September 2020 Newsletter

3 Ways Employers Can Support Women (and We Can Support Ourselves) Now

Tracy Dumas

It’s no secret that working women are facing unsustainable new challenges this year. Many working mothers have lost access to good childcare. Many working women without children are taking on new eldercare responsibilities. And even those without new caregiving demands are burdened by the fears and loneliness of these times.

“Everybody’s lives have been upended. And when your life is upended, it is going to affect your work,” work-life integration expert Tracy Dumas recently said.

Indeed, women with caretaking responsibilities have already begun to drop out of the workforce at alarming rates.

So, what can employers do to help retain quality talent in all the many fields in which women are contributing to the society and the economy—in some areas, at rates of 50 percent or more of the workforce? And what can we do to take better care of ourselves in these extraordinary times?

In an exclusive interview with the Conferences for Women, Dumas, an associate professor of management and human relations at Ohio State University, offered the following suggestions.


What employers can do:

  1. Figure out how you can help with childcare. “Organizations can help by either looking into establishing smaller facilities that employees could use for childcare or providing subsidies—some kind of financial assistance to help employees pay for childcare.”
  2. Focus on deliverables, not schedules. “Be attentive to the limitations employees have and give them a longer rope instead of enforcing a regular workday. Just pay attention to the deliverables and be flexible.”
  3. Think ahead to develop smarter policies and practices. When we are on the other side of this crisis, life will be different than it was before. So companies should start thinking now about what childcare, eldercare, and schooling might look like; how that will affect their employees; and how they can develop flexible, supportive policies and practices.

What you can do:

  1. Ask your company for childcare help. “If your organization hasn’t stepped up to provide child care but has shown a willingness to help, ask for smaller childcare facilities or subsidies.”
  2. Set some boundaries on work hours. “We switched into this new mode with no warning or preparation. And many of us haven’t been intentional about where and how to set boundaries about working at home.” Now, is the time to do that. Think about what you want your working hours to be – and when you can switch off and relax. “Research shows that having time to switch off allows you to come back to work more energized and better able to engage.”
  3. Be intentional about where in your house you work. “If you haven’t previously set aside a space for work at home, this may be a good time to do it. I just did this. Before I had no strategy. I was sitting on the couch for working and sitting on the couch for watching TV. Now, I’ve spruced up my home office a bit and, in general, created more of a boundary to feel more like I’m switching gears. I’m getting up and going to work now. And now I’m leaving my laptop in the office and going to watch TV. It may seem minor but feels different.”

“It is beneficial for anyone with any given task or responsibility to have the opportunity to unplug and recover. There is a whole body of research in organizational psychology on the benefits of recovery—of stepping away and unplugging and allowing yourself to be immersed in something totally different or just plain old rest.”

In other words, in a world in which so much is beyond our control, setting boundaries about when and where we work is something that is in our control that can help us keep our strength and resilience going through this marathon challenge.


IN OTHER NEWS

  • Want some timely virtual networking tips? Yai Vargas, founder of The Latinista, a national network of women and Latina professionals invested in professional development and career mobility, shares her thoughts on the latest episode of Women Amplified. Listen here.
  • Underserved young women are receiving financial and mentoring support this year as the first in their families to attend college—thanks to you and other members of the Conferences for Women community. Interested in helping? Learn more here.
  • Have you secured your ticket to the virtual 2020 Pennsylvania Conference for Women? If not, learn more here.
  • Don’t miss The Expert Q&A on Managing Change: A conversation with WSFS Senior Vice President Cindy Crompton Barone.

More from the September 2020 Newsletter


Creating Your Authentic Personal Brand In These Times – with Yai Vargas

Yai Vargas

COVID-19 has greatly changed the way we network—requiring us to be more innovative than ever, especially with our use of technology.

So, how should you think about building a strong personal brand in this new environment? In this episode, Yai Vargas, branding guru and founder and CEO of The Latinista, offers actionable ways to create an engaging elevator pitch, have a strong presence on Zoom, effectively self-promote and forge powerful relationships so that you can accurately convey your unique value to your advantage now!

 

+LAST CALL Take our listener survey! (We’re giving away free tickets to make it worth your while!)


“It’s interesting, growing up as a Latina, an immigrant to this country, I was always taught to be very humble. To be grateful that I have a job, to just keep my head down, work really hard and someone’s going to notice me and I’ll eventually get a raise and a promotion. Well, it doesn’t necessarily work that way in Corporate America as I found out. You have to keep reminding your boss about everything that you’ve been accomplishing throughout the year, because at the end of the year when your evaluation time comes up, your manager’s probably managing 10 or 15 others. They probably don’t know all of the programs you’ve run and excelled at. ”Yai Vargas


 

This Month’s Guest:

JAI VARGAS is a leading multicultural marketing expert with a niche in building marketing strategies and community engagement programs for Fortune 100 corporations seeking to develop programming among their diverse employee resource groups. She offers expert advice, training and development around executive presence, personal branding, LinkedIn and feminine leadership in the workplace. In addition to being a LinkedIn guru and networking ninja, Yai established The Latinista where she gathers and empowers Latina professionals in New York City, Miami and Chicago to upskill in career and leadership development via dynamic workshops. @layai

Our Host:

CELESTE HEADLEE is a communication and human nature expert, and an award-winning journalist. She is a professional speaker, and also the author of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, Heard Mentality and We Need to Talk. In her twenty-year career in public radio, she has been the executive producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio, and anchored programs including Tell Me MoreTalk of the NationAll Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also served as cohost of the national morning news show The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC, and anchored presidential coverage in 2012 for PBS World Channel. Headlee’s TEDx talk sharing ten ways to have a better conversation has over twenty million total views to date. @celesteheadlee


 

Additional Resources:


Virtual Conference Registration Now Open! Register Now
X

What you need to succeed in work and life now.

Smart, timely insights from inspiring women.
Delivered twice monthly to more than 150,000 subscribers.