Working Moms: How the Chamber Can Help Momployees

There’s been a terrible, hidden cost of this pandemic for women, particularly working moms.

The most recent federal funding bill addressed the need to help women reenter the workforce because so many of their careers (or current positions) were hampered by women having to take on the role of teacher for their children.

What else can be done? Here’s how your chamber can help these “momployees.”

Working Moms and The Impact of the Pandemic

Yes, some households shared responsibilities for children who were kept out of school by the pandemic but many women were the ones expected to give up their careers–or put them on hold–so they could see to their children’s care or oversaw their schooling.

While many people are struggling either being out of work or having to resort to part-time employment to address needs at home, women with young children–or “momployees”–have been among the hardest hit. This may be an area that the chamber can help in.

Here are some ideas of what you can do for these working moms.

Working Moms in Crisis

From segments on NPR to articles in the New York Times, the plight of working moms is coming to the forefront of the business community right now.

As journalist Claire Cain Miller wrote in her NYT’s series The Primal Scream, “We live in a country … that has left it to individuals to figure out their family caregiving arrangements on their own. … There were never the structures in place to help us and to provide for working families in this country in the way that there are elsewhere.”

So where does the chamber fit in?

Obviously, it’s too late to open a tutoring and child care center. While that is written in jest and not exactly within the chamber’s mission, with schools opening again in many areas, mothers need transition help.

Here are a few ideas.

Helping the Moms in Your Community

With the ongoing pressure of either returning to work, looking for a new job, or starting a business, targeting professional moms in your community may be a great way to continue the connector reputation that chambers have.

In order to be a resource for working mothers, you may want to consider the following programming possibilities:

  • Sharing information and spotlighting women-owned brands and businesses in your community.
  • Hosting a job expo for businesses that encourage work/life balance or those that are family-friendly. This helps women looking for jobs and companies looking for employees.
  • Sponsoring events that can give women much-needed time out of the house in the evenings. Fun events like painting classes, wine tastings, makeover sessions (this also helps your wellness professionals. More about this later).
  • Hosting webinars on women’s interests.
  • Creating a list of free items, software and financial assistance for women in business (or those who want to be).
  • Hosting a grant-writing seminar (this can be a very valuable skill as well as a way to get seed money. There are several organizations looking to provide grants to women. You could include this information in the seminar.)
  • Hosting a fitness challenge. This can be done online and you can get your local trainers and fitness coaches involved. After all, when we look good and feel good, we have more confidence.
  • Training people to bring their businesses online. You can do this in the form of a webinar or a series of pre-recorded videos.
  • Creating a mom’s group or women’s networking group.
  • Establishing a women’s mentor or mastermind group.
  • Connecting tutors and childcare professionals to those who need their services. You can use your job board for this just make sure no one is under the impression you are screening people as part of this service.
Screenshot from Chamber RVA (Richmond Virginia) programs for women and working moms.
The Chamber of Commerce in Richmond, VA has a multi-faceted program for business women in their community.

Now, let’s dive a little deeper into some of these ideas.

Webinar Topics for Women

Coming up with webinar topics for women always feels a little like typecasting. After all, why should someone have an interest in certain topics just because they are a particular gender?

However most caregivers–usually moms, nurturers or female-identifying parents with young children–have certain topics that are more relevant for them.

There is no reason to exclude men, or women who don’t have children, from these types of webinars. Just make sure potential attendees understand that the focus will be on juggling work life and home life.

  1. How to start a business.
  2. How to transition to a new career.
  3. Working through mental health issues or stress.
  4. Meditation for stress relief.
  5. Self-care tips for women. (Also known as: “self care isn’t going to the bathroom alone”).
  6. Leave the guilt behind.
  7. How to have difficult conversations and come out on top.
  8. How to take your business online.
  9. Additional ways to make passive income.
  10. How to become a gig worker.
  11. How to use Pinterest for your business. (or any other social media platform).
  12. Acing your LinkedIn profile or explaining common issues on your resume.
  13. Overcoming imposter’s syndrome.
  14. Negotiating 101 (especially salary negotiations).
  15. Resilience in the face of change.
  16. Differences between men and women when looking for a job.
  17. How to empower other women.
  18. Building your own coalition or tribe of professional cheerleaders.
  19. It’s okay not to smile (breaking female stereotypes and expectations).
  20. Raising a strong generation of female leaders.
  21. Being a great boss.
  22. How to deal with the feelings behind not liking your family (or circumstances).
Screenshot from Scranton Pennsylvania Chamber from their Women in Business program.
The Scranton Pennsylvania chamber has a full program for women personally and professionally.

Evening Events for Women

As mentioned earlier, many women (because of their frequent or perceived status as secondary wage earners) had to place their own careers on hold or scale back hours because of the needs of the family.

Now that businesses are opening up again, and things may have shifted, evening activities may be the best way to reach this demographic. They long for events that will help them meet people to advance their career but also let them have fun.

Singling out mothers is not necessary, but people with small children may have different needs than those with no children or older ones. You may want to create an atmosphere or activity such as a “girl’s night out” or host an opportunity to bring the little ones with them. For instance, an art project networking event could allow women to get out and mingle with others even if they didn’t have childcare. Plus, the children could enjoy themselves with a painting project.

Even women who have friends with children may not have friends with children their age or those friends may be stay-at-home moms. This demographic may be feeling very isolated. A chamber event will give women a chance to meet other women who have similar struggles and commitments.

Marketing and Ideas That Serve Everyone

The difficulty in an article like this and in marketing women’s events (or mom events) is that some people may feel excluded. That is not the intention. When a specific demographic needs help, it’s important to reach out to them in a way that focused on their specific needs. That’s what you’re doing when you host women-focused events.

If you create marketing content around who will benefit and how, you don’t need to say “exclusively for women.” Create tight copy that targets and appeals to your audience for best results.

But before anyone feels disenfranchised, know that there are ways to include larger groups of people. For instance, you could create a makeover/headshot event. Work with beauty providers, photographers, fashionistas/stylists and even a caterer for this special event.

You could also add advice from a nutritionist or personal trainer. You may even have a nonprofit organization in your community that can help provide a professional outfit for the attendee. There are many options here and a lot of ways to tie them all together in helping to relaunch their careers.

Screenshot of a recent event by the Valparaiso Chamber for working moms and professional women to get new headshots.
The Valparaiso Chamber in Indiana co-hosted an event with the NWI – IWA (Northwest Indiana Influential Women Association).

A Sponsorship Opportunity Like None Other

What if people don’t have the money to pay for a headshot event and you can’t get the vendors to comp their services?

Allow businesses to sponsor a woman in the community for the headshot party. It’s not just about physical looks. Place a focus on the importance of personal branding. Offer coaching and help in that area too including how to market themselves.

This is an extraordinary sponsorship for the right business because it creates an amazing feel good moment for everyone involved. The chamber can offer a lot of help for the entire community and assist many negatively-impacted businesses in one event. Plus, give sponsors a way to shine that is press worthy.

Many of us aren’t feeling our best right now. Some people have gained weight or spent a lot of time in sweat pants.

And no one feels successful in sweat pants.

But you can work with service providers in your community to make a big impact on the lives of many women looking for a new start. You can help them, the vendors that partner with you to provide the services, and the businesses who sponsor these physical, mental, and emotional transformations.

And that’s the type of story and feel good moment that makes everyone proud to be a part of your community and the chamber.

By: Christina Metcalf