Business Leaders: Caregivers Are the Talent Pool You Want to Attract. Here’s How to Do It
The hiring processes of old that often left mothers and caregivers at a disadvantage are coming under a microscope. Today’s increasingly diverse workforce is demanding more from employers. Working mothers comprise nearly a third of the female workforce. While they bring a host of coveted hard and soft skills to the workplace — like resilience, tenacity, the ability to multitask, and a priority of care and empathy — their caregiving needs often place them at a disadvantage in the hiring process.
Research shows that if employers and governments enacted policies to support caregivers and mothers, it would provide more than $3 trillion to the global economy. With the emergence of the remote work model, it’s high time for organizations to start valuing the diverse experiences and skills that caregivers and mothers bring to the table and step up to the plate to meet the needs of this critical talent pool.
Here’s what a few leaders at our Equality Lounge® at Davos 2022 had to say about how organizations can attract and support mothers and caregivers in the future of the workplace:
1. Reimagine the 9-5 with innovative, flex work policies.
The most important letter in the world inclusion is “i,” which represents the individual person. If we want to create work environments and policies that attract caregivers and mothers, it means catering to and caring for the individual. This might mean policies for shorter meetings, flexible work times, quiet hours, and caregiver hours. These policies allow flex time for both when and where employees can work, which will allow your team to work effectively and productively based on their caregiver needs outside of work.
“For companies that want to retain their employees, you have to procure and provide for employees as caregivers,” says Claudia Romo Edelman, the founder of We Are All Human. “What policies will make companies more attractive to get women and caregivers in the workplace? Flexibility, when and where people work, is number one.”
Hodge adds: “We employ people for the long term by caring for ourselves and others through policy. As a company, we gave people pandemic leave — whether to destress, to care for someone, or to take care of children. They had 30 days off. This policy was our way of communicating to each employee that ‘you are the most important person in our organization.’”
2. Prioritize parental and caregiver leave.
It’s one thing to have leave written out as a company on paper, but it’s another thing to encourage your team to take it. Employees want to see a workplace culture that supports and reinforces the flexible policies set in place; this creates a healthy culture of trust.
“Companies should encourage their teams to take parental leave, including men,” says Michelle Morse, the vice president of girls and women strategy at the United Nations Foundation. “It’s been traditional for men to not take that leave and for people to disparage them when they do, but I love leaders who encourage men to utilize those benefits.”
Tara Abrahams, Head of Impact at The Meteor, agrees about the importance of having a company culture that supports leave policies.
She says, “There is a difference between policy and a culture that actually supports the policy. A workplace that supports policies for caregivers is better for everyone and creates a healthier company.”
3. Leaders should model the behavior they want to see.
In today’s age of transparency in the workplace, it’s essential for leaders to not just talk the talk, but to also walk the walk. When organizations have flexible workplace policies in place, it is critical that leaders also utilize those policies to pick up their children from school or care for a sick family member.
Anna Frellsen, the CEO of Maternity Foundation, says, “We need role models — not just women role models, but male models…and for them to be celebrated for doing that.”
James Hodge, group vice president and chief strategy advisor at Splunk, agrees: “Change starts with me — me showing other people in my organization that it’s okay if I can’t make this meeting or this offsite because I have to go see my children. I’m trying to create a change with how I lead.”
4. Funnel resources into childcare and caregiving benefits.
It is estimated that caregivers spend an estimated $648 billion annually on care-related activities.
Abrahams says, “If the childcare need was met, it would provide $3 trillion to the global economy. But that is a huge opportunity for childcare alone.”
If businesses want to retain this critical talent pool, it’s essential that they provide caregiving benefits and assistance like on-site childcare, financial assistance, assistance finding childcare providers, and discounted care.