“Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.”
– Barbara Kingsolver
Motherhood is an honor and an irreplaceable role. It is the most intrinsic chapter of a woman’s life, one that doesn’t require education to fall gracefully into. The instincts come naturally to women, brought about by the overflowing of love for the beings in their care.
And while the role of mothers has always remained rooted in nurturing children and taking care of the home, over time more and more women have found themselves joining the workforce, be it for career aspirations or to augment the family income.
For mothers who choose to pursue their careers, studies show that motherhood provides a good training ground to develop skills that are advantageous in the workplace. 1
For one, mothers tend to have well-honed soft skills and emotional intelligence. Having the experience of empathizing with a child’s emotions while balancing personal challenges allow mothers an acute sense of empathy and compassion, which can prove useful when dealing with colleagues or stakeholders.
Mothers are also experts at multitasking and time management, skills that they put to good use practically on a daily basis. To be able to juggle the demands of work and home is a big undertaking, but even more so when they have to divide their precious time in between. Yet, working mothers face this challenge and ace it consistently. Insights from LinkedIn point that Time Management is one of the most sought-after skills by companies in recent years. 2
“My 8 year-old daughter is learning the value of work and managing time properly. When I am busy working, she does activities that we have both planned ahead – reading, drawing and Math drills, to provide her additional learning. She understands more now that there’s a time to play and time to work. She is also becoming more independent and helps in doing simple chores to keep things tidy.”
-Kristina Lalaine Rito, Specialist, Client Services, S&P Global Philippines
“It’s a constant balancing act to make sure I deliver at work, as well as spend quality time with my family. To help in the juggling act, I rely heavily on my calendar – reserving time so I can be present for my children and family events and also reserving time to get work done.”
-Irma Roosmala Dewi, Business Development Director, Teleperformance Indonesia
Mothers are also flexible, creative and entrepreneurial. They are open to feedback and do not hold back on sharing their own opinions, perspective and advise. Being used to an environment of unpredictability usually means they are not afraid to try something and fail. They offer support where needed and can be counted on to lead and deliver.
Given all these, it goes without saying that being a working mother is not easy. As women join the workforce, children are often left in the care of other family members or childcare centres while their mothers are at work. 3
The advent of the global Covid-19 pandemic added more challenges to this demographic. As companies transition to the hybrid workplace, working mothers have been left in the lurch, unable to find a delineation between work and home. They now have to support their families physically, mentally and emotionally within the confines of their shared space, amongst the many other hats that they had to wear. Because of this, some had to make the difficult decision to let go of their careers completely, while others had to lean on their spouses or extended family members for support. Without this much-needed lifeline from family members, working moms have been experiencing burnout, anxiety and stress. 4
“It’s really a challenge to balance work and household chores especially when you have a pre-schooler who is also in need of attention and assistance. There are times I feel so exhausted and want to sleep after a long day but I still need to be attentive and enthusiastic for my meetings at night.”
-Lara Denice Cabagnot, Analyst, Employee Security Controls, Western Union AROC
Great Place to Work® is humbled to be among companies who look into these needs and address them holistically. These organizations opened various channels such as S&P Global’s ParentNet, for employees to draw support not just from their leaders but their colleagues as well.
“Despite being a team lead, my colleagues have given me so much understanding not just in the current virtual workplace, but even over the past years. I can speak up and be open about my concerns, suggestions and challenges at work to our President, People Partners and Line Managers during our regular catch-ups. We have channels to be heard as we practice an open door policy. “
-Mildred Semodio, Team Leader, Data/Content Management, S&P Global Philippines
We reached out to employees of GPTW-Certified™ companies to ask working mothers if they felt supported and how so, and these are what they had to share:
“Aside from company policies like allowing a 40-minute break for breastfeeding, what I am grateful for is how Western Union normalized flexibility in the workplace. Work-life balance may be very hard to achieve for working moms, but working for a company that encourages balance really helps a lot. It is also a great reminder for everyone that a sustainable pace of work is essential.”
-Francheska Manuel, Supervisor Platform Change & Knowledge Management, Western Union AROC (Francheska’s photo)
“It is fantastic to be comparing notes with working parents across the globe; we all have different and yet similar challenges. Our colleagues are understanding and appreciative of the situation we are in.”
-Gina Si, Senior Manager, Commercial Operations, S&P Global Philippines
“I definitely found the support from my colleagues. We were all facing different challenges and we were there for each other. We found ourselves having conversations, acknowledging the challenges, exchanging experiences, providing support and encouragement and extending help as needed. There is also a community of strong women at Sun Life, and that community is a huge source of inspiration.
Sun Life has become such a pillar of support for its employees throughout this time. I am very grateful to be a part of an organization that prioritizes the welfare and wellness of its employees. As a mom, I have felt and continue to feel the immense support and encouragement. I would like to thank my peers, my colleagues, the community of Bright Women and my leaders at Sun Life for always making a working mom’s life brighter under the Sun.”
-Crissy Torres-Gomez, Director, ASCP Operations, Sun Life Philippines
I am grateful to work for a company that allows me the flexibility to be a productive team member at work and at home.
-Irma Roosmala Dewi, Business Development Director, Teleperformance Indonesia
For these very fortunate mothers, their companies gave them not just psychological and and emotional support, but a foundation and a community from where they can thrive and adapt to the new ways of working.
GPTW is also one with these companies in providing this nurturing environment for mothers. In the words of our very own Kristi-Ann Ong, who recently became a mom in 2020:
“It really does take a village to raise a child and I am so blessed to be in a company that supports and understands the joys and the struggles.
Working from home truly benefits me as a first time mom. I am able to watch my baby grow and at the same time work full time. My colleagues trust that I am able to deliver quality work while working from home.
I am so grateful for all the care and support I have received from my manager and colleagues.
When I was deliberating on whether to cut short my maternity leave and go back to work earlier, it was my manager that advised me to enjoy motherhood first and come back to work later. It was the best advice ever!
I have also received surprise “how are you” messages and even a care package all the way from Australia!”
-Kristi-Ann Ong, Client Solutions, Great Place to Work® Australia
To this day and age, even as workplaces have evolved, it is paramount to look into the emotional and psychological health of all its members, especially working mothers. In as much as they contribute to the diversity and culture of the organization, companies must work to enrich their lives and allow them to thrive given their new set of challenges.
Furthermore, hiring moms is a benefit to families and communities as a whole. They act as positive ‘role models’ to the young, being perfect examples for grit, determination and accomplishment. They also tend to raise more independent and empowered children, who are willing to take on responsibilities and extend help where necessary. 5
“When I think about teaching my children the value of hard work, money, pursuing what you are passionate about, and continuously learning and achieving, I always cite my career journey as an example. I also believe this has taught them to appreciate what they have – because they know they’d have to study hard to be able to find a great job that will allow them to live their lives comfortably.”
-Jen Lozano, People Partner, S&P Global Philippines
Finally, we share the inspiration of our own Managing Director for GPTW Asean, Joni Ong, who has successfully raised five children of her own, and continues to advocate for education and building great workplaces. Here she imparts her nuggets of wisdom for all working mothers:
“Author Elizabeth Stone once said, “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
Indeed, that is what working mothers do – giving your all to the business at hand while keeping a cool head about your heart being in a million places wherever your child is! I did just that, raising 5 children born within 6 years of each other. The wonderful thing about their close age gap is that they have constant playmates and the elder tend to help guide the younger in life skills, indirectly gifting me more time to complete my work tasks. Paradoxically, having many children opened up more opportunities for me to pursue work interests. But critical to this is having amazing bosses who have trusted and guided me, allowing me the space and time to pursue work success and family happiness. Organizations that recognize women who want it all, do well. We will contribute our best to the business, despite having our hearts walking outside our bodies for the most part of everyday!
I am delighted to share that the latest additions to my family have made me a very happy glam-ma!”
-Joni Ong, Managing Director, Great Place to Work® ASEAN/ANZ
To all Mothers and the people who rally behind them, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
Xyris loves to look at life through a broader lens. She is a certified bookworm, occasional writer, intrepid traveler and design enthusiast. She likes to create and breathe vibrancy to things. When not organizing events, she is a content contributor for GPTW PH and likewise handles corporate matters. A happy wife and a doting mom, she finds joy in unique experiences and believes that everyone has the potential for greatness.