The economy keeps humming along, and with it, the labor market shows momentum month after month. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ January 2019 jobs report, for example, showed that employers added a total of 304,000 jobs, much higher than the originally forecasted 165,000.
To keep up with this relentless pace, companies of all shapes and sizes need the right talent. With a tight labor market, it’s more challenging to find. This means employers are looking beyond more obvious recruitment solutions and audiences. They’re pursuing segments of the labor force that may sometimes be overlooked. One group of workers that fits the bill on all sides: moms.
For the second post in my #MindTheTechTalentGap blog series, I shift my sights to a rapidly rising star on Chicago’s tech scene, The Mom Project. With a community of moms more than 100,000 strong, and more than 1,000 companies on board, The Mom Project is uniquely positioned to be part of the talent shortage solution. And a lot of people are taking notice. The organization recently landed $8 million in Series A funding and plans to launch the second iteration of its returnship program for new moms with BP.
Allison Robinson, CEO and founder of The Mom Project, offers three reasons why moms may be the answer for companies seeking top talent in a historically tight market, and how The Mom Project is bridging the gap.
Moms Bring the Hustle and Skills
Allison shared an eye-opening statistic that 43 percent of women step out of the workforce once they have children, which is a whole lot of talent. The reasons moms take career pauses, or even leave for good, can be traced to a multitude of institutional factors. These include, but are not limited to, the high cost of childcare, inflexible work arrangements, and a lack of supportive policies for families in our country.
It’s a huge missed opportunity because moms, simply put, are game-changers. Allison said that, “return-to-work moms offer a channel of unique, diverse talent…these women are educated, skilled, and, more than anything else, eager and excited to get back into the workforce.” In addition, many moms have years of experience, and can hit the ground running once they are placed into a role.
Moms Tend to be Overlooked
While many industries are facing a talent shortage, the demand for tech roles specifically is unmatched. In fact, Korn Ferry recently reported that the United States could lose out on $162 billion worth of revenues annually unless it finds more high-tech workers.
Allison emphasized that, “now is the time to seize the opportunities that surround us, and there are more women getting involved in the tech space every day.” Unfortunately, many tech companies still struggle to invest in women. It’s a loss on their part. The organizations that recognize the value that moms bring, and make a concerted effort to develop workplace cultures and policies to retain them, are more likely to thrive.
The Mom Project is working hard to educate hiring managers and leaders on the immense value that moms, women, and diverse talent bring to an organization.
“Studies prove how a diverse workforce can positively impact business bottom lines, employee retention and happiness, diversity initiatives, and employer branding—ultimately helping companies recruit top talent on an ongoing basis,” added Allison. The Mom Project team has found that the pushback isn’t generally about the value of moms and women; it is more about not understanding how to tap into this particular group.
Moms Want Flexibility; So Do Companies
Due to the lack of parental support systems at many organizations and across our society, many women are opting into flexible work arrangements. Contingent or freelance work, for example, offers them more control over their schedules.
As companies look to diversify and scale their own workforces using contingent workers, moms in particular can be an incredible source of experienced candidates that can help with project-based work, part-time roles, or contractor positions. These types of solutions are necessary as the workforce continues to evolve, the talent gap persists, and technology allows for non-traditional, outside-of-9-to-5, work setups.
As we #MindTheTechTalentGap, I’m excited to see how The Mom Project continues to grow and offer up creative talent solutions to the challenges a lot of companies face. At the same time, I’m a firm believer that more work needs to be done to encourage moms, and women in general, to take more risks, pursue roles outside of their comfort zone, and keep their skills fresh. It’s something I’m passionate about as a co-founder of ARA and ongoing mentor in the Chicago Innovation Women’s Mentoring Co-Op.
I’d love to hear your feedback—whether you’re a mom, looking to hire moms, or experiencing a talent shortage. Please engage using #MindTheTechTalentGap and let’s continue the conversation.