For many women, particularly first time expectant mothers, as well as their employers, the transition from pregnancy to motherhood can often lead to a number of unexpected challenges and critically important decisions to make.
As first time expectant mothers, we have a general idea of what pregnancy and motherhood will be like. However, we do not yet have the lived experience of being pregnant or postpartum while working to advance our careers and also dealing with the physical and mental rigors of creating new life. This often leads to missed opportunities and unrealized professional advances, a negative both for us and our employers that can have far reaching consequences.
For instance, many of us lose a significant amount of lifetime income, and immediate income, inclusive of associated non-financial benefits, something often called the ‘motherhood penalty.’ This is not because we’re 'less than' when we're pregnant and new mothers, but because we (employees and employers) typically consider and plan for family and work life as wholly separate activities. They're really two sides of the same coin: parts of our identities that drive us to do our best and be our best and core parts of our identities that should be supported in an integrative way.
For employers, our loss is very much theirs too as they spend millions annually on recruiting efforts due to motherhood-driven turnover that stems from the increasingly reported seemingly insurmountable scheduling demands of family and career advancement.
For those of us who remain in the workplace, but lack the support needed to reach greater professional heights, both we and our employers suffer significant financial and non-financial losses.
Together, we can soar. We can close the gender pay gap. But first, we must endeavor.