Maintaining a work-life balance can be a slippery slope to navigate, especially as a worker in the United States.
That’s because the U.S. is widely considered to be the most overworked nation out of all the world’s major economies (including Japan — really), and balance hasn’t traditionally been culturally prized or enabled by many employers. Instead, if we Americans want to live full, well-rounded lives, we’re pressured to do it all — and that expectation is one that adversely affects working moms, in particular. Women who want to have both a family and a successful career are held to literally superhuman standards, as many go home from a full day of work only to start their “second shift” — or, a disproportionate amount of the family’s homemaking and child-rearing duties. For these women, the ideal of a balanced life can feel totally inaccessible, contributing to a rise in gendered stress in the U.S.
Thankfully, a shift in our pro-workaholic narrative is underway. As research consistently proves that workers who have flexibility are actually the most productive (and happiest), more and more companies are beginning to promote work-life balance in an effort to attract and retain the best and brightest talent. It’s an arrangement that benefits all parties, but perhaps noone more so than America’s beleaguered working moms, and it can be found at these five amazing companies who are prioritizing balance in big ways (and hiring now!):
Commended by one Fairygodboss user for their “flexible work arrangements,” Fitch Ratings, a global leader in credit ratings and research, takes pride in the working mothers of their workforce. In fact, their desire to cultivate a culture where women aren’t forced to frantically juggle work and family life led them to implement a returnship program for mothers who, after taking some time off work, are ready to set their financial services careers back in motion. As explained the program’s managing director, Jessalynn Moro: “There is an underutilized talent pool of women who, after stepping back from their career for family commitments or other personal reasons, want to get back to work and are looking for a supportive environment that sets them up for success.” For working moms (and women in general), support and camaraderie is key, and both are certainly evident in the practices of Fitch.
An all-too-common issue working moms face is falling into the trap of being mommy-tracked by employers – i.e., being given less opportunities for advancement and getting judged more harshly after having children. This, when research proves that working moms are just as ambitious as women without kids. Thankfully, you won’t find this to be an issue at Target. The flexibility is there if you want it, with one Fairygodboss user noting there are “lots of young families, so they accommodate.” But if you aren’t looking to scale your career trajectory back after having kids, you needn’t worry — another user called Target a “great place for working mothers” who are seeking “advancement opportunities.” After all, shouldn’t women be empowered to define what a “balanced life” means for themselves?
Communications company Ericsson is consistently rated by Fairygodboss users as surpassing industry standards for work-life balance and family friendliness. Eighty-five percent of users say Ericsson has family-friendly hours (compared to an industry average of 47 percent), and users score the family friendliness of their policies as more than twice as good as the industry average. One anonymous user explained that they “really feel I can work remotely and am not judged at all for doing so,” while another highlighted the company’s “great Swedish values” (they’re headquartered in Stockholm). Considering Sweden is regularly hailed as one of the most family- and balance-friendly countries in the world, having instituted a six-hour work day in 2015, that’s an association we’re all in favor of!
There’s a lot to be said for being a woman, mother or not, at Square, where 75 percent of employees report to one of four female executives. Ever since its 2009 founding, the tech company has positioned itself as an archetype for what a truly gender-inclusive workplace looks like, and that extends to their policies and benefits impacting working mothers, too. Sixteen weeks of paid maternity and paternity leave are offered to new parents, meaning that Square supports the idea from day one of a child’s life that mothers shouldn’t bear an unequal share of caretaking duties. Another major perk? Unlimited paid time off — you read that right — which translates to the flexibility you need to live your best life as a kickass employee who’s also, y’know, a human being.
Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, is well aware that without a greater representation of women in STEM, the U.S. is prone to losing its position as a global tech leader. Under his leadership, the company is making strides toward becoming a beacon of diversity and inclusivity within Silicon Valley, and that extends to promoting family-friendly policies, too. One Fairygodboss user reported being “pleasantly surprised” by her experience at Apple, given the work culture and hours commonly associated with the tech world: “I feel like Apple is a much better environment than the advertising agency I left to come here,” she wrote. “They treat you with more respect, have more family-friendly policies, and the hours are such that you can have a life outside of work.” Another Fairygodboss user and Apple employee commented that “there are a lot of people with kids here, so everyone is very understanding about needing time off for doctor visits, school functions, etc.”
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