When Ivanka Trump introduced her father at the Republican National Convention last week, she said, “American families need relief. Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties, they should be the norm.” Well, she’s right about that. But that will take putting some actual policies in place. Here are 10 things that will help make life better for working moms.
1. On site childcare for all companies with over 50 employees or for each office building with more than 50 employees. Imagine it: You get up in the morning, get your child ready, get yourself dressed, eat breakfast, and then you go to work with your child. You drop your child in one room, and head off to your office just steps away. No time added to your commute, no madly rushing to get there before it closes.
And it’s good for your company’s bottom line, too. You spend more time at your desk because of your shorter commute, so productivity goes up, and one study found that the childcare itself can bring in money as well.
2. Give nursing parents safe and quiet places to pump. This means no closets or God forbid bathrooms. Making it easy to pump shows new parents that their employers are committed to keeping them in the workplaces, and increases morale. Employers should also introduce nursing parents to Work and Pump, an amazing online resource, and to other nursing parents who can show them the ropes.
3. Eliminate the pay gap. Make it part of someone’s job to ensure that men and women are paid equally. There is already an app for employees to help them negotiate and be better informed about the wage gap, but it’s time for employers to step up. If anyone negotiates a raise, everyone on their level gets it. If the company can’t afford to give the raise to men and women, then no one gets it. Across the board policies are better than each woman for herself.
4. Support mom entrepreneurs. Tax breaks, mentoring programs, and cowork spaces with childcare would go a long way in encouraging moms who want to take the plunge and start their own businesses.
5. Add a monthly diapers and wipes stipend to WIC and Medicaid. Diapers cost $80+ per child per month, and currently aren’t covered by any of the programs that provide support to low income families with young children. But diapers aren’t optional, and the stress of paying for diapers is very heavy on low-income moms.
In a recent study, researchers concluded that giving diapers and wipes to low income families could be “a tangible way of reducing parenting stress, a critical factor influencing child health and development.”
6. Coach moms (and dads) on creating a successful work/life balance. Some big companies have already started to do this, like Ernst & Young, KPMG, Grant Thornton, MetLife, Deutsche Bank, and Etsy. In person, over the phone, or online, coaches help parents before and after a baby is born to plan their transition and navigate the hurdles of new parenthood. It makes parents feel more supported in the workplace, which makes them better and more loyal employees.
7. PSA to employers big and small that supporting working parents is good for business. This is simple, and would go such a long way. Apparently some companies need reminding that keeping employees happy means they’re less likely to quit. Losing employees is expensive when new ones have to be found and trained. There’s lots of data around this. Let’s give it a flashy ad campaign.
8. Make quality summer camp available for all. For many parents summer is hugely stressful, because it means paying for camp, or leaving kids to fend for themselves for weeks at a time while parents head to work. Making public summer camps available for free would lift a huge burden off of working parents, allowing them to stay at work and know their children are cared for and learning.
9. Affordable and accessible family planning. If your family is complete, or you just aren’t ready for a child right now, having easy access to birth control and abortion is good for everyone.
10. Federally mandated paid medical leave after a new child, plus 7-10 days of paid medical leave for a sick child each subsequent year. I can’t believe we even have to ask for this.