Christine Michel Carter
Part 3 in a Series of Features: Leaders Making History by Changing the Game for Working Parents. (Championing financial equity for moms of color)
As a single black mother who had been told by a seasoned professional that she would never make more than $30,000 a year, Christine's ability to rise above the challenges she's faced gives me hope for the future. Especially because she’s also committed to helping other mothers--particularly mothers of color--do the same.
I had been following Christine Michel Carter's publications and comments on social media for quite some time before we met last year while speaking on a panel together.
I was impressed by much of what she's written, and by her bold byline: "THE #1 GLOBAL VOICE FOR WORKING MOMS."
When I asked her how she came to claim this title for herself, she said, “I worked hard to earn it.”
A fact that can be sustained because she’s written two books on Amazon’s bestsellers list, contributed to ForbesWomen for four years writing about mothers in the workplace, and has been featured in The New York Times and Washington Post for her work to advocate for all mothers.
Working with the Congressional Caucus on Black Women & Girls, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on maternal and child care related issues, Christine often finds herself representing the voice of Black moms. Most recently she’s even worked on the maternal initiatives of Vice President Kamala Harris including the Maternal CARE Act.
Permission to claim your power is something that Christine Michel Carter believes can be passed down.
“The women who I consider my mentors are confident and have encouraged that same strength in me. There’s nothing wrong with highlighting our accomplishments, which is something I think women struggle with. We don’t want to seem like we are bragging, but for me, I discuss them because it proves I deserve to be in the room.”
“We deserve a seat at the table,” she said.
Inspired by Christine’s confidence, and her commitment to using her power to elevate others, I nominated Christine to join the community of FamTech founders I started and now co-lead. She jumped in and now serves on our advisory council and has been investing much of her time and energy in galvanizing our community. Our collective power, she believes, has enormous potential. She’s also invested in supporting the individual founders in our network, particularly the female founders who are enabling better problem solving, introducing groundbreaking innovation, and valuing diverse talent.
“Women see things differently, especially tech-focused solutions for families, as more often than not they’re on the ‘front lines’ with children,” she said.
For example, Christine is an investor in Cradlewise, a FamTech company founded by a mom of color, and recently named the Editors’ Choice and Best Family Tech at CES 2021 and one of TIME’s Best Inventions in 2020.
Today, our community of FamTech founders includes over 150 members from across the country who are all working together to change the game for working parents, families, and caregivers. Women like Christine bring our mission to fruition.
Her leadership serving as a connector to give greater visibility to critically important communities might be best represented by her role co-founding last June's first-ever State of Black Mothers In America conference. Sponsored by Google, McDonald's, and several other organizations, it became the largest conference dedicated to this audience in the world with nearly 2,000 attendees.
She gathered thought leaders to speak on maternal mental health, advocacy, employment and self-care during a time when many states had stay-at-home orders, police brutality was in the spotlight, and America’s long-standing presence of systemic racism and institutionalized oppression had finally become visible in a way that few could ignore.
The charge for the event “how we heal and move forward, together” was unquestionably matched. I attended and was deeply moved by the authentic support, community, and empowerment the conference offered attendees.
And she did it again in 2011!
Christine, along with Blessing Adesiyan, the founder of Mother Honestly, and Neferteri Plessy, the creator of Single Moms Planet, hosted the second annual The State Of Black Mothers In America in June of 2011.
With this conference, they decided to tackle a critical issue for Black moms in a rather unique way.
“We’ve heard loud and clear that white allies would like to support or invest in Black-owned female businesses, but they’re not quite certain where to find these entrepreneurs or how to support their businesses,” Christine said.
That’s why they decided to give three Black mom entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their existing business or product for a grant from event sponsors.
Access to capital is a major predictor of business success, but Black business owners who apply for funding have a rejection rate three times higher than that of their white counterparts. Black mom entrepreneurs are more likely to cite access to credit, inadequate funding, denied loans and higher interest rates as challenges with starting and sustaining a business. Because it’s harder for Black moms to get financial backing, they find it difficult to weather economic duress, reach scalability and pivot away from unsustainable business models.
Christine has decided that it’s time for this to change. She’s giving other women permission to claim their power by helping them gain access to financial support.
Christine also recognizes that Black moms working inside companies struggle financially. As a recent article in Forbes featured: “Black women earn only $0.63 cents per $1.00 earned by white non-Hispanic men. Black mothers are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to be their families’ main breadwinners, at 68% vs. 37% for white mothers. Over 50% of Black mothers are also caring for an aging family member at the same time. And these family caregivers spend more than 34% of their annual income on expenses related to providing care.”
To address the lack of equity faced by Black working moms, Christine has also been working closely with the tech-enabled parent support business Maven to roll out their employer engagement strategy. In this role, she’s seen first-hand how employers are beginning to recognize the intersectionality of race, gender, and caregiving.
“From Target to Cisco,” she told me, “it’s been incredible to hear how HR leaders of national organizations are investing tremendous time and effort to carefully design employee benefits and programs mid and post-pandemic.”
Some of our country’s biggest employers are focused on understanding and addressing the needs of working moms and underrepresented groups in a time of uncertainty and rapid change.
It’s time to recognize that we must support our moms - especially moms of color.
Here’s to the champions for change, like Christine, who are working to amplify the rallying cry.
Do you know a woman who is making history by changing the game for working parents? Let us know.
Want more information about Christine, or to contact her? You can reach out here.