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The Working Mother Report


 Working Mother Media’s groundbreaking new research What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report is the latest chapter in the Working Mother 100 Best Companies’ 25-year history of champion- ing culture change. This in-depth and insightful report challenges common-held beliefs about work- ing mothers, their managers, their partners and their families — all with the ultimate goal of making all employers more family friendly. Learn about the Working Mother Media Research Institute at


Dear Friends,

I am proud to present the results of our landmark study, What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report, a national survey of working moms, women, stay-at-home moms, working fathers and men that marks the 25th anniversary of the Working Mother 100 Best Companies. The study, which was designed to focus attention on work-life and the advancement of women, reveals previously unknown attitudes and ideas about how women feel about their careers, men’s views of working mothers, workplace flexibil- ity, the current state of gender roles, and what we all want to get out of work.

The survey findings were nothing short of astonishing. For instance, we learned that moms who view work as a career feel more satisfied, healthy, and fulfilled on almost every measure — on both the work and home front — than moms who say they work for primarily financial reasons… regardless of their salary level. We also learned that in some cases, male managers have a more favorable view of working mothers than the working mothers themselves.

This report would not have been possible without the support of our three sponsors: Ernst & Young, IBM and Procter & Gamble. We thank these companies for their commitment to supporting research that benefits all working mothers nationwide.

We invite you to study this Working Mother Report for an abundance of in-depth revelations regarding the attitudes, opinions, challenges, and motivations affecting working moms.


Carol Evans


Working Mother Media


At Ernst & Young, we are thrilled to be part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the Working Mother 100 Best Companies list. Working Mother Media’s role in raising awareness of the tremendous source of talent working mothers represent cannot be overstated. It continues to shine a bright light on the kind of culture working mothers and families need in order to thrive, and to advocate for the tools and benefits leading employers leverage to attract, retain and develop the careers of working mothers. This report reflects the tremendous progress working mothers and top employers have made in growing the careers of talented women. We know that success emanates from explicit, having using the right CPA exam course, career development opportunities, great role models, the ability to work flexibly and effective teaming. We know that success also hinges on the support that comes from working mothers’ colleagues. We thank Working Mother Media for its leadership role in championing the talent pool of working mothers, and for inviting Ernst &Young to take part in this insightful research and helping women prepare for the CPA exam..

Billie Williamson,

Americas Inclusiveness Officer

Ernst & Young

In today’s business environment, employees seek jobs that not only offer financial security, but also have autonomy, meaning and the opportunity for development and advancement. What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report further confirms that flexibility is indeed a competitive business tool in the new culture of work. IBM is sponsoring this study because it’s an important workplace issue, and we salute each company whose culture embraces flexible work.

Elizabeth J. Smith

IBM General Manager, Global Offering Management & Development IBM Global Technology Services

Touching and improving the lives of moms is at the core of what we do at P&G. That is why we support both Working Mother and the What Moms Think: The Work- ing Mother Report, which provides tremendous insights into the desires of working moms. By further understanding the needs of working mothers, we can create a flexible and inclusive culture that fits their lifestyles. We value our partnership with Working Mother and want to congratulate them on the 25th anniversary of the Working Mother 100 Best Companies.

Jeffery Smith

Associate Director, Global Diversity & Inclusion

The Procter & Gamble Company

What Moms Think:

The Working Mother Report

The way women view their work lives has enormous impact on their attitudes about work and life. In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Working Mother 100 Best Companies, this special national study takes an in-depth look at the challenges still facing working moms, how moms feel about their lives — and what men still don’t understand about working mothers.


A quarter century ago, working mothers found their collective voice. It came by way of the first annual survey to identify the best companies for working moms.The Working Mother 100 Best Companies has since become the most widely-known arbiter of family-friendly workplaces. Companies that earn a spot on this prestigious list demonstrate deep commitment to the career success of working mothers.

In 1986, Working Mother magazine launched its benchmark of family- friendly companies.The annual Best Companies list steadily brought greater attention to the positive impact working mothers were having in the workforce. The list, which grew to 100 in 1992, produced increasing competition for working mothers as a talent source. Thus began a race to be the best in the eyes of working mothers.

Twenty-five years later, millions of working moms have moved from the restroom to the private lactation room.They’ve narrowed the wage gap. They’ve achieved the flexibility at work

that brings sanity and enjoyment to their home lives. More new moms get more direct support from their employ- ers (along with more time off to be a new mom). Paid maternity leave has extended to paid paternity leave for new dads along the way.And while the glass ceiling isn’t yet shattered, it certainly has a lot more cracks in it.

The policies of organizations on the Working Mother 100 Best Companies have had a profound impact on millions of workers.This initiative continues to set the bar for companies that strive to be world-class employers in the minds of working families.

To acknowledge the 25th anniversary of the Working Mother 100 Best Com- panies, the Working Mother Research Institute fielded a different kind of sur- vey.We, of course, wanted to know how working moms see things today. But we also wanted the view from the people they work with: working women with- out kids, male colleagues (fathers and not), and their managers.With support from Ernst &Young, IBM and Procter & Gamble, we reached more than 4,600

women and men nationwide.We surveyed perceptions of and about working mothers on a range of issues that surround both work and family life.

Some of our findings will surprise you.They will also educate you on the variety of views when it comes to working mothers.And it will give you useful insight to help provide the best environment for working mothers, so they can provide their best for your company.


The attitude difference

“Attitude determines altitude.” – Anonymous

The way women view their employ- ment situation has enormous implica- tions for their attitudes about work and life.When women self-identify them- selves as having a career, they report being more satisfied and feeling more positive in every area.

For example, their satisfaction with career prospects is twice as high as women who say they just work for the money.They are also much more likely to feel a match between their job interests and the work they do.

Career-oriented working mothers are also more satisfied with their decision to work, the opportunity they have to develop skills, the level of respect they perceive at work, and the support they get from their managers in meeting family and home demands.

This positive attitude extends to family matters, too. Career-oriented women feel more respected at home and say their spouses are more helpful in caring for children and managing the household.They also feel more positive about their childcare arrangements. Plus, they are more likely to report feeling healthy, that their life is in balance and that their work fulfills a higher purpose than “just making money.”

The downside for career-oriented mothers is that they are more likely to feel they can’t get away from work, and more likely to think that managers and co-workers question their commitment.

Career- oriented women feel more respected at home and say their spouses are more helpful.

1Urban Institute. The Business Case for Flexible Work Arrangements. 2010.

2See, for example, Women on Business. The Business Case for Building Flexible Work Cultures-Series Part II. October 2010; and Sylvia Ann Hewlett for Harvard Business Review. In Hard Times, Re-Commit to Flex Time. October 2009.

(As it turns out, moms don’t need to sweat the perceptions of working fathers and male managers; more on this later.)

So what contributes to a woman labeling her work as a career versus a job?You might surmise that higher-paid women all see themselves as having

a career. But more than half of these career-oriented moms earn less than $50,000.The belief in one’s career seems to come from common opportunities among women to grow and advance, to feel supported and respected, and to be- lieve that work fulfills a more meaning- ful purpose than just making money.



Positive attitudes can yield positive business outcomes

Research confirms the connection between employee attitudes and business success.The Corporate Leadership Council, for example, found that every

10percent improvement in commit- ment can increase an employee’s level of discretionary effort by 6 percent and performance by 2 percent.1 Field research and case studies abound of employers reaping benefits including improved attraction and retention, greater productivity, reduced absentee-

ism and improved customer service and satisfaction.2

Certainly, having a good attitude going into any type of work benefits both the employer and the employed. But what is it that successful companies do to nurture a positive attitude among working mothers whose lives can be stressful?

Our survey shows that building a sense that a woman’s work is more than just a job is critical. It doesn’t so much matter if the job is cashier at a retail store or sales executive for a global tech company.What matters is that the working mom sees that her employment offers her:

Career prospects

Opportunities to develop skills

Support from managers in meeting home and family demands

Respect for her contributions

The sense that her work fulfills a higher purpose

Successful employers offer clear information on job-progression opportunities and the needed training to prepare employees to advance their careers. Managers who model behavior that supports life outside of work will see it reflected among their teams.

A feedback-rich culture helps people

Source: What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report



Career-oriented working moms

Percentage marking 4 or 5 (Very Frequently) on Frequency scale

Source: What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report

recognize when their contributions are valued and when there are things that could be improved.

It’s not just a job

You might wonder how positions that could otherwise be seen as “just jobs” can provide a sense of fulfilling a higher purpose. It doesn’t have to come from the title or position. It can come from working for an organization that is involved in its local community or one that is known for its commitment to corporate responsibility. It can come from working for an organization whose “brand” is known and respected.

It can also come from actively engag- ing employees in making important business decisions. For example,Work- ing Mother 100 Best Company Tri- Health, a Cincinnati-based healthcare system, uses “Shared Leadership Com- mittees” to engage front-line nurses

in evaluating processes and proposing efficient alternatives. Says one nurse on the committee,“Being a part of [the committee] gives me the knowledge that I do have the power to make a dif- ference. … We have a voice, and there are many things we can change.”



Percentage tending to or strongly agreeing

Women who have been in the workforce for 20+ years are least likely to agree

Men who have been in the workforce less than 15 years views are compatible with women of the same age

Men working longer than 15 years views are most disconnected from women’s

Source: What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report


Screening for attitude is an important factor in the hiring process. Beyond that, having the right elements in place to make a job feel like a career (even when it might not seem to be in others’ minds) can go a long way in engaging working mothers.


Men see moms favorably — if they are dads

It’s probably no big surprise that work- ing fathers have favorable perceptions about the contributions of working mothers. It’s logical that the shared experience of raising children would have an impact on their views.

But what about working men who aren’t fathers? Their perceptions are far less favorable than those of men with kids. Compared to fathers, men without children rate working mothers as far less likely to:

Be committed to career advancement

Take on additional work

Be committed to job responsibilities

Be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done

Take stretch assignments

Reliably deliver quality work

Be prepared for promotion

Working women with no children share some of their male counterparts’ harsher views of working mothers. Their perceptions are similar than men with no kids on working mothers’ likelihood to take on additional work, take stretch assignments and be committed to career advancement.

These judgments are of the kind working moms dread. Our survey shows that career-oriented working mothers fear their colleagues and managers question their commitment.

But they don’t have the whole story.

The male manager: an exceptional ally

Among all groups surveyed, male man- agers — regardless of whether they have

children — hold the most favorable perceptions of working mothers. On several items, they hold more positive perceptions than even working mothers do. For example, more male managers agree that working moms:

Are likely to take on additional work (+6%)

Will travel for work (+16%)

Take stretch assignments (+10%)

Are committed to career advancement (+8%)

Would relocate if called on to do so (+15%)

The views of male managers with children are more positive than those of male non-managers without children, and are also more positive than work- ing men generally. But why are their perceptions more positive than working mothers’ own perceptions? It’s possible that working mothers’ responses reflect their preferences versus their likelihood of making certain contributions. So, while working mothers may be willing to travel or consider relocating, they may prefer not to. In the same vein, working mothers may only take on positions that require things like travel or relocation if they are definitely willing to do it.

While male managers may be strong workplace advocates for working mothers, their social views stand in stark contrast. For example, 51 percent feel that one parent should stay at home to care for children. However, with today’s economic realities and preferences, just one in five of today’s families meets this mold.3

more than three quarters feel satisfied with their children’s prospects.

Perhaps not surprisingly, male manag- ers also see great strides in the availabili- ty of equal opportunity for women over the last 25 years. Seventy-three percent of them believe this, but only 58 percent of women agree with them.



A new inclusiveness target? When comparing men’s attitudes to- ward working mothers, it’s reasonable to assume that male managers are in a better position than others to assess a working mother’s contributions. So it isn’t a big surprise that male managers hold positive regard for working moth- ers. Indeed, it is commendable that they can set aside their more traditional so- cial notions to equitably assess working mothers’ true performance. Still, while not necessarily surprising, the percep- tion gap between male managers and all others is impressive.

These findings suggest that employer efforts at building acceptance and ap- preciation of working mothers at the manager level are succeeding. It may be time to direct concerted effort toward people without children. Diversity and inclusiveness training could include specific reference to unintended biases people without children may hold. It may be worthwhile to include the message that younger childless workers today may be the working mothers and fathers of tomorrow.

While male managers may be strong workplace advocates for working mothers, their social views stand in stark contrast.

For example, 51% of male managers feel that one parent should stay at home to care for children.

Forty-three percent of male managers believe that a mother’s work outside the home has a negative effect on her rela- tionships with her children. Most wom- en we surveyed, and a large body of re- search, would disagree. In fact, statistical and anecdotal evidence shows a strong beneficial effect on working mothers’ relationships with their children.The benefits to the kids of working mothers extend to academic performance and social adjustment, as well.4 We see this reflected in working mothers’ positive attitudes about their children’s future;

The role of role models

Another remedy to the negative perceptions held by working mothers’ colleagues is the existence of positive role models. It’s not enough to hang posters that introduce “great work- ing moms” around offices. Companies can actively engage women to support one another — whether or not they are working moms, through existing women’s networks.

Exposure to great working moms who are committed to their careers and

3Heather Boushey and Ann O’Leary. A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything. Executive Summary to the Shriver Report. 2010.

4See Tracey Reynolds, Claire Callender and Rosalind Edwards, The Impact of Mothers’ Employment on Family Relationships, 2003; American Academy of Pediatrics, Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 2005; Lois Wladis Hoffman, The Effects of Mother’s Employment on the Family and the Child, 1998.

When flexibility is positioned as a working mother issue, it can wreak havoc on employee attitudes.

their families will help wear away biases of perception.

Flexibility for all

When flexibility is positioned as a working mother issue, it can wreak havoc on employee attitudes. Colleagues may see working mothers as having spe- cial status, and feel they are left to pick up the slack.“Developing a culture of ‘flexibility for all’ has a positive impact on perceptions of fairness,” says

Billie Williamson,Americas inclusive- ness officer at Working Mother 100 Best Company Ernst &Young, the global professional services firm.“It’s a problem when one group of employees is seen as having something others don’t. So when everyone can work flexibly when needed, the tension goes away.”

The effectiveness of teaming Effective teaming is also important in building positive relationships and perceptions.When teams work together to determine how best to serve their clients or customers, everyone has input in how the work is going to get done. Teams can identify one another’s needs for flexibility and work around them together.

Working Mother 100 Best Company First National Bank, based in Memphis, introduced a new manager assimilation program in 2009 that focuses on effec- tive teaming.Through one- to two-day sessions, teams provide the new manager with information about themselves and the work they do, and learn about each others’ operating styles and expectations.

People on effective teams better understand each other as individuals and are better able to recognize each other’s contributions.


“We’re really in the middle of something like an industrial revolution. But it’s a work-time revolution.”

— Phyllis Moen, Ph.D

Sociologist, University of Minnesota

Then vs. now

Workplace flexibility has its roots in the movement to attract and retain talented working mothers. But through the years, forward-thinking employers have come to realize the role flexibility can play in the lives of all employees.The growth of two-earner household is just one of sev- eral reasons flexibility has moved from a “nice to have” to a necessity for millions of workers — whether male or female, parents or not.The youngest generation in the workforce considers flexibility a key element of their job satisfaction.

“Companies understand the challenges that their employees face in finding work-life balance,” says Jeffery Smith,As- sociate Director of Global Diversity and Inclusion at Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble, another Working Mother 100 Best Company.“That is why we have to be diligent in offering flexible programs to help manage their lifestyle while meeting the business need.”

Among top employers, the notion of flexibility as a formal work arrangement has given way to more of a “flexibility for all” mentality. Of course, formal flexible work arrangements continue to support working mothers and others who need the consistency of a regular schedule or the option of telework.

At Working Mother 100 Best Com- pany General Mills, based in Minne- apolis, there is no stigma if an employee takes a child to the doctor at 3 p.m. or needs to come in late one morning.As long as performance is high, employ- ees are trusted to use good judgment managing time.

Our survey shows that a majority of men and women find the notion of flexible work attractive. But less than half (and fewer working mothers than fathers) say that their kind of work al- lows for flexibility in where and when it’s conducted.

But the economic downturn may end up having a positive effect on flexibility policies.A recent Families and Work Institute study of the recession’s impact on employers found that 81 percent

of companies retained the workplace flexibility options in place prior to the recession.5 Interestingly, another 13

percent increased flexibility.6 The latter group has employed flexibility as a cost-cutting measure (for example, compressed workweeks to reduce operating costs).We may find that new flexibility options remain following the economic recovery.

The jury is out on what actual im- pact, if any, working flexibly has on ca­ reer advancement. In our survey, we see a difference of opinion between men and women on the subject. Seventy- four percent of men whose work allows for flexibility say it has had a positive impact on their career advancement­. Just 58 percent of women agree.

Flex works for dads who work Working fathers are more likely than working mothers to find flexibility attractive (77% vs. 67%) when their work allows for it.Working fathers are also slightly more likely to report they can take time off when they need to.

These differences may have to do with dissimilar experiences men and women have when it comes to working flexibly.A working mother may sense tension (real or perceived) when taking time out of the workday for her daughter’s dental appointment. But when a father leaves early to coach his son’s baseball team, his co-workers may simply think he’s a devoted dad.

The tension working mothers feel when they flex isn’t all perception.As noted earlier, men and women without children are more likely to doubt the abilities and commitment of working mothers.

I flex. Therefore I am.

The opportunity to work flexibly has a strong and positive impact on employee attitudes. Eighty-one percent of those whose work allows for flexibility feel that it positively affects their produc- tivity. It also has a positive impact on employee morale, commitment to the organization, and overall job satisfaction. IBM sees a positive impact not just on attitudes, but on business outcomes. “Increased flexibility helps both male and female employees have more options, as they integrate their work

and personal needs,” explains Patricia Lewis, who serves as vice president, Diversity and Employee Experience at the global information technology company, which is a 25-year Working Mother 100 Best Company.“Flexibil- ity at IBM is considered a competitive business tool, which enables us to attract and retain critical talent, while also in- creasing effectiveness and productivity.”

ACorporateVoices for Working Fami- lies survey revealed that senior execu- tives recognize the positive impact of workplace flexibility. By a ratio of 9-to-1, executives report that flexible work strat- egies have a positive effect on helping organizations reach business goals.7



Diversity demands flexibility While flexibility started out as an issue for working mothers, it’s not just about moms, an ymore.As our workforce be- comes more diverse, employees look for the flexibility to observe important cul- tural or religious customs and holidays. People with disabilities need to flex in an instant depending on their needs for self-care.Working fathers are more inclined than in previous generations to take on a share of child caregiving responsibilities. Still others want flexibility to take on significant

Eighty-one percent

of employees whose work allows for flexibility feel that it positively affects their productivity.

5Families and Work Institute. The Impact of the Recession on Employers. 2009.


7Corporate Voices for Working Families.

Flexible Work Strategies: Attitudes & Experiences. 2008.

Only 42% of men who earn less than their wives feel

comfortable when the scenario moves from theory to reality.

community commitments, or to accom- modate teaming with colleagues in dif- ferent time zones.And younger workers expect flexibility far more than their parents ever did.They expect it because it all comes so naturally with their tech- nological grace and multi-tasking ease.

Top employers engender a culture of flexibility for all.They make the financial commitment to the tech- nologies that allow for the flexibility demands of a 24/7 global world.They understand that working flexibly means different things to different people.And giving all employees the opportunity to work flexibly may go a long way in addressing negative perceptions of working mothers held by their non-parent counterparts.

The rigidity of the full-time/face-time work schedule simply doesn’t work for millions of today’s employees. Forward- thinking employers recognize the value of offering flexibility for all, both to their people and to their organizations.



…does it bother her spouse? No. At least not in theory.

Men think they are comfortable enough

with the notion of their spouse earn- ing more than they earn. Our survey showed that 59 percent of men think it would be okay for their spouse to be the higher earner.

But what happens when women actually earn more than their spouses? We find that only 42 percent of men who earn less feel comfortable when the scenario moves from theory to reality (a 17-point dip).

As it turns out, women seem as affected as men by notions of traditional gender roles when it comes to earnings. Seventy-three percent of women say they would be comfortable if their spouses were the higher earners. But when wom- en are the higher earners, the percentage who say they would be comfortable if their spouse earned more jumps to 87 percent. (See chart on page 15.)

As of 2008, 26 percent of women in dual-earner couples earned at least 10 percentage points more than their spouse or partner.The impact of the recession on male unemployment, combined with women’s continued growth in educational achievement may result in rapid growth of women as the higher earner in dual-income couples, according to the Families and Work Institute.

Source: What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report

…do her family duties go down? Not so much.

When working mothers are the primary breadwinners, their spouses are more likely to agree that they should share equally in childcare and household responsibilities. But ask the higher- earning working mother and she’ll tell you it’s not really working out that way. While 68 percent of lower-earning working fathers think they carry their fair share of the housework, only 45 percent of the higher-earning working mothers agree.

There’s also disagreement when it comes to taking initiative with house- work and childcare. Just 33 percent of working mothers say their working spouses take initiative with housework, and just 41 percent see initiative when it comes to childcare.When women earn more than their spouses, they do see more initiative from their husbands on the domestic front but not by all that much. Less than half say their husbands show initiative.


Source: What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report

8Stephen J. McNamee and Robert K. Miller. The Meritocracy Myth. 2004.

This echoes a struggle that occurs across millions of households. Men complain that their wives don’t ap- preciate the work they do around the house.And their wives complain that they have to ask their spouses to take care of specific tasks or they won’t get done. Sociologists point to the “invis- ible mental labor” women often take on when it comes to things like taking care of children, for example.8 Whether it’s the lunch money, field trip forms, doctor’s appointments, recital dates, or

team schedules — it typically falls to the mom to keep on top of it all.


Be mindful of outside stresses Certainly no one would suggest that employers should get involved in the ongoing war of the sexes when it comes to managing housework and kids.

But employers should recognize that high-performing hard-working moth-


Working mothers who earn more than their spouse

Source: What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report



Men Women

Working mothers who earn more than their spouse

Fathers who earn less than their spouse

My spouse/partner…

Working mothers who earn more than their spouse

Working fathers

Fathers who earn less than their spouse

Percentage tending to or strongly agreeing (both charts)

Source: What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report

Has business made great strides in providing equitable opportunities for women?

It depends on whom you ask.

ers and fathers face real stressors outside of work.The model of a stay-at-home spouse who takes care of all the family matters is but a shadow of its former self.As of 2008, 79 percent of married or partnered employees lived in dual- earner couples.9 The answer in part comes back to allowing for flexibility in how and where work gets done.

Provide an assist

Being stretched isn’t just a passing phenomenon. Employers differentiate themselves when they make efforts to make life a little easier for their people. Ten or fifteen years ago, progressive employers were pulling out all the stops on this front. Errands like dropping off and picking up the dry-cleaning or getting the oil changed in the car were left to concierge services employers pro- vided.These high-touch and high-cost services were likely among the first to go when the downturn hit.

But employers can provide meaning- ful support in other ways. Employee assistance programs (EAPs) that, for example, provide a vetted list of nanny services, can be exceptionally helpful to stretched employees.“Employers don’t have to pay for the nanny, but they can help identify reputable resources for parents,” explains Ernst &Young’s Williamson.“These kinds of programs are the price of admission for being seen as a great employer.To that end, Working Mother 100 Best Company FINRA, an independent securities regulator based in Washington, DC, offers childcare search services, access to adoption agencies and support, personal financial planning help and more through its EAP.

Pay it forward

As women continue to break through to senior executive roles, it is important to provide support in this transition. One avenue is through professional women’s networks.Virtually all the organizations on the Best Companies list sponsor them.Among other things, these networks provide opportunity for women climbing the ladder to hear from the company’s female executives on how they manage demanding careers

and their lives at home. Companies can use this forum for higher-paid female executives to share their experiences with the income issue, and how they’ve dealt with it.

Many top companies hold special

meetings to help newly minted senior executives understand their new roles and responsibilities.These venues are prime opportunities to bring in the spouses and significant others of new executives, to help them understand the demands that come with the role. Discussions could include the potential impact on couples when the woman is the higher earner.


Do you see what I see? Has business made great strides in providing equitable opportunities for women? It depends on whom you ask. Least likely to think so are women with more than 20 years in the workforce (54%).Their views make sense — they witnessed their moms’ struggles and experienced the challenges themselves. It’s also not surprising that their male colleagues see great strides (62%).With many more female colleagues than ever before (never mind that most aren’t in the C-suite), it must look like business has made great progress.

When we look at men and women who have worked five years or less, we see much closer agreement. Sixty-two percent of women and 60 percent of men early in their careers think busi- nesses have made great strides. Most young workers have fundamentally different experiences than the genera- tions before them. But they’ve heard the stories and witnessed the contin- ued challenges of a still uneven playing field.Younger men and women in the workforce understand that business has made progress, but we aren’t yet where we need to be.

Do you want what I want? Our survey found universal agreement on what employees say they look for

9Families and Work Institute. The Impact of the Recession on Employers. 2009.

when choosing a place to work: a desire for job security tops the list and compet- itive earnings comes in second.A flexible work schedule and culture is the third most-sited issue for working mothers.

A new study of the global workforce by Towers Watson, a global professional services firm, finds that employers underestimate the importance

of security and well-being when their people evaluate whether or not to leave their current organization.The study concludes that,“with many employees feeling more responsible for managing their careers and retirement, they are increasingly likely to be influenced by job offers that include a (better) pension, greater job security, better work/life balance or more flexible work arrangements.”10



Big steps? Yes. Great strides? They’re working on it.

Despite the tremendous efforts by the Working Mother 100 Best Companies, only 40 percent of today’s workforce think business has made great strides in providing equitable opportunities for women.These Working Mother Best Companies, as a result, are in the best position to draw from the critical talent pool of working mothers.

It’s interesting that men and women who are early in their careers see things similarly when it comes to businesses’ efforts to date on providing women with equitable opportunities.The alignment of their attitudes suggests that they’ve experienced through their parents the challenges that came before them, and that they’re cognizant of the

Balance and flexibility are fast becoming the domain of all workers — not just working mothers.

10Towers Watson. 2010 Global Talent Management and Rewards Study. September 2010.

challenges that remain.As women seek to break remaining barriers (and there remain a lot of barriers despite the strides of the past 25 years), it appears they may find useful allies among their male colleagues.

Stability and fair pay are fundamental

Perhaps the desire for job stability is rooted in the tortuous economy of the last few years.Though the recovery seems unable to decide when it will truly kick in, history suggests that it

will. Even when we start to see less tumult in the labor market, though, employees will still likely place the desire for job stability and competitive earnings above all else. Simply put, these are foundational components of satisfaction at work.

As the labor market continues to evolve, work-life balance and the ability to work flexibly will likely join security and fair pay as what employees most desire. Balance and flexibility are fast becoming the domain of all workers — not just working mothers.


The growth of the female workforce has been expo- nential. Ten years ago, men held six million more jobs than women. Today, that gap is just half a million.11 Women today earn 60 percent of the college degrees awarded each year (including half of all Ph.Ds and professional degrees).12

As women begin to outnumber men in the workforce, employers must respond to their desire for equitable opportunities to reach the upper ranks. Sheer demographics make this a simple reality, and

business results prove the value. Among the latest studies to show the positive business impact of female executives comes from Pepperdine University. It found a strong correlation between high-level female executives and business profitability.13

A large and growing number of employers recognize the imperative of adjusting to the new face of the American workforce. The new reality requires breaking away from tradi- tional modes of how work

gets done, and how careers progress. Employers that get this will win the loyalty of talented working mothers, and all employees who desire vibrant work and personal lives.

Employers that recognize their culture as a competi- tive advantage — in good times and in bad — will most likely be the em- ployers of choice when Working Mother Media celebrates the 50th An- niversary of its 100 Best Companies.

Will your organization be among them?

11Ad Age Insights. White paper: The Reality of the Working Woman. Her Impact on the Female Target Beyond Consumption. June 7, 2010.

12Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress. The Shriver Report. A Study by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress. 2010.

13Miller-McCune Research Essay. Profit, Thy Name is…Woman? February 27,2009.




Satisfaction with…


Mothers who


working moms

work for

financial reasons

Career prospects




Choice to be a working parent




Opportunities to develop skills




Match between job interests and work you do




Job security and stability




Family’s financial stability




How much (one’s) opinion counts at work




Level of respect received at work




Compensation relation to contribution




Support received from supervisor/manager




in meeting home and family obligations

Spouse/partner’s contribution to caring for children




Support received from spouse/partner in




meeting work demands

How at-home tasks are divided (with) spouse/partner




The level of respect you get at home




Amount of time spent with spouse/partner




(One’s) children’s prospects




How much (one’s) opinion counts at home




Relationships with co-workers




Relationship with spouse/partner




Amount of time spent on taking care of (one’s) self




Source: What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report



Frequently feel…


Mothers who


working moms

work for

financial reasons

That work fulfills a higher or more meaningful




purpose than “just making money”

Satisfied with childcare or other caregiver









That (I) cannot get away from work








Their life is “in balance”




Positive about the amount of time spent w/friends




(Their commitment at work is challenged by




others (coworkers, managers)

That (my) children eat healthy




They get enough sleep




Supported by (one’s) spouse/partner




Positive about relationship w/ spouse/partner




Positive about the amount of time spent w/family




Source: What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report



Mothers who



work for

financial reasons


37.15 years old


Years in the workforce (average)



Average income individual



Average income household



% earning more than spouse /partner



#of children (average)



Age of children (average)



% currently married



% that are single parents



% whose spouse/partner is employed full time



# of nights away from children due

1.18 (70% spend

0.89 (79% spend

to work or travel requirements

0 nights away)

0 nights away)

% with children in childcare center



% with supervisory/management responsibility



% spending time caring for parents/family members



% with a mother that worked outside the home



% that graduated college or above



% identifying as other than Caucasian



Source: What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report


When Working Mother Media decided to mark the 25th anniversary of the Working Mother 100 Best Companies with new research into the mindset of today’s working moms, it approached Ernst & Young, IBM, Procter & Gamble. Together, this team focused on how best to understand current perceptions of and about working mothers.

A research team from Ernst & Young facilitated a dialogue that assisted in identify- ing what we wanted to learn and designed a survey to accomplish our goals. New York-based research company Walker Communications fielded a national survey through a series of email blasts sent by Survey Sampling International (SSI) between June 7 and June 14, 2010, and a total of 4,606 individuals submitted

an online questionnaire.

Walker Communications received and tabulated the responses, which were then analyzed by the Ernst & Young research team. The final results are documented in this report.

Ernst & Young Research Team

Americas Inclusiveness Director

Maryella Gockel

Associate Director, Research & Business Insights

Jeff Merrifield

Americas HR Strategy & Operations Director

Patrick O’Donnell

Americas Inclusiveness Consultant

Sadaf Parvaiz

IBM works with clients around the world to help their businesses grow “smarter” as the planet becomes more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent. Through its software, hardware, services, consulting and R&D expertise, IBM helps create systems that lead to less traffic, healthier food, cleaner water and safer cities.

Four billion times a day, P&G brands touch the lives of people around the world. The company has one of the strongest portfolios of trusted, quality, leadership brands, including Pampers®, Tide®, Ariel®, Always®, Whisper®, Pantene®, Mach3®, Bounty®, Dawn®, Gain®, Pringles®, Charmin®, Downy®, Lenor®, Iams®, Crest®, Oral-B®, Duracell®, Olay®, Head & Shoulders®, Wella®, Gillette®, Braun® and Fusion®. The P&G community includes approximately 135,000 employees working in about 80 countries worldwide.

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 135,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential. Ernst & Young refers to the global organization of member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information, please visit www.ey.com.

Working Mother magazine reaches 2 million readers and is the only national magazine for working moms; WorkingMother.com brings to the Web home and career information, advice and a broad range of solu- tions daily. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Working Mother’s signature research initiative, Working Mother 100 Best Companies, the most important benchmark for work-life practices in corporate America. Working Mother Media, a division of Bonnier Corp., includes the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) and Diversity Best Practices. Working Mother Media’s mission is to serve as a champion of culture change.


Carol Evans

Working Mother Media Research Institute


Jennifer Owens

Manager, Editorial Research & Initiatives

Kristen Willoughby

Manager, Corporate Research Initiatives

Michele Siegel

Primary Research Associate

Kaisa Filppula

Contributing Art Director

Natalie Kocsis

Sales & Marketing

VP, Group Publisher

Joan Sheridan LaBarge

Executive Account Directors

LaQuanda Murray

Kim Sealy

Jennifer Smyth

Senior Account Directors

Takita Mason

Alisa Nadler

Director, Sales & Client Services

Meghan Donnelly

Director, Marketing and Public Relations

Nancy Intrator

Marketing Manager

Jessica Goldman

Art Director

Helena You


Director, Digital Media

Helen Jonsen

Manager, Online

Kelli Daley

Working Mother Media

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