by Wendy Harmon
It became clear early on that the pandemic would have a tragic impact on working women.
When unemployment spiked, women were harder hit than men. By some estimates, women lost three decades worth of gains in the labor force last year alone, placing many of the societal strides we’ve made toward gender equality at risk.
Lines between work and home duties blurred as schools closed, forcing many working parents to balance childcare, remote learning, and regular jobs. The burden of these demands were disproportionately shouldered by women, causing 2.5 million to leave the workforce.
This Mother’s Day, more than a year since the pandemic upended the way we work and live, we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
There are many lessons to be learned from these tumultuous events, but a glaringly obvious one is the need to support working mothers and families.
Beyond Office Benefits
The tech industry has always prided itself on the superior benefits it offers employees. But the perks companies used to tout—ping pong tables, relaxed dress codes, catered lunches—don’t matter anymore, especially when a significant portion of the industry may never come back to the office.
What workers really want—and what we as an industry and society should demand—are benefits that have a direct impact on our quality of life rather than just creature comforts. Real perks like full-paid parental leave, coverage for fertility treatments, and in general, the assurance that our families and personal lives come first.
While leading tech organizations like RingCentral have set the tone by offering benefits like these, a culture of supporting working families requires buy-in from all levels of a business. When a new mother takes maternity leave, can she return without a setback to her career path? Are leaders cognizant and respectful of working mothers’ “off hours,” allowing them the freedom to solely focus on their families outside of work? The answers to these types of questions turn words into action.
Supporting What Matters
If SaaS companies and managers want to continue to attract the best talent, they must reevaluate their benefits to represent the cornerstone of the employee experience. It’s no secret that happy employees result in happy customers. Organizations can talk about their people-centric culture all they want, but it’s those who directly address their teams’ most pressing needs that will thrive.
How do you demonstrate to your employees that they are invaluable contributors whose time and efforts are deeply appreciated? By catering to what truly matters to them—the most fundamental aspects of what make our lives worthwhile.
We stand at an inflection point for women in the channel and the tech industry at large. We have an important choice to make: do we allow the turmoil of the past year to undo much of our hard work toward gender equality and parental benefits, or do we use our pandemic experience as a catalyst to rethink the way organizations support working mothers?
The answer is clear. When working mothers are supported, women succeed, and organizations thrive.
This Mother’s Day, recommitting to working women is the best gift we can give families and employees everywhere.
So, let’s lift some of the weight of the past year from their shoulders.
About the Author
As AVP of Global Partner Programs, Wendy Harmon leads RingCentral’s worldwide channel partner enablement initiatives. With a wealth of experience leading global on-premises and SaaS product and services teams, Wendy strives to create a balance between innovative risk and the need for discipline, standards and consistency. A proud sixth-generation Californian, Wendy has also lived in Colorado and the UK and graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder.