For women, talking about motherhood at work can be risky. Cultures like boys’ clubs aren’t usually inclusive of, say, having lives that don’t revolve around work, and being a mom, even a career-driven mom, means the center of your world isn’t your workplace.
We at InHerSight want that to change—and soon. And despite the major downsides of the pandemic, we’re hopeful that seeing parenthood in real time has encouraged companies to be more open to flexible work hours, asynchronous schedules, continued remote work, and other benefits that support well-rounded lives.
In fact, we already know that the pandemic has shifted the way employers support working parents, working moms in particular, because we asked. Check out these innovative ways organizations have supported parents through the pandemic. Which ones would you want to continue far into the future?
What’s one thing your employer did during the pandemic that made it easier to be a working mom?
“Before COVID happened, we were prepared to become first-time parents. No question, the baby would bring a great deal of change to our lives and require a period of adjustment professionally, but we didn’t see the pandemic around the corner that would crank up the volume on all the changes and bring new requirements and restrictions.
Having the assurance from my employer that I could ease my way back to safe travel to visit customers and have flexible work hours during the day and evening to care for my daughter was a relief. The level of understanding by my company has been amazing and made the transition to motherhood and being a working parent much easier.”
—Amanda Barbara, National Sales Manager, Boats Group
“Moms, we were made for this moment. The innate ability to multitask, juggle kids, home, and careers has prepared us to take this pandemic head on. Thankfully, MDLIVE accommodated a move from the office to a home setting, which was a blessing with its own unique set of challenges. Had your husband walk behind your conference call in pajamas? Been there. Child makes an appearance in a company webinar looking for snacks? Been there. Have an amazing company that supports you and understands the challenges moms face? Thankfully, I have been there too. So, moms, if you are feeling overwhelmed and overloaded, take hope that you too were made for this moment!
—Angela McDuffie, Clinical Nurse Manager, MDLIVE
“We have instituted a small change in how we set up internal meetings. We have all changed our calendar, so meetings have a default duration of 25/50 minutes. Given how much time we spend on Zoom these days, this has had a big impact. It forces us to be mindful of the clock and take breaks, for kids or whatever needed. It also helped that our leadership proposed this change. It communicated, quite effectively, that they get it. Gradient AI is a small start-up, with big plans. To have the employees be a priority as well, was very gratifying.”
—Avanti Tilak, Data Scientist, Gradient AI
“Tomorrow.io is the most accommodating place to work for as a mom! The entire culture is built around results and not on just on your time spent working. There is a lot of trust that allows me the autonomy to manage my time as I see fit and to have full flexibility of my schedule. As a mom of three who lives in Israel and works with a U.S.-based team, this has been essential for me. It has allowed me to have a real work-life balance and also made it much easier to handle the lockdowns!
—Ayala Rudoy, Director of Global Air Quality Sales, Tomorrow.io
“I enjoy the stories of other parents in Slack. Supporting watercooler talk among groups was a great way to support work-life balance, especially since work life and home life and school life all came crashing together. The Parents at Avail Slack channel was sometimes a way to put it back in perspective and reduce feelings of insanity.”
—Carolyn Love, Manager, Trust and Safety, Avail
“That’s tough. Working at Frame.io is great, and they do a wonderful job providing a support system for moms and working parents like me. When I began working at Frame.io last year there was a lot of adjusting going on in my house. My little one was transitioning into online learning in the third grade, and Frame.io did a great job helping me adjust my schedule so I’m able to assist my daughter during her toughest class sessions. Frame.io encourages family interruptions on Zoom meetings because everyone loves to see and say hello to the kids.”
—Demetrias Sessions, Customer Support Specialist, Frame.io
“I'm extremely fortunate that Indeed offers an incredible amount of flexibility for all employees, something I value tremendously as a working mom. One thing Indeed offered all employees during COVID was a monthly YOU day, a collective day off for us to focus on our mental wellbeing and self-care. I really value having one day a month where I can escape to a nearby wellness resort to unplug, relax, and recharge so that I can be at my best both at work and home with my husband, Ben, and two kiddos, Ryan (8) and Elena (5).”
—Ellen J. Hawes Durbin, Senior Director, Global Product Commercialization, Inclusive Hiring, Indeed
“I was very fortunate to be able to work from home after the pandemic. Our leadership team has been very understanding and supportive. My manager even took the time to share some techniques with me to help my 9-year-old son at school. He wanted to meet my son during our virtual 1:1 meeting when my son started speaking loudly in the middle of our meeting. There have been multiple occasions that my 3-year-old daughter, my team member’s kids, or our pets have joined our team meetings. This is the new norm that all companies should embrace, work is still getting done!”
—Evren Tipi Akben, Director-Systems and Support Engineering, Lowe’s Home Improvement
“I have two lovely children, ages 12 and 9, and in the U.K. we have had three COVID lockdowns over the past year. I've been very fortunate to work for a fantastic company that keeps reminding me to put my family first. With two adults and two kids all on different schedules, all on different video calls, all under one roof, has created a chaotic household for sure, but we've coped well with the support of my manager and team. As a mother, having an understanding and flexible employer, makes you want to be the best employee possible; you work harder and produce excellent results.”
—Hanan Smart, Product Owner and Project Manager, Boats Group
"Our leaders have been very successful, since even before the pandemic, in building an inclusive team culture where we are encouraged to bring our whole selves to work each day. When schools went virtual at the beginning of the pandemic, I began to see that what they meant with 'your whole self,' might sometimes mean your whole family! We had team check-in calls with kids on screen, with noises, and messes in the background. Weekly check-ins didn't just cover work topics, but how each of us and our families were doing, too. That vulnerable, honest leadership was crucial to weathering the pandemic as a working mom. They listened throughout the phases, then adapted team activities and expectations along the way to better suit our needs and scenarios."
—Jenn Roche, Director of Strategic Accounts, InHerSight
“I made the decision to become a mom during a pandemic, which is a crazy decision in itself. However, I have felt completely supported by Markforged throughout the entire past year. Working from home started due to the pandemic, but it was a huge relief during pregnancy and continues to be now that my son is here. The flexibility given by Markforged and my managers has been wonderful. I don’t have to worry as much about schedules or if I have to run out to the pediatrician. I came back to work (still at home) at the end of April, and the transition has been easy.
—Jill Grier, Project Manager, Markforged
“During the pandemic, particularly when my two kids (age 13 and 9) were fully remote for approximately seven months, Avail was very flexible with my time. I worked early in the mornings, during the day, and also at night after the kids went to bed. Doing this allowed me to help my kids throughout the day if they needed help with technology or an assignment. Having the kids home while being a full-time employee was very difficult, but knowing Avail had my back made it much easier. There were times that I had 1:1 meetings and my son needed help with school. Every time, the person I was having a meeting with was so flexible with holding for a few moments while I helped him with no questions asked. My kids are now back full time, Monday through Friday, with regular schedules. Looking back, I’m not sure how I managed to keep it all together. The strength of a mom has no boundaries I suppose!”
—Kathy Dieringer, Project Manager Analyst, Avail
“Adobe offered flexibility. During the pandemic, I started my working day at 6 a.m. and finished at 11 p.m. I worked three hourly intervals. It meant I could look after my two young children and get the job done.”
—Lea Savage, Computer Scientist, Adobe
“I think the biggest thing my manager did is explicitly state that he trusted me with my time. I work heavily in a client-facing role, and I essentially book most of my own meetings with them. Having autonomy and trust with the person whom I directly report to makes a world of difference because I don’t feel like someone is ‘babysitting’ me or my calendar to make sure I’m working. There was an inherent trust that I used my time effectively, and since I demonstrated results, we didn’t need my calendar to be micromanaged.”
—Leyla Tirgari, Manager, Customer Success, Frame.io
“Honestly, I feel badly for any mom who doesn’t work at Schaeffer’s! SIR has been so flexible that it has allowed me to stay in the workforce during this trying time. I was able to go fully remote part-time allowing me time with my children and time focusing on furthering my career.”
—Megan Acierno, Communications Manager, Schaeffer’s Investment Research
“During the pandemic, I was fortunate enough to get an interview with Buzzer and the first thing that struck me about Buzzer was the people-first approach, which has been passed down from our CEO Bo Han to the leadership team under him. Bo has been instrumental in not only building a culture around empathy, diversity, and inclusion, but also practicing it at work. Flexibility (working on my deliverables at my own pace) has been crucial in helping me be a working mom during this time of chaos.”
—Payal Sahay, Senior Engineer, Buzzer
“What made being a working mom easier was the flexibility and understanding that Adobe offered—all of which came from the inspiring messages from the leadership team. We have global days off for all employees, and it helps us recharge and spend time with kids. My 4-year-old son now knows what the Adobe Creative Cloud is and how to video record, take screenshots, and more. And my 15-month-old daughter can say, “Mom, job, laptop, charger, phone, meeting,” and more.
—Pooja Navadiya, Quality Engineer, Adobe
“As a woman, mother, and recently pregnant employee, the care and flexibility to ensure I remain comfortable in my role, while equipped with the tools needed to grow, always remained top of mind with management. I never felt the need to hide or make excuses for my personal, demanding schedule. Crossrope allowed me to celebrate every motherly moment with teammates. We have a great family culture among peers and on occasion, enjoy special appearances by ‘Crossrope’ kids and babies at Zoom calls.
I have never worked in a company where people say they love their job, and I hear it all the time here. Crossrope offered a refreshing distinction in how it differs in its work culture. Our ethics are strong and pronounced at Crossrope. The company fosters an environment where employees are at ease to come forward with issues and concerns, which are met with an open mind for fair assessment. I often say we’re a ‘feel-good’ company that produces ‘feel-good’ products!”
—Ronjiny Basu, Marketing Project Manager, Crossrope
“Avail’s philosophy of leading with empathy really came to light for me, during my recruiting and interview process, and subsequently throughout my tenure, nine months and counting. Avail helped me navigate my onboarding, inheriting, and leading a team, and implementing strategic changes in my function, while I was simultaneously balancing my family commitments as a mom and as an elderly caregiver. I have a 7-year-old daughter and a 79-year-old cognitively impaired mother, both of whom are my kids. Trying to role-model positively as a leader at work and as a mom/caregiver at home have been important during this complex time, and my colleagues at Avail help me stay grounded and make it possible for each of us Availers to accomplish meaningful successes as an organization and as individuals.”
—Shobana Sankaran, Director of Insurance, Avail
“During the first Company All-Hands of the pandemic, some executives had their babies or children either join them on their lap or playing in the background of their video. Being a mom of two toddlers, it meant a lot to me to see that they wanted to normalize kids interrupting meetings and becoming our new coworkers. I truly felt comforted and supported.”
—Sofia Donna, Manager, Safety and Security, Palo Alto Networks
“Last fall my husband and I found ourselves working full-time with two boys, 2-and-under at home. It quickly became impossible to work anywhere close to traditional hours, and things were incredibly stressful. My manager and director never questioned my schedule—only saying, ‘Do whatever you need to do.’ There were days I would barely work a few hours during traditional hours, and the only questions I ever heard were, ‘Are you okay?’ or ‘Do you need anything from me?’ The schedule was intense—working until all hours of the night… but it was a huge relief knowing my employer truly supported me and the situation COVID created.”
—Susan Lopez, Account Director, Frame.io
“It takes a village to raise kids, and for me, that village is my employer. Palo Alto Networks created a strong support system with a parents Slack channel and Connect Groups, providing a safe space to talk and help one another navigate this temporary normal. Being a mom of two kids, it was difficult for me to attend every Connect Group meeting, but when I did—just listening to other parents made me feel like I wasn’t alone and helped me become a better person/parent/employee by being more patient and empathetic toward everyone around me. These groups kept me strong and kept me going.”
—Swati Bhosale, Sr Staff Full Stack Engineer, Palo Alto Networks