On #MothersMonday, Let’s Reimagine How Companies Support Working Mothers


Eight ways companies can support working mothers, retain talent, and stay competitive through economic recovery.

Published may. 07, 2021
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“At home on Sunday you’ll celebrate Mother’s Day with your family. When you come back to work on Monday it can feel like you have to check your motherhood at the door. What if instead we acknowledge it, celebrate it, and help corporate culture adapt to it?”

Gayatri Agnew, Founder, Mother’s Monday

Let’s Embrace and Celebrate Working Motherhood

On Monday, May 10, women across the country will celebrate a new holiday by showing up at work. The date marks the second annual observance of Mother’s Monday, a holiday established in 2020 to recognize the increased pressure the COVID-19 pandemic placed on working moms. Pioneered by Gayatri Agnew—a mother, movement builder, senior director of philanthropy for a Fortune 500 company, and city council member, the movement and holiday are focused on tackling gender inequality and reimagining the role companies can play in supporting mothers.

Ceilings Shattered Amid Major Setbacks

Over the past year, we’ve seen women shattering the glass ceiling at some of the highest levels in our society—just last month, Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi made history as the first women to lead the Senate and the House during a presidential address to Congress. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t note another critical moment in working women’s history: women, in particular working mothers, are leaving or being forced out of the workforce in droves. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, it magnified long-standing inequities around women and caregiving responsibilities. On average, women spend 15 hours more per week on domestic responsibilities than men. To compensate for that fact, one in four women considered downshifting her career or leaving the workforce entirely at the start of the pandemic, and approximately one-third of the 2.3 million women who did exit the workforce cited child care demands as the primary reason for their departure. These numbers are even more drastic for working mothers of color who, in addition to experiencing the caregiving crisis, are three times more likely to be grieving the loss of a loved one due to COVID-19.

Decades of Progress at Risk

Unless meaningful action is taken to support working mothers, this crisis could stall, or even reverse, decades of hard-won progress for women in the workforce, and everyone will suffer—individuals, families, and society. By spending just two years out of the workforce, a working mother can lose between $300,000 to $400,000 in total earnings over her lifetime; those lost wages, combined with the gender pay gap, mean lower cumulative retirement savings as well. Women make up almost half of the entire U.S. workforce—mothers are now the equal, primary, or sole earners in 40 percent of U.S. families—so by squandering their economic potential, we stand to place a significant strain on the economy and hinder any chance of a swift and equitable recovery following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visionary Leaders Can Take Action

JFF’s Recover Stronger Corporate Coalition has recommended policies and best practices for companies to support working parents; on #MothersMonday, we’re focusing our recommendations on working moms.

Read about eight ways to support them, from low- or no-cost efforts to high-investment, high-impact options in the full article on Medium.

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