What Black Working Moms Really Need
It's not another press release. But is corporate America listening?
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“I don’t think we talk enough about why Black mothers are leaving the workforce or changing companies.”
That’s what a Black mom executive said to me when I called her to talk about the topic of this week’s newsletter, timed to coincide with the beginning Black History Month. It was a subtle rebuke, but a necessary one—because we shouldn’t be talking about Black moms just in February.
We should be talking about supporting Black moms (and moms of color) all year long, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because Black women are integral to our pandemic recovery and helping working moms make up the ground we were forced to forfeit these past two years.
Just look at the data. Not only did Black women lose a bigger chunk of jobs than any other demographic during the pandemic, they are also the only group who continue to leave the labor market. While other moms are trickling back into the workplace, Black moms are still being pushed out.
That’s something that Mother Honestly Founder & CEO Blessing Adesiyan thinks about a lot as a Black mom who left corporate America to launch this platform. She decided to quit her job the day after George Floyd died, and I think her story is one that will resonate with a lot of Black moms—but it should also serve as a clarion call for the rest of us. In a powerful piece for the site, she talked to her fellow Black mom execs to find out what companies can do to really help Black moms stay and succeed. It’s a lesson for corporate leaders, yes, but the rest of us too.
When I talked to those same moms for this newsletter, I asked them how non-Black moms could be better allies at work. Here’s what I’m determined to do better, personally:
Ask questions. Don’t leave it to Black women to look into your company’s diversity stats, pay transparency or hiring practices.
Fight back against “diversity fatigue.” One of the moms I talked to mentioned that companies are now getting backlash from non-Black employees for their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) efforts. (“Imagine being a black woman and hearing someone is tired of diversity!”) In other words, we need to keep advocating for our colleagues of color even (or especially) now.
Speak up. If you see a colleague of color being ignored or disrespected, or being paid less than she deserves, remedy it, asap.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my five years of covering working moms, it’s that when one working mom succeeds, we all do better. So let’s do better.
LOVE TO SEE IT
Google boosts its benefits for working parents. The tech giant now offers 18 weeks of parental leave for all parents (up from 12, previously) and 24 weeks for parents who give birth (up from 18). Employees will also be able to take up to eight weeks of caregiver leave (doubled from four).
How to fix childcare before the next pandemic wave. The New York Times opinion writer Jessica Grose spells out three important ways we can make childcare more reliable for working parents, who are still in a “state of despair and semi-panic.” One key idea? Paying workers more, which is why we love…
Childcare workers in Washington, D.C., will get a $10,000+ check. The D.C. Council voted unanimously to redirect tax dollars from the city’s richest residents to childcare workers. Workers will be eligible for checks of about $10,000 or $14,000, depending on whether they work as assistants or leaders of daycare classrooms, according to The Washington Post.
A library built desks just for parents. When the staff at a Virginia library noticed that a lot of working parents were using the computers, they built desks “with a work space attached to a play space that can be latched shut to keep small children nearby, occupied, and safe.” Genius.
Two executives are teaming up to get more Black women on boards. Merline Saintil and Robin Washington have joined forces to launch Black Women on Boards, to improve representation on corporate boards. Saintil is the lead independent director at Rocket Lab and a board member at GitLab, Evolv Technology, Lightspeed Commerce, TD Synnex, and Alkami Technology. Washington is a director at Alphabet, Salesforce, and Honeywell International.
HATE TO SEE IT
The cost of childcare has risen by a jaw-dropping 41%. Parents in the U.S. are paying 41% more for center-based childcare, and spending an average of $14,117 annually, up from $9,977 pre-pandemic, according to data from a recent LendingTree report. Households with children younger than 5 have been hit hardest by the increases.
This newsletter was written by Audrey Goodson Kingo, Editor in Chief at Mother Honestly. Please send feedback, ideas and suggestions (or just say hello!) to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you found this newsletter helpful, please share with a friend!