In 2014, the Pew Research Center posted a study on highly educated women who are “opting out” of the workforce, choosing instead to stay at home and care for their families. This fascinating study focuses on the relatively small percentage of mothers choosing this career path, but perhaps the more interesting detail -- particularly for entrepreneurs -- is the number of talented, capable women who are currently out of work.
The 2010 U.S. Census found that 31 percent of full-time stay-at-home moms have at least a bachelor’s degree. That’s more than 10 million women with professional skills and creativity that could be enhancing our business culture. Unfortunately, because of the lack of flexible options for moms, many of these women choose to leave the workforce completely -- often not entirely by choice, but out of necessity.
Imagine a world where these educated, ambitious mothers had the opportunity to choose a career path that worked for them -- where they were able to bring their skillset to the table without giving up their full-time mom gig. How much are we losing by not including these women in the workforce? How many successful CEOs, gifted writers and financial geniuses are we missing out on? With modern technology, there is no reason entrepreneurial ventures shouldn’t include moms and the talents they have to offer.
My firm has employed dozens of stay-at-home moms. We use creative processes to include staff from all over the western U.S. This gives my business the flexibility to hire contracted employees for the work they are best at. Let me offer some of the solutions we have found helpful to incorporate the power of working moms into our business.
While a business runs on “internet time,” and a fast response rate is a must for any customer-driven business, smart phones make it possible for moms to answer emails from playgroups, the park, waiting in line at school pickup or while they are rocking a baby to sleep. They can process other tasks during school hours, naptime, early in the morning or after their little ones are asleep.
Especially in project-based companies, not every employee needs to work full-time. We hire moms to work with specific clients that have a designated hourly budget. This gives moms the freedom to choose the level of commitment that works for their stage of life.
Childcare is expensive. For some parents, it’s out of reach financially, or it’s just not a desirable situation. Many motivated mothers have turned to working out of their home -- where they can be near their children when needed, but also amazingly productive during naptimes and other quiet intervals throughout the day.
Project based freelancing.
Often, parents have peak times of busyness -- school breaks, heavy involvement in a seasonal sport or performance activity, etc. But when life slows down a little, they’re ready to get back to work. This may sound like it’s a less than ideal situation, but think of all of those one-off projects that you may have a third party on retainer for -- graphic design, product photography, content creation, trade show preparation -- the list goes on and on.
Instead of signing expensive contracts for services that aren’t needed that often, consider turning to moms who have just as much experience, but are willing to work only a few times a year.
Related: Top 5 Jobs for Stay-at-Home Moms
In-house daycare and preschool facilities.
This is obviously not possible for every business, but many startups are beginning to offer in-house childcare options for their employees. This cuts down on sick leave and other crises that often happen to families. It also allows those 10 million women currently not working to have a choice.
They can check in on their children, have peace of mind that they are safe, and make a living at the same time. The cost to implement such a system may be a worthy investment.
There are many ways to integrate moms into the workforce. Thinking outside the box and utilizing these talented women is essential for the health of our economy and workforce.