Women Need a Seat at the Table and Equal Pay. Full Stop.
Before Amy Nelson founded The Riveter—a collaborative workspace and network for working women—she was a successful corporate lawyer. But when she became pregnant with her first child in 2014, she noticed a change in how others viewed her. Corporate law is a male-dominated profession where Nelson felt she “couldn’t make an equal dollar.” She also knew that mothers experience even greater pay discrimination than other women. So she set out to build what she needed: “a place to find workspaces, resources and a community that looks like me and is inclusive of all.” Nelson—who now has four daughters—is working hard to create a different world for working women. “I want a future where no one asks my daughters how they ‘do it all,’” says Nelson. “And I want them to be paid equally for equal work.” Here, Nelson shares her tips for how working mothers—and their employers—can change the world of work for the better.
Leverage the village
The juggle is real for moms—job responsibilities, childcare, household chores. Nelson likes to remind people that women shouldn’t be in charge of keeping all the balls in the air. She credits her husband, family, and nanny for helping make it possible for her to build and lead a new venture. “It truly takes a village for me to be able to grow my company while growing humans,” she says. “Some days it feels impossibly hard and I know I could not do it all without the huge team we’ve built.”
Grow your mom tribe
Day-to-day commitments and to-dos can leave moms feeling burned out and isolated. So make time to connect with other moms wherever you can find them—in the office, on the kids’ soccer field, at the park. “There’s tremendous solidarity being a working mother, so take the time to cultivate relationships where you can and lean into them when you need support,” says Nelson.
Lose the “mom-guilt”
American moms today have more choices than any other time in history. Celebrate that. Make the choices that are right for you and your family—without apologizing. Nelson encourages women to pursue a career and a family if that’s what they want. “Men have never been asked to make a choice between the two,” says Nelson. “We live in a world where mothers and leaders are not seen in the same light, but they can (and should) be.”
Hire and promote women
If employers want to do a better job supporting women, “the single best thing [they] can do,” says Nelson, “is hire and promote women. All women. Full stop.” The next steps: pay equally, provide paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers, offer flexible work schedules, and access to adequate and clean lactation spaces for breastfeeding women. It starts with being inclusive in the first place, says Nelson. “Women need to be, and should be, invited to the table from day one.”
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