This topic remains top of my regular private sector agenda and close to my heart. Newly pregnant women, mothers and working parents desire and need their village. In specific, what was once a given – a community of knowledgeable caring souls eager to shine a light on the pathways and elevate women to a place of confidence set in the present tense. The concept of multi-generations of family existing in a single location is foreign to us now. My interest is not in lamenting what is lost. Rather, the idea is in building a new generation of support easily accessible and open to parents.
Here is a short list:
Breast Feeding Centers:
Offering supports from childbirth education, breastfeeding courses and of course peer groups. These low-judgement zones are focused on empowering women and sending them into their new roles with confidence and new friendships.
Peer Groups in the Workplace:
While some are part of a robust curriculum of peer based support others are more ad hoc. None are any less necessary. These groups not only offer information from what is available (as is leave and how to eek out more time from the layers of possibility) to how to return to work (where to pump, what tools are needed and which are the best) these intimate, honest collection of parents offer the essential power of community. First timers are grateful and hungry for the facts and the hacks. From there these same parents eagerly pay it forward with passion and commitment to the next generation (be it weeks, months or years) of working parents. Some of my favorite examples include Booz Allen Hamilton, Campbells Soup and Levi’s Strauss. There are many more — organizations from all industries, sizes and geographies getting it right in the workplace through connecting parents with each other.
The formula (no pun, truly) is simple — each year a large majority of women leave the workplace due to an inability to find their way to a comfortable, functional new normal as a working mother. These women are experienced and on their way to high, C-suite level management. And these women are not to be replaced. Certainly not inexpensively and in the most organic, honest sense – not at all. Top quality talent is irreplaceable. Yet the private sector loses sight of this very quickly. What this boils down to is the need for employers to recognize their vulnerability in losing quality employees, full of passion for their work not mention institutional knowledge and years of connection to the brand as a whole. Forward thinking organizations address this by looking for better leave and return set-ups. And, as it turns out, one of the most essential is also the least expensive — formalized workplace support groups. I have spent time with BirchBox and January Digital noticing how they have crafted programs to live both as tools (pumping rooms or mik shipping) and as more private offerings (parental groups). These are not meant to feed to organization but rather nurture the individual. And, it works well.
Be it your partner, parents, sibling or community – your family is your touchstone and your gold. They cherish you and support you as very best they can. Be clear — ask for what you want, need and crave (you know that is real) and get the full-on care that they are lovingly sharing your way. One key hack — remove their judgment from your choices. If you need a date night with your co-parent ask and take it. If they offer food or house cleaning say yes with no apologies. Remember the village? You modern day version may be a bit less traditional, but it is yours. Embrace the care, feeding and experience coming your way. You will benefit from knowing how very surrounded by love you really are!
Support for Sale:
Be it via a book (The Fifth Trimester is not only a must read but also a must gift) a service (Let Mama Sleep is just that — again, accept with grace then generously give to the next Mom). A podcast (The Double Shift or The Longest Shortest Time) or simply new approaches via Werk or One Million Work for Flexibility – find the intel you need to keep yourself strong and yes, supported.
Support is the thing. Simple, essential and offering an extremely high return for all involved.
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