All moms feel the strain of balancing their home and work lives. But many factors can affect the ways we experience these two worlds. One of these factors is our culture. Culture shapes who we are, carrying with it a unique set of values, expectations, and challenges.
Recently, the Werklabs research team at The Mom Project took time to explore the connections between personal and professional life for Latina moms, examining how cultural factors may play a role. The overarching theme was the same for most: the pressures extended to all areas of their lives.
“The pressure to perform as though you don't work when you're at home, and to perform as though you don't have children when you're at work.” - Interviewed participant
Angie Stratman, The Mom Project’s VIVA ERG Co-Chair, used to feel torn between the two versions of herself. However, becoming a mother made her realize she didn’t want to teach her daughter to be smaller to fit herself into a box.
Let’s dive in to see what factors Latina moms say influence both their access to opportunities and their job satisfaction.
Understanding the current state of things
Covid-19 upended life for many working families — with Latina moms experiencing the bulk of this shift. Latinas are the largest group to have left the workforce during the pandemic. Yet even before the pandemic, Latinas were vulnerable to workplace instability, underemployment and discrimination. Various reasons contributed to this disparity, but it most often came down to limited access to educational opportunities, occupational segregation and discriminatory policies.
At The Mom Project, we aim to bridge gaps like this by connecting moms with opportunities. But in order to fix the problem, it’s important to first understand the contributing reasons.
By improving our understanding of the unique experiences and challenges for Latina moms as they balance family, work, and career, we can provide recommendations for employers on how to better support Latina moms, ultimately helping employers to retain this valuable segment of the workforce — and making a difference for Latina moms.
What factors impact economic opportunity for Latina moms?
By and large, the number one factor that plays a role in a Latina mom’s success is having family support. In interviews, Latina moms described an extremely strong cultural emphasis on the role of family. This includes both immediate family — spouses and children — as well as extended family, with grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. Even with this support, though, it can be difficult to deal with feelings of guilt and not being “enough.”
“One thing I would like to see is how moms balance their family and work life. For me, personally, sometimes I feel so guilty when I try to do my own thing. My immediate family is understanding, like my husband and my kids, but extended family and Latino culture is very predominant, right? So how do people balance saying no to grandma, and aunts and, etc, etc, and their work? Because it's kind of difficult.” - Interviewed participant
Professional challenges were cited by many of our interviewed moms as being critically important to economic opportunity. Many Latina moms have found themselves overlooked for promotions. They also often feel they don’t have a voice in their companies, feeling the need to prove themselves.
These challenges serve as barriers that stand in the way of economic advancement.
Financial concerns weigh heavily on Latina moms. In fact:
⇒ 54% of Latina moms say paying for child care is extremely challenging
⇒ 45% of Latina moms say budgeting and household finances are extremely challenging
⇒ 41% of Latina moms say job stability is extremely challenging
In spite of the challenges, Latina moms are driven by their goals and priorities. In fact, they are a top driver for economic success…and in a good way. Latina moms want more for their children. They want to create a better life for them. They also want to teach them to overcome inequalities and bias. Above all else, they want to teach their children to be financially independent.
Happy at work: what drives job satisfaction?
Support at work is essential for job satisfaction. Yet the factors that make us feel supported differ from person to person and group to group. For Latina moms, the top two aspects that help them feel supported are leadership and employee resource groups (ERGs).
With leadership, it comes down to trust. Does leadership communicate transparently? More importantly, do they act in a way that shows their support for employees? For Latina moms especially, demonstration through action goes a long way.
Notably, this is the area in which Latina moms feel the least supported. Only 31% of surveyed Latina moms agree that pay levels in their organizations are transparent, while 56% disagree that pay levels in their organizations are transparent. While this is clearly problematic, it serves as an opportunity for companies to step up and do better at retaining this valuable segment of employees.
One of the single most impactful resources at a company for Latina moms is having access to an ERG. The ability to connect with a group of peers who can understand your unique challenges and point of view is essential. In fact, more than any other cultural group, ERGs are the strongest driver of workplace satisfaction for Latina moms.
“But something that I love, and I have talked about this in our ERG, I've talked about it in a fireside chat with someone at Hispanic Executive, I never felt like myself until I saw people like me in an organization...I never had other Mexican or Latina women that experienced things that I did growing up, especially in a professional setting. It's just so great to get to talk to them about customs stuff too, right?” - Interviewed participant
How can companies lift up Latina moms?
The connection between home life and work life is distinct for Latina moms in a variety of ways. Understanding this unique experience is imperative for employers to fully and authentically support Latina moms. Asking thoughtful questions, taking time to learn and showing empathy will go a long way.
Read the entire Werklabs report here.