Necessity is the Mother of Invention for Working Moms

erin montage legal

At the It’s Working Project’s Portrait Project, we hear over and again through the intimate and insightful stories new parents share with us, how mothers and fathers have made very real shifts in their career trajectory as a result of parenthood. We hear too from employers a very sincere interest in finding ways to meet obvious and immediate needs of new parents in their organizations, including parental leave coverage and other services to support both the on- and off-ramp of parental leave.

It comes as no surprise that some of our ever-resourceful, entrepreneurial and frankly optimistic Portrait Project Parents have made their own contribution to this omni-present question of how to best support new parents in the workplace. We see how a few have  started down a path to meet the gaping needs of new parents in the workplace. Be it issues of childcare (and related costs), leave coverage (and a complete dearth thereof) or concepts that support the need for flexibility.

So when journalist Rebecca Traister explained in a New Republic article “Why Women Can’t Break Free from the Parent Trap” how being a woman in the workforce can be punishing, we found it more than familiar.  When she pointed out, “What goes less noticed is the way pregnancy and immediate postpartum life itself plays a serious role in slowing professional momentum for women for whom the simple—and celebrated—act of having a baby turns out to be a stunningly precarious economic and professional choice,” we thought, “Yes” followed by “then what?”…

The challenges are real and universal–cutting across racial and socioeconomic lines. That’s why we are so heartened to see several entrepreneurs have given birth to an entirely new strategy for supporting women in the workplace. Creating new models for working, coverage, and support.

On the employment side we’ve seen co-working spaces that offer childcare popping up in major metro areas like New York, New Jersey and San Francisco. Work and Play NJ was conceived by Deborah Engel who left her job as VP of public relations firm The Lippin Group after the birth of her second child and found working from home isolating. There’s also Women’s Plaza, which takes it a step further, and asks you to imagine “a place where work and childcare, networking and nurturing, all happen under one roof.” As founder, Glaucia Martin-Porath explains of the impetus, “I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home Mom … It was isolating and crazy-making. I went back to work, but I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I wanted to be a mother and develop myself. Why did I have to choose?”

Business networks like Inkwell and The Second Shift are facilitating targeted contract work for women in their fields of expertise, while Montage Legal provides industry specific flexible work, and Emissaries, targets the parental leave market.

And these are just a few. With others still to be conceived or currently gestating. We applaud and encourage the growth of this essential next generation of tools to support and make sure It’s Working for all families.

If you have a story to share about your struggles of making it all work, or want to share with us the solutions you’ve created for yourself and others as a business owner, we’d love to hear your story at the Portrait Project or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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How to be a Lottery Winner

Be the Powerball of Bosses


Powerball fever is spreading across the nation as the lottery jackpot climbs to over $1 billion. With a big “B.” Go ahead, buy that ticket (or 10), dream a little dream about what you’d do with your riches, and then focus on the lottery you might actually win (or maybe you’ve already won): the Boss lottery. With a huge “B.”

What is the Boss lottery? It’s when you have a boss who understands how to bring new parents back to work with ease, as a matter of course, and with a sense of pride. It is a commitment to getting it right by setting employee and employer up for success. That means respecting time, boundaries, and genuinely caring about how to make it possible for parent employees to be their best at work and at home.

We hear story after story through It’s Working Project’s Portrait Project about how having the right boss makes or breaks the reality of back to work after baby in the American workforce. So in this time of Powerball mania, we’ve been thinking about the parents who have hit the jackpot–the ones who got lucky enough to work for someone who takes seriously their commitment to parental return. That is winning!

One thing we have seen, those who win often pay it forward (and with amazing amounts of pride). Sometimes winning the Boss lottery means becoming that boss.

Lainie from Cincinnati explains being a great boss is about flexibility, “Most of the contractors I hire are moms who regret leaving the workforce. I’ve hired some on full-time. I’ve always given the flexibility to work hours that are convenient to them. I’ve always covered for someone who had to take a kid to an appointment. I’ve never asked someone to work a typical schedule and have to pay for daycare without paying that person a wage that would allow them to afford a high caliber of childcare.”

And Claire from Kentucky shows us the importance of support, “”I am a mentor for new lawyers and active with women’s groups in my area, in part because I am a parent. After having my daughter, I also started a Lean In Circle in my region for women attorneys, in large part because working and being a mom is tough in the early years.”

While Erin from Houston shows us how changing workplace culture is pivotal, “I have someone right now whose wife is pregnant with their first and have worked with him to determine leave & encouraged him to both consider taking all the time we pay for (now 16 weeks for him) and offered flexible leave solutions if that works better (flex time, work from home, etc). It’s incredibly important to me that I normalize taking maternity and paternity leave from my position as a leader & that I advocate.”

So sure, you’ve got to play to win. And being that boss is winning — winning loyalty, commitment, recruitment, engagement, and retention. Best part, it doesn’t even cost a penny to play, and we guarantee your odds of winning the Boss Lottery are definitely better than 1 in 292.2 million.

If you have a story to share with the It’s Working Project’s Portrait Project about how you’ve won the Boss lottery or have been that boss, please get in touch with us through our site, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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Strolling to Success with the Clintons

Sunny Day, NYC


via Daily Mail, photo by Banjo.

It’s not every weekend you get to see one of the country’s most-recognized families out for a stroll in New York City. But indeed, just after Christmas, I caught a lucky glimpse of the Clintons strolling with their family along lower 5th Avenue in Manhattan as I strolled along with mine.

And while Daily Mail captured it for the world to see, my family and I had a unique experience of our own.

I’ve worked with my share of celebrities and have been fortunate enough to provide support to all kinds of families, first through Forty Weeks and our beloved brand partners, and now through the It’s Working Project. My view is that we all–famous or not–need support and pathways to our own individual success, however we define it.

So, this weekend’s sighting struck me, not because it involved celebrities, but because it exemplified our mission. Three generations of a legendary American First family walking, a young mom with her hands on the stroller, the grandmother helping to guide it, smiles on faces. As someone who has dedicated her life’s work to supporting women and families, getting an up-close and personal view of the Clintons demonstrating their version of It’s Working success was beyond expectation, but also quite familiar. So many of the stories in the It’s Working Project’s Portrait Project speak to how critical it is to have family support.

As I strolled with my (slightly older) family past the Clintons in New York on December 26, what made this vision of Hillary, Bill, Chelsea, husband Marc and baby daughter Charlotte so noteworthy was the way in which familiar bonds of support and care momentarily overshadowed the layers of ambition, professional commitment and political drive. I was thrilled to see Hillary and her clan take a much-deserved break from a hectic campaign schedule to spend time with family. Like all of us — the Clintons were making sure it was working during precious down time.

The fortuitous street-side scene underscores for me the importance of support–for all families–at work and at play. Not the traditional support of staff and secret service that one associates with a front-running candidate, but the homespun breed that comes with multi-generational support systems, lessons handed down and the success strategies that allocate time and space for families to take care of–and joy in–one another. The Clintons may have been out for a brief holiday walk, but their stride tells a very different story. One that can have a positive effect for generations to come.

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