As part of Landing Point’s virtual workshop series, The Future of Work, we had a highly engaging discussion led by the brilliant Joy Sybesma of P5CC, discussing what’s happening to working mothers and actionable tips on self-advocacy. The session’s participants also shared their challenges and tips/words of encouragement to help others in the group.
To set the context, women and particularly working mothers (and parents in general) have been drastically impacted by COVID in ways that threaten women’s progress in the workforce. According to the McKinsey Women in the Workplace Study 2020, one in three mothers has considered leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers because of COVID. My team and I at Landing Point, are hearing stories about women looking to take a step back because of the increasing difficulty of balancing the demands of work with the demands of home including managing virtual school and additional childcare responsibilities. It’s a sad truth, but one we as working parents have to manage right now, so it is critical that we work together to help each other get through this crisis. With that, Joy and the workshop attendees discussed fantastic tips on how to navigate this and improve our lives both at work and at home which have now become one comingled reality for most of us.
In order to self-advocate one needs to be self-aware and practice self-care. Here were the key takeaways on how to do this:
- Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses and work somewhere and for people that will give you the opportunity to use your core strengths and not waste time on weaknesses.
- Intentionally curate and elevate your network by having a growth mindset. Surround yourself with people who you aspire to and can learn from to help you achieve your goals.
- Know your worth and be true to your values – Don’t be afraid to get market compensation information; Landing Point gets requests for this frequently towards the end of the year. Reach out to us if you are curious about market rates and do your research to ensure you are being paid fairly. In addition, for long term success and happiness at work, take company values seriously, and work for a firm that aligns with yours.
- Define “enough” – It’s important to set boundaries and know when enough is enough at home and at work. This goes hand in hand with knowing what your “why” is and will help you to prioritize how to allocate your time, which relates to the next point.
- Prioritize your inner circle – So often we say yes and make commitments to people in our outer circle and as a result our inner circle, such as immediate family and closest friends, end up moving down the priority list, when in fact they should be the priority.
- Tip – To prioritize your inner circle, ask yourself, “Who needs me the most today?” That can even mean you.
- Negotiate at home – Work with those you live with whether that be a spouse, partner, or whoever to set boundaries to ensure your needs are met.
- Tip – Even in a WFH environment you can set hours each day as to when you are available versus not available and that doesn’t mean it all has to be work-related. You can build time in to transition from work to home life that typically would happen in a commute. For example, build in 10 minutes before the nanny’s hours are over to meditate or listen to fun music.
- Outsource – Prioritize what you absolutely must do and everything else can be outsourced. What this means for women is that typically mothers tend to carry the majority of the emotional burden of caring for kids; however, there is plenty for the other partner to handle. While it may not be exactly what you would do, lower your standards a bit, and accept that it’s done.
The group discussed a few additional tips to self-advocate and better balance work/home life:
- Come up with an understood communication plan with work, such as an urgency code system for any after-hours needs.
- When taking time off, move your work email icon to another less-visited part of your phone.
- Change the sensory aspects in your home when transitioning from work hours to non-work hours. For example, designate a work water bottle you only use while “at work” or change the lighting during work hours versus nonwork hours to indicate a separation (especially for those people in small NYC apartments).
- Move your body and get outside. This was one of the most discussed tips that has made a difference for people during this time when everyone is at home.
- Start a gratitude journal. While this may sound corny, setting aside a minute to write down a few things each day you are grateful for, starts the day off in a way where no matter what you’re already winning, even if that means you being grateful for waking up healthy.
The Point: The COVID pandemic has presented challenges in everyone’s life and working women have been statistically hit the hardest when it comes to career advancement. While we can’t escape the reality of demands at home and at work there are plenty of ways to improve one’s situation by using the tips above to advocate for yourself to live the lifestyle you want.