No whining in this episode, just the cold hard facts about retaining working moms. A subject near and dear to our (Tyson's) hearts, we sit down with Erica Ballard, Founder & CEO of retainHER, to talk about why we still have so much bias towards working moms, how to crush that, and what we need to do to retain them while uncovering some eye opening BS along the way.
Release Date: April 27, 2022
[00:00:00] Erica Ballard: I'm ready?
[00:00:09] Erica: Pretty good. How are you?
[00:00:15] Erica: I honestly look the same every week, so it's all good. At least you're zhuzhing it up a little bit. You've got the wet hair. [chuckles] It's perfect.
[00:00:32] Erica: Okay. Mullets are coming back. I was told mullets are coming back. I'm concerned. I saw this hilarious-- It was like a TikTok video or something and it was like how all of the-- whatever the next generation is that's coming in, they're undoing all the really hard work that millennials did. They're plucking their eyebrows really skinny.
They're wearing low-rise pants. We worked fucking hard to have no maintenance eyebrows and high-ass pants.
I was really funny, but, yes, all these-- what are they, Gen Zs, I guess, are coming in. They did bring back the mom jean, which I love. I love me a good baggy jean. They're high-waist [inaudible 00:01:10], and they're baggy, which I love. They're super flattering.
[00:01:15] Erica: Yes, like what my mom would've wore.
[00:01:22] Erica: No, we're not doing a low rise bell-bottom, that is gone. That can stay in 2003 like baggy, baggy pants.
[00:01:38] Erica: That's so weird.
[00:01:43] Erica: Oh my God. No, I posted him on HR Shook.
[00:01:46] Erica: On HR Shook, I used a picture of Justin Bieber and I was like people returning to the office not sure how to dress because we've been in our sweatpants for two years.
[00:02:01] Erica: Love it.
[00:02:03] Erica: All right. [laughs]
[00:03:09] Erica: It's the warehouse, right? Just to be clear, it's the warehouse group that has unionized.
[00:03:24] Erica: I feel like their headquarters or the tech guys and gals were trying to unionize at one point. I don't know if it was Amazon or somewhere else. That will be something that I'm very interested in, is when the tech industry starts to unionize, because that's an industry that historically has really rode off the startup, it's fun to work here. You might get paid a little less because it's super cool to work here and you get all these cool benefits.
It's just you should be lucky that you're working at Google kind of situation. When the tech industry unionizes I'll be interested.
[00:04:31] Erica: Yes.
[00:05:28] Erica: Well-- so, okay.
[00:05:35] Erica: I will say though that that's probably a very US perspective. In Canada, unions are alive and well, for sure. There's a lot of unionized-
[00:05:48] Erica: Hold on. I'm hearing feedback. Are we good?
[00:05:56] Erica: Yes.
[00:06:02] Erica: Okay. Starting again. Ellie, thank you. Our editor. In Canada, unions are alive and well. We've always been pretty heavily unionized, especially in that type of work. I think the only company that's been able to desperately avoid unions like the plague is Walmart. They've tried so hard to unionize Walmarts and Walmart is just unbelievably good at dodging them. They do a lot of really shady stuff to do so, but so, yes, so definitely there's lots of unions still in Canada.
I not surprised that this type of work is being unionized and I don't like it. It seems more common here. I'm surprised that Amazon didn't dodge it better though. I will say that.
[00:06:45] Erica: Well, that's what I mean. I just felt they would've-- I felt as though Amazon would've tried harder to dodge the union, but I think because they've been under so much scrutiny with their practices, that it would've been even worse if they did some-- because usually when companies are dodging unions, they do some shady stuff.
[00:07:10] Erica: Yes.
[00:07:45] Erica: Well unions are very smart. I know people who've been approached to be the employee to start gathering people to join the union. They know what they're doing. The unions really, really know how to organize. It's a little bit like the wild west because you're sort of whispering people in the halls like, oh yes. They can't meet on company grounds or they can't do it in the company.
Yes, it's very interesting. It's not my flavor of the week, my taste in HR. I don't like union stuff. I don't like it, but I don't love labor relations but it's very interesting. A lot of people do, but it's not me.
[00:08:23] Erica: It is.
[00:08:27] Erica: Yes. For sure.
[00:08:55] Erica: Welcome.
[00:09:34] Erica: Let them use the washroom without putting a tracker on them. [chuckles]
[00:10:00] Erica: They're so not.
[00:13:19] Erica: What is it? What are you finding in the work that you're doing? What is some of the main reasons that women are getting held back?
[00:13:52] Erica: Whoa, 40%?
[00:14:10] Erica: I need to just pick my jaw off the floor, sorry. [chuckles]
[00:14:38] Erica: Sure.
[00:17:44] Erica: You what's so funny though. I'll share personally-- so I have a six-and-a-half month old, so I'm right there with you in the trenches. Me and my husband, we have very different, we are like swapped gender norms. I am very career-focused, I'm much more-- I have more masculine type like drive and all that stuff. He is more about family and he would love just to be a stay-at-home dad and everything.
We went into this whole parenthood thing thinking like, "You know what? It's going to be easy. We're going to share the responsibilities and everything." In Canada, we get a year or we get up to 18 months, so I take a year, he takes six months and it's funny. I went into parenthood thinking like, "No big deal, I'm still going to be able to have a career, blah, blah, blah, blah." Then baby comes, and exactly the opposite of what you said, like being able to do anything at any time, you literally can't do anything because you need--
Like right now, even recording this podcast, I need to have someone looking after the baby. Even though I was someone who went into this thinking just because I'm a woman doesn't mean I need to do everything, then the baby comes and you're like, "Oh, shit." All that stuff comes up like you were saying that it's all of a sudden your mom brain kicks in. It's like, I actually do have to do everything.
You don't, but it was something about becoming a mom that just made me be the Tasmanian devil, like cleaning shit and taking care of everything. Even as someone who felt like I would not be that person, it just happens. I'm going on a tangent here, but all that to say is even if you do feel those strongly, that like, yes, equal partners everything, that stuff comes up that you're talking about. That feeling of like, "I have to do it all," definitely. It came up for me, at least. That was my personal experience.
[00:19:51] Erica: Oh, yes.
[00:19:57] Erica: Yes.
[00:20:03] Erica: Oh, yes. You're all-- [laughs] Oh yes, I know that.
[00:20:31] Erica: Yes.
[00:20:47] Erica: Oh, yes.
[00:21:01] Erica: Yes, everyone's got an opinion.
[00:21:18] Erica: Yes.
[00:23:03] Erica: It's insane. [laughs]
[00:24:00] Erica: That's the narrative.
[00:25:28] Erica: Yes, that's interesting. The narrative is basically that they're taking care of kids, but that's not really what's happening.
[00:25:37] Erica: I was just going to say, what are they doing? [laughs]
[00:25:45] Erica: What do they do after their year off?
[00:25:54] Erica: Right.
[00:28:01] Erica: Because they think that the woman is home looking after the kids when they should be working.
[00:28:10] Erica: Making macaroni. [laughs]
[00:29:36] Erica: The childcare thing too, even if it's just not giving any sort of subsidy or anything. I know a lot of companies can partner with childcare centers to guarantee their staff a spot. Because just getting a spot in daycare is hard enough, but knowing that you're guaranteed a spot because your company's a corporate partner to that daycare is something I feel like that costs nothing and it's very, very helpful. That was like really reassuring for me when I went through the process of finding daycare. I feel so spoiled as a Canadian though, like here we are, we've have 18 months of mat leave. The other partner gets like an additional five weeks, which is awesome that I couldn't touch for example so it guarantees that he gets to take time as well and then also, what was just announced is we are getting subsidized daycare so it's like $10 a day daycare across Canada.
It's insane and that's our government doing that. It's not like companies-- Anything that your company does like top-ups and everything like that that companies offer is just like a bonus. I absolutely feel spoiled.
[00:31:04] Erica: Yes.
[00:38:40] Erica: Yes, I think, again, and maybe it's a Canadian thing. I have to speak on behalf of the Canadian side of things, but I've been very lucky in typically organizations that I've worked for. We've seen a lot of that. We're seeing it even more now with the pandemic, but even pre-pandemic, there's always been options for women to come back at less, or men even, to come back at different weekly hours. They're still salaried employees, but they only work prorated hours sort of thing. I've definitely seen a lot of that, but I think in terms of the judgment, I think a lot of that happens like-- I was a judger.
Before I had kids, I judged. Really hardcore. I'm like, "Okay, if you're staying home all day, there better be a warm meal on the table, the house better be clean." I was that person, before I had a child. Seriously, I was-- I'm going to just own it. I'm going to own my shit because I think a lot of people think this way. Then, I had a baby. I'm like, "Holy shit. I didn't know the baby had to be held all day. I thought she would just be put in her crib and go to sleep. What the hell? Why do I have to hold? Why do I have to nurse her to sleep?"
All these things, that I'm like, "I didn't know that this was what babies did." Like little things like that. As someone who used to judge, I can see how that still happens, and people are, "Oh, I don't judge. I don't judge." Or guys in the workplace will say, it's the littlest things. We think it's not there, but it is. Like my girlfriend who recently was married. Completely, you wouldn't want that promotion and you got married. The guy didn't even try to hide it. This stuff is just still--
[00:40:39] Erica: Yes, because she's going to have kids. He didn't even try to hide it. It's so prevalent in the workplace still, because, I don't know, and I think that the reason why I'm saying this is because a lot of people might be like, "Oh, no, we're more progressive than this. It doesn't happen. It's not that bad." It truly is still that bad. I got a huge--
[00:41:05] Erica: That's exactly it. Going back to like, "How come people just can't be stay-at-home moms?" Well, a lot of people, that's the option because if daycare is $2,500 a month, you got two kids in daycare, there's no point in working. You're better off staying home. Right?
[00:41:46] Erica: Yes. The reason I'm bringing this up and owning my own shit and my own judgments, is because I think it's important that people recognize the fact that it's still alive. Those judgments are still alive and well, and there's so many things, like going back to what you said earlier, Erica, just in terms of the biases, how do we strip that? How do we get rid of that?
[00:42:16] Erica: Aside from having a kid and going through it, how do we solve it?
[00:44:22] Erica: Yes.
[00:45:00] Erica: Yes.
[00:45:03] Erica: Yes, I love that.
[00:45:11] Erica: [laughs]
[00:45:52] Erica: It's so not.
[00:46:05] Erica: That's the other thing that makes zero sense about the US. If you had told me that I had to go and do anything, I know someone in the US who's a teacher, I think. I think she had two months off, and she had a C-section. Physically, how do you do that? I still almost completely primarily breastfeed my child, and she's six and a half months. I don't know, my heart breaks. I don't know. It's so hard, physically.
[00:48:06] Erica: [laughs]
[00:48:24] Erica: Yes. [laughs]
[00:48:31] Erica: Yes. That's other people. I did the same thing, Erica. Don't worry. [laughs]
[00:50:22] Erica: Well, and that does happen. Yes. I was just going to say, because I know another new mom who has a baby just a bit older than mine, and she is desperate for this promotion, but she's like, "Mentally, I don't think I can do it. I want it, but I--" She doubts herself and her abilities to be that working mom at this higher level, which is another messed up thing.
[00:50:51] Erica: Right.
[00:52:14] Erica: Oh, my God, yes. [laughs]
[00:54:12] Erica: Yes, I was going to say I could never sleep after that. I could never sleep after that.
[00:54:21] Erica: My triple peak is at like 6:00 AM. If I can get my ass out of bed, just getting over the hump, if I could just get up, then I can get a crap little work done at 6:00 AM, but anyways.
[00:54:38] Erica: 5:00 or 6:00 PM?
[00:54:44] Erica: I am a couch potato at 6:00 PM. [laughs] That's when my whole body shuts down, [laughs] which is right now. [laughs]
[00:54:57] Erica: No, she doesn't. She doesn't, but she gets up at 5:00 to feed. If I can get my ass up, then she'll go back to sleep until like 8:30, and then I can get some work done between 6:00 and 8:30. No, she does not sleep through the night. [chuckle]
[00:55:14] Erica: No, no. I wish. [chuckles]
[00:55:17] Erica: No, no.
[00:55:37] Erica: Yes.
[00:55:57] Erica: Okay. This one is, we've touched a little bit on it, but we'll wrap our conversation a bow. The question from a pops member actually.
[00:56:07] Erica: Yes.
[00:56:14] Erica: Hold on. Hold on.
[00:56:21] Erica: Hold on.
[00:56:25] Erica: Is Adam here? Babe?
[00:56:38] Erica: Can you hear me now?
[00:56:41] Erica: Okay. I feel like my husband left his Wi-Fi on his phone, so my whole Wi-Fi situation will cut out. Okay. Just let me know if I cut out again.
[00:56:50] Erica: I think it's because he just got home. Erica, I live in the middle of nowhere. I have zero Internet. So, only one person. Only one person at a time on the Internet. Okay. This is--
[00:57:02] Erica: Starting again. This is from a pops member. They want to know about re-onboarding women after they've been on mat leave. I know we've touched a little bit on this, but if we can just sort of wrap in a bow some things that we should consider as we're re-onboarding women after mat leave. In the states, I know it's a very short mat leave, but let's take the perspective of us Canadians, who might have been off for a year to 18 months. That's a long chunk of time to be away. Thoughts on that.
[00:57:34] Erica: Yes.
[00:59:09] Erica: Yes, 100%.
[00:59:18] Erica: [laughs]
[01:01:28] Erica: Or whose parent has cancer, for example. Right?
[01:01:44] Erica: Use your best judgment as a leader. Right?
[01:02:16] Erica: Right. If it's time off, let's not be our own bias here. It's not just women that should be taking time off to-- Or it's not just taking the time off for your kid, it could be taking time off to help a parent, or a loved one, or a spouse. There's all sorts of reasons why that flexibility will come in handy at some point for everybody that works at the organization, just not one particular type of person. Having that flexibility and judgment.
The only thing I would add to this conversation is just thinking about a lot of this before the mat leave as well, versus like scrounging at the end to figure things out. Have the conversation before with the person, figure out, first of all, do they want any sort of communication while they're off? Is there any sort of discussion? Because, for me, I didn't want to just be totally iced out. I wanted to keep a pulse on what's going on. Don't bother me, but if I reach out to you, let's have a conversation.
Do some of that stuff beforehand, and definitely, the way I'm thinking about returning to work, this is probably the worst thing, but I'm like, I feel like I'll be starting a new job because the organization that I work for has changed so much since I've been gone. A year is a very long time in this world. Going back will be a completely different situation, so I almost want to be treated like a new hire. I need to get the whole rigamarole, all the updates, everything that you would give to someone that you're hiring at this point, just because it's going to be so different. That's what I personally would need to feel like I was up to snuff, right?
[01:04:10] Erica: Yes.
[01:05:54] Erica: Isn't this the judgment we're not supposed to have? [laughs]
[01:06:00] Erica: Yes.
[01:06:13] Erica: I feel like this is definitely the insurance company who's come up with these calculations.
[01:06:22] Erica: Like if you drive a red car, you're going to be more likely to get an accident.
[01:06:34] Erica: Totally. Yes, yes, yes. 100%.
[01:06:54] Erica: Again, it's the variety of options for everyone, right?
[01:06:59] Erica: Yes.
[01:07:13] Erica: Yes.
[01:07:15] Erica: Yes.
[01:07:32] Erica: 1,000%.
[01:07:51] Erica: Yes. [laughs]
[01:09:09] Erica: I love that. Also, I'll totally plug your Instagram. I definitely fangirled over your videos before we recorded. Alexa can-- [laughs]
[01:09:32] Erica: Thank you. Wait. Can we just do a quick pretend smile, as if we're taking a picture? Ready? One, two, three. Oh, okay. Thanks.
[01:09:50] [END OF AUDIO]