Stories of working mothers in COVID-19 have been powerful proofs of culture in 2020. Collectively, we add those stories to our Stories of the Year series. We’ll be sharing more compelling stories that reveal culture here on the blog and on our LinkedIn page throughout December. Follow along!
How do you communicate a culture of real empathy and flexibility for working parents? More importantly, how can you show a culture is empathetic and flexible to parents for the long haul?
It’s hard to prove long-term support for parents through boilerplate statements or a listing of company policies. Of course, family-friendly benefits are necessary and should be highlighted on your channels. But, after the parental leave is over or the vacation days are taken, working parents require more proof. They need to hear stories from other working parents expressing exactly how they were supported.
Proving a supportive culture is critical to every team member in a crisis. But the COVID-19 pandemic has combined several nightmares at once for working parents: closing of schools and daycares, working at home while caring for kids, managing virtual schooling, and an expected time frame of one-two calendar years of some level of this chaos.
How can you show a culture is up to supporting team members while they juggle all of those responsibilities, and that your culture can sustain that support for long?
Some cultures are failing mothers
Many workplaces can’t show that support because they aren’t giving it. In fact, work life in the pandemic is dramatically failing mothers and negatively impacting their careers. In September, women left the labor force at four times the rate of men.1 The reason? In September, over half of American school-aged children began distance learning from home, and something had to give. And, women’s jobs are more vulnerable: women’s jobs make up 39 percent of global employment but account for 54 percent of overall job losses as of May.2
On top of this, the working moms who are hanging in there are struggling, too. One in three mothers have considered leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers because of COVID-19 challenges.3
Supported mothers are sharing stories
Company culture can’t fix the pandemic nor the systemic, gender-biased problems that have caused women to bear the brunt. But at Stories Inc., we have observed that many cultures have stretched in response to the crisis, consciously increasing flexibility and empathy. Workplaces that lean in to accommodate their working mothers in a crisis, instead of requiring mothers to lean in so far they’ll break, are the gold standard. A deep appreciation and loyalty to their companies is the result, and they’ll gladly talk about the care they received.
If your culture is showing that empathy and flexibility, you have to capture it. Ask your team members who are running this marathon of parenting during COVID to share their stories. They can share their stories right from their home offices and distributed locations.
At Stories Inc., we’ve found storytellers are extremely comfortable having in-depth conversations virtually. And, we’re finding employees are so forthcoming in expressing how their workplaces have shown them support. Parents, especially, are full of heartfelt stories of how their companies have given them room for flexibility, and drawn them close with support for all that they’re dealing with.
Capture stories where parents are: working virtually
As a working mom myself, I sat down via Virtual Story Session with my teammates to share my own stories of parenting during COVID-19 and how I’ve been supported. I had so many stories of how the Stories Inc. culture has been flexible to my needs and accommodated my added parenting tasks in the pandemic. Here’s one lighthearted story that communicates the warm culture that’s supporting this working mom.
Virtual stories communicate inclusion
In other videos I’ve recorded for the company, I’ve been filmed in-person instead of remotely. But I love that my “working mom during a pandemic” stories are part of our growing virtual story session content library. This service and medium are ideal for capturing stories of support that we might not have captured before launching this offering.
We can now capture and share the stories of team members working from home, communicating the remote employee experience and distributed team culture. We’re no longer limited to filming the stories of team members who can make it to the office for our in-person filming days. And, until COVID-19 levels drop and childcare supports fully return, virtual story sessions are the best way to capture real proof that your culture is flexible for working parents.
Ask the moms on your team to share ways they’ve been supported. To give you a hand, we’ve gathered out best practices and tips for developing content remotely. And if any small people join those interviews, give them your warmest welcome!
Get started planning your virtual content and more with our guide and worksheet
Image courtesy Nenad Stojkovic via Flickr Creative Commons