3 Ways Employers Can Support Women (and We Can Support Ourselves) Now

Tracy Dumas

It’s no secret that working women are facing unsustainable new challenges this year. Many working mothers have lost access to good childcare. Many working women without children are taking on new eldercare responsibilities. And even those without new caregiving demands are burdened by the fears and loneliness of these times.

“Everybody’s lives have been upended. And when your life is upended, it is going to affect your work,” work-life integration expert Tracy Dumas recently said.

Indeed, women with caretaking responsibilities have already begun to drop out of the workforce at alarming rates.

So, what can employers do to help retain quality talent in all the many fields in which women are contributing to the society and the economy—in some areas, at rates of 50 percent or more of the workforce? And what can we do to take better care of ourselves in these extraordinary times?

In an exclusive interview with the Conferences for Women, Dumas, an associate professor of management and human relations at Ohio State University, offered the following suggestions.


What employers can do:

  1. Figure out how you can help with childcare. “Organizations can help by either looking into establishing smaller facilities that employees could use for childcare or providing subsidies—some kind of financial assistance to help employees pay for childcare.”
  2. Focus on deliverables, not schedules. “Be attentive to the limitations employees have and give them a longer rope instead of enforcing a regular workday. Just pay attention to the deliverables and be flexible.”
  3. Think ahead to develop smarter policies and practices. When we are on the other side of this crisis, life will be different than it was before. So companies should start thinking now about what childcare, eldercare, and schooling might look like; how that will affect their employees; and how they can develop flexible, supportive policies and practices.

What you can do:

  1. Ask your company for childcare help. “If your organization hasn’t stepped up to provide child care but has shown a willingness to help, ask for smaller childcare facilities or subsidies.”
  2. Set some boundaries on work hours. “We switched into this new mode with no warning or preparation. And many of us haven’t been intentional about where and how to set boundaries about working at home.” Now, is the time to do that. Think about what you want your working hours to be – and when you can switch off and relax. “Research shows that having time to switch off allows you to come back to work more energized and better able to engage.”
  3. Be intentional about where in your house you work. “If you haven’t previously set aside a space for work at home, this may be a good time to do it. I just did this. Before I had no strategy. I was sitting on the couch for working and sitting on the couch for watching TV. Now, I’ve spruced up my home office a bit and, in general, created more of a boundary to feel more like I’m switching gears. I’m getting up and going to work now. And now I’m leaving my laptop in the office and going to watch TV. It may seem minor but feels different.”

“It is beneficial for anyone with any given task or responsibility to have the opportunity to unplug and recover. There is a whole body of research in organizational psychology on the benefits of recovery—of stepping away and unplugging and allowing yourself to be immersed in something totally different or just plain old rest.”

In other words, in a world in which so much is beyond our control, setting boundaries about when and where we work is something that is in our control that can help us keep our strength and resilience going through this marathon challenge.


IN OTHER NEWS

  • Want some timely virtual networking tips? Yai Vargas, founder of The Latinista, a national network of women and Latina professionals invested in professional development and career mobility, shares her thoughts on the latest episode of Women Amplified. Listen here.
  • Underserved young women are receiving financial and mentoring support this year as the first in their families to attend college—thanks to you and other members of the Conferences for Women community. Interested in helping? Learn more here.
  • Have you secured your ticket to the virtual 2020 Massachusetts Conference for Women? If not, learn more here.

More from the September 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Career Choices, Transitions, Life Balance, Health & Wellness, Goals & Priorities Tagged , |

Making It Easier for Women of Color to Get Support from a Therapist of Color

Black female mental health professional listening to patient as she lays on the couch and talks freely

Charmain F. Jackman is a licensed psychologist who grew up on Barbados, where many people of color, she recalls, had an all-or-nothing view about mental health: You had it, or you didn’t. There was no in between.

Today, she says, there is still a stigma about mental health among people of color that makes women of color less likely than white women to access mental health services. For example, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health, mental health services are used by:

  • 21.5 percent of white women
  • 10.3 percent of black women
  • 9.2 percent of Hispanic women
  • 5.3 percent of Asian women.

But over the past several years, that has been changing, according to Jackman, who has made it her mission to destigmatize mental health services—and make it easier for people of color to access to therapists of color.

“There has been a real groundswell of people being more open about mental health issues, and understanding that therapy can be helpful,” Jackman said in a recent conversation with the Conferences for Women for Mental Health Awareness Month.

Superstar rapper Jay-Z has publicly spoken about the benefits of therapy; and Taraji Henson, the actress who appeared in Hidden Figures, started a foundation to help her father who suffered from PTSD.

Jackman also has been working to educate people of color about the benefits of therapy—and dismantle

The cultural message that if you seek therapy, it means you are crazy or weak;
The idea that you shouldn’t share family business with strangers; and
The cynicism bred of infamous historical events, such as the Tuskegee Experiment.

Another big obstacle that Jackman has been working to overcome is helping people find a therapist of color—since most people prefer to speak to someone from their own background.

This year, she launched a new nationwide directory that makes it easy. Check it out here.


More from the May 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life Balance, Health & Wellness Tagged , , |

The Expert Q&A on Mental Wellness

Joni YoungwirthWith Commonwealth Financial Network’s Joni Youngwirth

Q: This is clearly an important time to be thinking about wellness, given the extreme stress people are under as we adjust to the reality of a global pandemic. How do you think about mental wellness—and what are you doing now to keep your own mental wellness strong?

I am one who contracted COVID-19 early. Or at least my doctor and I think I did. I have not been tested because there are no tests. But since I returned from Amsterdam on March 9 because the event I was attending was closed when a participant tested positive for COVID-19, it stands to reason that’s what I had. I’ve now been symptom free for a week (in early April). During the height of my illness, I was taken by ambulance to the local ER and diagnosed with pneumonia. This all happened during the week I moved to a new residence in a new city. There I was, battling serious physical illness, having to deal with 911 knocking at my door and later trying to get prescribed meds while I was in isolation. Imagine having to text your kids from the ambulance, “I’m on my way to the ER. DON’T COME.” That is the type of stressful world we live in now. Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life Balance, Health & Wellness Tagged , |

How to Cultivate the Resilience We Need Now

Anne Grady

 

“If you’re naturally one of those super, über-productive people who are wondering why in the world you’re not getting a ton done or how to get it done, take a couple deep breaths. Reset your nervous system.”

Read More

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Posted in Podcasts, Embrace the Unknown, Health & Wellness, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women Tagged |

Tips for Managing Stress

Alice Boyes, Conference for Women speaker and author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit

How do we, as a community of working women, best deal with the growing stress that has suddenly been unleashed in our lives as a result of the coronavirus? To answer that question, we spoke with Alice Boyes, Conference for Women speaker and author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit. Here are her suggestions—followed by links to 3 sessions we hope you find helpful now:

  • “You generally want to control everything you can and accept everything you can’t.” For example, washing your hands is in your control. School closures are not. “People who do well in these scenarios,” she explained, “are people who can be flexible. They can problem-solve but also be accepting where being accepting is the only option.”
  • Make a short list of high-impact actions you can take to reduce your risk. Remember that too many ideas can lead to overwhelm. Then focus on emotional coping—things that help you keep calm and carry on. One of her favorites, for example, is restorative yoga.
  • Refrain from personalizing the impact of this crisis. “Whatever dilemmas you’re having, you’re not the only one.” We’re in this together and, in fact, it helps to remember your community and how we can help each other.
  • Be creative. If you were planning a spring break trip that you have to reschedule for the fall, consider your alternatives. For example, Boyes has been pitching a tent in the backyard with her four-year-old.
  • Finally, she suggested, remember that this is not our first rodeo. Crises are part of the human experience. And humans are remarkable about responding to them. In the end, they tend to bring out the best in us.

Do you have helpful thoughts to share with the Conference for Women community? Please send them to [email protected], and we’ll pass along highlights in our next newsletter.

THREE TALKS FOR THESE TIMES. With many of us now working from home, children out of school, fluctuations in the stock market, and all the other uncertainty we’re facing, we sorely need our community and wise words from women who know what it takes to be brave, resilient and even happy in difficult times. Here are links to 3 sessions we hope lift your spirits:

RESTORATIVE YOGA. Also, don’t miss these relaxing and restorative yoga moves to help you to slow down and get back to YOU!


More from the March 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Embrace the Unknown, Health & Wellness Tagged , |

Harness Resilience to Catapult Yourself Forward | 2019 Session

Women today face more stresses and strains, both professionally and personally, than ever before. But what if you could embrace life’s challenges in ways that enabled you to catapult yourself forward? Join resilience expert Anne Grady as she presents with a comedic spin her story of being forced to build resilience and how her life was transformed as a result. She will share the important tools to enable you to cultivate your ability to adapt, continually learn and establish a healthy relationship with key stressors.  Attendees will learn how to:

  • Identify triggers and self-defeating habits to proactively manage them;
  • Utilize brain-based strategies to improve emotional regulation and attention;
  • Identify personal and professional high pay-off activities and priorities; and
  • Take advantage of risk, change, and adversity to get back up faster and stronger

Read More

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Posted in Life on Your Terms, Life Balance, Health & Wellness, Breakout Session Tagged , , |

Viral Parenting: Raising Responsible Kids in an Online World | 2019 Session

Raising responsible, safe, and communicative kids in a digital world is challenging yet possible. And although children and teens may fight you, they are quietly begging for boundaries and for parents to set guidelines to help them navigate a complex and pressure filled online landscape.This session will offer practical tools to keep your kids safe in their online lives, and show you how to create stronger family relationships. Attendees will learn about privacy, bullying, respectfulness, and family time, as well as the importance of trust and open communication. These strategies are timeless–whether applied to texting, snapping, Facebooking, kiking, or whatever social media platforms await us in the future. Learn how to integrate family contracts, guided conversations, device checks, and other strategies for teaching children about personal responsibility and safety. Read More

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Posted in Health & Wellness, Breakout Session Tagged , , |

Babecamp Bootcamp: Lose Hate Not Weight | 2019 Session

Virgie Tovar put her life on hold for a VERY. LONG. TIME. She was always on a diet. She engaged in starving behavior, obsessive exercising, and no matter what she did she never felt good enough, pretty enough or thin enough. If this sounds familiar this is the session for YOU – because everyone deserves to have a harmonious relationship with their body. Designed by acclaimed body image expert Virgie Tovar, she will share her personal journey to help you finally break up with diet culture, adopt a healthy lifestyle and embrace a positive body image wherever you on in your journey! Learn how to replace a weight consumed mentality and re-center yourself with self-care and self-love, which are the touchstones of our native relationship to our body. Read More

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Posted in Life on Your Terms, Health & Wellness, Breakout Session Tagged , , |

ENCORE | Resilience Reset: Break Barriers and Thrive | 2019 Session

Success in today’s complex workplace requires the ability to  navigate change, rise above adversity, and triumph – all of which requires resilience and positivity. Kristen Balboni will open this session with a brief presentation on resiliency. A panel of experts will then take the stage and offer personal experiences, invaluable nuggets and tools that will empower you to embrace rather than avoid challenge, face adversity head-on and inspire greatness in yourself and others. Attend this session for a resilience reset and discover how to break through barriers to survive and thrive, especially in difficult times. Read More

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Posted in Embrace the Unknown, Life Balance, Health & Wellness, Breakout Session Tagged , , , , , |

Handling Conflict at Work | 2019 Session

Every day, we navigate a workplace full of competing interests, clashing personalities, limited time and resources, and fragile egos. We work differently. We rub each other the wrong way. We jockey for position. Attend this session and learn how you can deal with conflict at work in a way that is both professional and productive—improving both your work and your relationships. HBRs leading expert on conflict Amy Gallo will present the latest research and then lead a conversation with a panel of professionals to explore strategies to manage emotions, engage in difficult conversations, achieve resolution and much more! Read More

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Posted in Communication Skills, Health & Wellness, Breakout Session Tagged , , , , , |
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