This section is written in the form of a letter to corporate-wellness officers and human-resources executives. Please feel free to share it with the ones at your workplace!
To Whom It May Concern:
Hello! My name is Stephanie Woo. I currently work as an author, speaker, and childhood-development consultant. More on that later; for now, it will help you to know that, in a previous life, I was a successful entrepreneur, most recently launching a global greeting-cards business. I was also a ruthlessly results-oriented executive coach, specialising in the areas of project management and professional development.
It’s important that you know these things about me because it’s from these multiple perspectives–not to mention my day-to-day reality as a wife, mother, and woman–that I’ve noticed a problem. It’s a problem that may be negatively impacting your business–without anyone ever noticing it–in a rather dramatic manner. Or, if it’s noticed, it may not get brought out into the open (much less solved) for fear of sounding sexist, anti-family, or otherwise discriminatory.
Well, I’m going to say it out loud–or at least write it–because it’s real. Also because I believe there’s something that can be done to fix it.
In short, children can get in the way of employee performance–especially the performance of women, who usually act as primary care-givers.
Now let’s make some important clarifications…
I’m not talking about day-care issues; we already know about those; and, increasingly, new options are arising to ease this burden on families across the country.
I’m talking about the stress and strain of dealing with the developmental needs (and, sometimes, behavioral problems) of children–not to mention the stress and strain of being a new parent. Or learning how to adapt to the arrival of a first, second, third baby. Often resulting in sleep deprivation and excessive worry, these problems cannot be “left at home”–no matter how smart, industrious, responsible, or self-reliant the employee.
It gets worse. According to Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, more than 43% of highly qualified (not just “executive”) women leave their jobs after having their first child. Translation: When you hire a woman, there’s an almost 50/50 chance she’ll leave, vaporizing the investment you’ve made in training, developing, and supporting her.
The old-school approach to this harsh reality was to not hire women. Today, that sounds sexist, mean-spirited, short-sighted. But at least it fixes the problem, right?
Wrong. Because studies show that large corporations with women in key roles enjoy greater profitability than those that don’t. For example, a recent McKinsey & Company report revealed that companies with the largest number of women in executive power showed the highest equity returns. On the heels of this report, Morgan Stanley now has an investment-portfolio strategy with a stated preference for companies with at least three women on their boards of directors.
Why the people who are best at their jobs are often the hardest hit…
When people who pride themselves on the quality of their work have their first children, the effect can be overwhelming–not despite but rather because of their insistence upon the best of everything.
As with any executive initiative, a surplus of inputs (friends, parents, cultures, experts, internet searches, one’s own hunches and instincts, et cetera), paired with a deficit of methodological consistency, can be frazzling. Add to that the guilt of not being there–then multiply as necessary by one’s number of children–and it seems odd that more parents don’t quit their jobs more quickly or more often.
Finally, a woman-, family-, and business-friendly solution is here…
As a Montessori Family Consultant and the author of Raising Your Twins: Real Life Tips For Parenting With Ease, I currently coach hard-working parents in Austin, Los Angeles, New York City, Qatar, Canada, England, and other locations. These clients want something for their children (a great start in life) and something for themselves as well: the confidence that comes with success, knowledge, and work/life balance. As such, my work often often involves:
- Preparing pregnant and new mothers to come back to work after maternity leave
- Teaching parents the basics of childhood development and what’s needed at each stage
- Helping parents make decisions about their children that are smart, rational, and guilt-free
- Designing home environments that support the developmental stages of children from birth to the age of three years
- Addressing common sources of worry like eating, sleeping and discipline
- Advising parents how to hire, train, monitor, and evaluate nannies and other day-care options
When you choose to share my services with your employees as part of your corporate-wellness offerings, you may feel like you’re being nice and/or doing good. That’s terrific! But there will also be benefits to your own image, stability, and profitability–and that’s what makes it the responsible thing to do.
Just imagine how many different benefits you could bring to your organisation with just one new offering, benefits like…
- Boosting staff morale
- Reducing job turn-over
- Improving company loyalty
- Increasing career satisfaction
- Enhancing workplace diversity
- Minimizing new-hire efforts and expenditures
- Helping mothers on maternity leave come back to work with confidence–quickening re-integration
- Helping parents in your company remain focused, attentive, and effective on the job–perhaps more than before
In terms of delivery, there are four basic options, any one of which can be tailored to suit your organizational culture, gender balance, and real-world needs.
- One-on-one or small-group coaching (a format often favoured for key players and hard-to-replace personnel)
- Hour-long luncheons on hot topics, such as training nannies, how to choose pre-schools, minimizing separation anxiety in young children, et cetera
- Evening lectures for pregnant mothers, addressing how to prepare for newborn babies, as well as what to do to prepare selves, babies, homes, and families to come back to work smoothly and effortlessly
- A course, delivered over the course of six to eight weeks, including the latest research on neurological development as well as what parents need to do (and DON’T need to do) in order to give their children head starts in life
With thanks in advance for your attention and consideration…
Founder + Consultant
MONTESSORI ON THE DOUBLE