8 March 2022
On a recent morning, I awoke to the bad news no working mother wants to hear – you do not have childcare today. In a minor panic, I assessed the situation: my children were not yet dressed or fed, their teeth and their hair were not yet brushed, and only minutes remained until I needed to be screen ready for an important client pitch.
While this news would cause chaos in many households, in mine, I considered it a victory. My husband was able to bribe my children to stay quiet during my call, and his boss was only a bit miffed when he arrived late to work. Most importantly, though, my daughters got to see mommy kick butt (we won the proposal) and see their dad step up like a boss (of the apartment).
It is well documented and absolutely unacceptable that working mothers often face a financial penalty for choosing to help build the next generation’s labor pool. Although the recent increase in work from home has allowed pregnant women to behave more like fathers-to-be, the biggest obstacle to economic prosperity as a mother remains – the freedom to just do our jobs.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. My small triumph should not stand alone – children benefit from seeing their dads step in as the primary caregiver and their moms step out to pursue their own ambitions. We just need reliable and affordable childcare, so we can contribute and fully participate in the economy: do our jobs, earn income, spend money and pay taxes. Everyone stands to gain.
In his recent letter to CEOs, Blackrock’s CEO, Larry Fink, reminds business leaders to uphold their fiduciary responsibility to stakeholders to create more sustainable businesses. To this end, my team supports our clients to mitigate existing and future risks and capitalize on available opportunities to create more successful businesses. It is unfortunate that during our initial conversations, strategies to maximize the company’s most valuable asset – its human capital – are often not front of mind.
Perhaps Mr. Fink has had a similar experience to me and can fully appreciate the stress, frustration that comes with a childcare letdown. More likely though, he has seen too many mothers fall short of their potential simply because they could not relinquish their domestic duties during their working hours. Regardless of our lived experience, though, we agree that it is not “woke” to talk about the universal need for affordable childcare, it just makes smart business sense.