Mums don’t just shape the people we become – they also make up a significant portion of today’s workforce, with more than half of all Australian mums working part-time or full-time while raising their children at the same time.

Despite this, as a nation, Australia is still in dire need of workplace reform to better support mothers. Studies show working mums are 40 per cent more stressed than other people, and more than 77 per cent of expecting or working mums report facing prejudice in the office.

On top of this, working mums often have to balance career and family responsibilities, and can face added pressure or miss opportunities from managers as a mum returning to work. A 2018 report by PwC revealed 48 per cent of new mothers said they were overlooked for career advancement because they had children.

A snapshot of working mums

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics:

  • 53.4 per cent of all Aussie mums are working mums
  • 6.7 per cent of working mothers are likely to be self-employed
  • 95,100 mums are studying full-time

Many workplaces overlook the benefits having working mothers brings to business, despite the fact that 50 per cent of working mothers believe being a mum helps adds to their workplace skills. Having mums in the office can lead to improved company culture, better business innovation, and increased financial performance. 

Rather than acknowledging mums only when it’s Mother’s Day in Australia, it’s important to see and act upon the value working mums bring to the workplace every day. That’s why we've rounded up the key reasons why they’re one of the biggest assets an organisation can have, and how employers can better support mums in the workplace.

Mums bring more diversity into the workplace

Despite the fact that more than half of all mums in Australia are working, mums are more likely to be working in administrative duties, as shown by figures from the most recent census. What’s more, women in general are underrepresented in leadership positions: only 30.5 per cent of key management employees are women, with a significant proportion of these being working mothers.

By bringing more working mums into the workplace, organisations encourage workplace diversity and gender equality, which in turn leads to more productive and innovative businesses with better performance.

How they do it

  • They help provide more gender parity in the workforce
  • They can offer a different point of view from their parenting experience
  • They can represent and support other working mothers or working parents

...which directly adds value to a company by

  • Improving market value: 10 per cent increase in gender diversity = 7 per cent increase on market value
  • Boosting revenue growth: 15 per cent growth rate YoY for female-led companies, versus 5 per cent for male-led
  • Encouraging more diversity: 61 per cent of women look at gender diversity when deciding their next career move

They’re qualified and entrepreneurial

There are a growing number of mums who are self-employed or are employers: in the last 20 years, the percentage of self-employed working mums in Australia increased almost twofold from 3.9 per cent to 6.7 per cent. The number of Aussie mums with post-school qualifications has also doubled to 51.5 per cent, compared to 23.2 per cent more than 20 years ago.

Working mothers who come from a tertiary background or who have previously been self-employed can offer more entrepreneurial and analytical approaches to business challenges, combining the flexibility and creativity needed for running a business with the research and analysis that comes from post-school study. On top of this, combining an entrepreneurial mindset with the unpredictability of raising a child means mums are not afraid to try new things and fail, which is essential for innovation in any business.

Time management experts

A study by the NFIB revealed poor time management accounts for over 38 per cent of lost productivity in the office and, according to LinkedIn, time management is one of the top five most-desired skills employers are looking for in 2019. If there’s anyone in the workplace that understands how to prioritise and manage time effectively, it’s working mums because they have to practise this skill on a daily basis.

  • They manage their career and home - often without help
    Aussies spend only 0.4 per cent of GDP on childcare vs a 0.6 per cent average
  • They work, study, and raise a family
    114,800 mums have jobs, study, and raise a kid under 15 years old
  • They juggle office work and housework
    50 per cent of all mothers aged 20-49 take on over 15 hours of housework per week

Mums are well-versed in, and well-equipped to deal with, managing different tasks and prioritising to ensure what’s important gets done – a skill that translates into improved productivity and output at work, and greater efficiency on tasks.

Mums have well-honed soft skills and emotional intelligence

Soft skills are essential to build a strong team and deliver business performance, and working mums are well-equipped with the EQ needed to succeed, either in an employee or a leadership position.

Research from the Harvard Business Review reveals CEOs who have soft skills like compassion and integrity deliver an incredible 9.35 per cent return on assets over two years, and women are already more likely than men to have this asset, with women outperforming men on 11 out of 12 competencies in emotional intelligence.

With the added challenge of empathising with a child’s emotions while balancing personal challenges and managing colleagues and managers, mums often have an acute sense of empathy and compassion, which can be transferred to a business context when dealing with colleagues and stakeholders.

3 ways companies can create a better environment for mums

  • Offer flexible working hours – 83 per cent of women want to enjoy flexible work in their next role. Flexible working hours help mums better balance work and home lives, and help employers attract and retain top talent.
  • Support in childcare – The cost of childcare can cause high amounts of stress and limit a mum’s working hours, and mums working full-time instead of part-time would cost the family 20 per cent more than what she earns. Subsidised childcare can reduce the financial burden, and give mums more time to dedicate to their role.
  • Advocate inclusion and understanding in the workplace – Organisations need to tackle workplace discrimination by adjusting company policies such as parental leave and flexible work arrangements, and actively encouraging more inclusive leadership. Doing so can help lift workforce participation rates for women, which could contribute $60 billion in GDP by 2038.
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