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.