. Women account for half of the workforce today, and are the primary breadwinners in 40% of homes with children under 18–four times what it was in 1960.

Pamela Ryckman, author of Stiletto Network, a new book that chronicles the economic power of small all-women “dinner” groups across the country, argues that women are finally becoming more collaborative at work because there’s more “room to breathe.”

“What I found is that there have been systemic problems. When there’s only room for one woman at the top, women can’t help and support each other. You’re not inclined to share information and resources with the woman in the office next door, if inevitably one of you will be pushed out. You can’t shine a light on that talented up-and-comer if she’ll inevitably knock you off your perch,” Ryckman said, because historically, there wasn’t enough room for more women in the organization. Finally, she says, there’s “enough room for more women at the top,” and consequently more room for them to help each other get there.

Additionally, the number of women-owned businesses in the United States continues to rise–there are 8.6 million of them, generating $1.3 trillion in revenue, according to the American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.

Susan Sobbott of AMEX wrote in The Huffington Post that women create businesses at 1.5 times the rate of men, “creating the companies they want to work for, filling meaningful voids in the marketplace and creating meaningful changes to workplace standards for themselves and their employees.” In other words, women start businesses to create the workplace culture they want–a thought she underscored at the recent Third Metric Conference in New York, also hosted by Huffington Post.

“The happiest women I know are usually the ones who work for themselves. So many of us burn out trying to do things the corporate way,” said Katrina Alcorn, author of the upcoming book, Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink.

“Then we become self-employed and find that we’re incredibly productive when we have autonomy to work the way we need to. We’re also much happier.”

It’s a positive trend for working moms that women are founding businesses at such a rapid clip. Small businesses account for some 55% of all jobs in the United States. It stands to reason that if more women business owners are hiring into the cultures they’ve created, the more power they have to help another working mom strike the balance she needs or wants–through hiring.

There’s evidence of this phenomenon on maybrooks.com, which helps working moms find high-end, flexible job opportunities. An overwhelming number of the jobs posted with us come from other women–some who own their own businesses, some who are hiring managers or recruiters, and in a few instances, some who are just moms looking out for other moms by sharing a link to a job they know is perfect for another working mom.

We see all kinds of creative schedules to enable flexibility–from “work from home Tuesdays,” to “choose their schedule,” to “four-day workweeks.” To post a job with us, employers must describe what makes their job “mom-friendly,” and the answers are often heartfelt: “This is a full-time flex, work-from-home job. We are a team of working mothers who have mastered the art of working hard and playing hard.”

We built our site on the premise that women have the power to help each other achieve the flexibility they want, and that their ability to do so is paramount to shifting the paradigm for all working moms. We believe that to truly value the contribution of women in the workplace, companies have to be willing to be flexible with them when they need flexibility–and not simply let them slip away when the existing corporate structure doesn’t support their family needs.

And importantly, we believe that women can–and should–play a large leadership role in this process. So, we built a tool that enables everyone to share links to flexible jobs or post their own, to help shine a light on the companies that already “get it,” and ultimately, to help another working mom find a flexible job.

When we launched our site, we knew that our tagline–Where Smart Moms Help Each Other Find Flexible Careers–had a bit of a hopeful element to it. While we already knew that women helped each other in every other aspect of their lives, would they help each other achieve flexible careers? Today we know the answer: Yes.

Know of a “mom-friendly” job? Share it with us on maybrooks.com.

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