It’s time for one of those law posts, and Eric gave me the perfect tool last night when he handed me a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal. An article (The Mommy Drain: Employers Beef Up Perks to Lure New Mothers Back to Work), in the September 28th issue highlighted programs at top companies to allow greater flexibility for new parents. Some of the perks include:
- Increasing maternity-leave pay
- Communicating penefits and supports proactively (okay, that’s a bunch of nice sounding words)
- Keeping in touch during maternity leave
- Offering meaningful jobs with reduced travel and hours (a key: if we’re working, it’s usually because we want to contribute)
- Giving mothers fair access to bonuses and incentives (There’s little I hate more than the perception I’m worth less as an employee because I value my time with my children)
- Facilitating longer leaves.
As a young woman with children, I’m always looking for creative tools employers develop to keep my generation in the marketplace. Whether you agree or think it’s best, fifty percent of law students are women, and I believe the statistic is the same for med school and MBA programs. More and more young women obtain graduate degrees as their male counterparts opt to work out of college.
The direct result is that in a tightening job market employers must be flexible and creative to keep smart women in their 20s and 30s in the workplace.
For some DC law firms, this has meant having daycare centers on site (not an ideal solution, but better than the alternatives). For my firm it means I work three days a week most weeks, though on the days I don’t work I’m available by phone and email.
Both times I took maternity leave, it was the first time the company had a woman in that situation. With Abigail I took six weeks off and then slowly ramped up from there. I was in the building every night for law school, so could easily keep my fingers in the middle of everything. And the best part was Abigail got to go to work with me the first nine months. I was considerably blessed.
With Jonathan, I took three months off, but was available and again could take the kids in when I needed to work. There are still days the kids go to the office with me if I have a short court hearing on a day off. My current employer gives me great flexibility as I am flexible with them. As an attorney, a part-time situation is hard to find, so I know I’m blessed again.
It will take awhile for the flexibility highlighted in the article to trickle down through all companies, but the smartest will look for ways they can accommodate my generation’s desire to be active parents if they want to keep us in the marketplace.
Okay, I’m stepping off my soapbox now.