It’s harder to be a working parent in the U.S. than in any other developed country in the world. But it doesn’t have to be this way. This series will feature the entrepreneurs, employee activists, researchers, business leaders, advocates and more who are creating a better future for all of us by elevating and resourcing parents at work.
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."
The Rise of Employee Activists
Sarah Johal, who had founded and was leading the parents group at Lyft, said listening to the other women talk about their experiences made her see the universal nature of the challenges working moms face. She was surprised to discover that “it doesn’t matter what size a company is, or where they are in their life cycle. As working moms we were all facing similar biases and opportunities. It was very inspiring to know that I wasn’t alone in my desire to create change,” she told me.
Lori Mihalich-Levin started the US parent (now caregiver) affinity group at Dentons, the largest law firm in the world. While Lori was leading this group in their advocacy efforts, Dentons eliminated the “primary caregiver” distinction in its parental leave policy, adopted Milk Stork as a benefit for nursing mothers, and worked to ensure that all employees of the firm - not just lawyers -- had access to support and benefits.
The Rise of Employee Activists
In 2013, Melissa Kepler was pregnant and standing in the hallway at her workplace, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, asking another mom to help her understand all of the complicated details associated with having a child while working at a federal agency. Mel, who had had another child while working at the same agency only one year earlier, was still baffled by the process. When it became apparent that her friend was also struggling to make sense of it all, Mel decided to do something about it. She began bringing other parents together to share resources, create community, and engage in internal advocacy. In 2015, the group became official and was the first employee-led parents group inside a federal agency.
This piece focuses on women who are employee activists: Mel Kepler, Sarah Johal, Lori Mihalich-Levin, and all of the women in the Parents in Tech Alliance and the Working Parent Group Network. All of these women started or currently lead the parent groups within their organizations, and have used their leadership of these groups to advocate for better conditions for working parents and caregivers.
Ten years ago, there were virtually no organized parent groups inside workplaces. Today, there are hundreds of them. And many of them are having a significant impact within their organizations.
Our Nation’s Childcare Crisis
The goal of the Women Making History series is to give visibility and voice to the growing movement to change the game for working parents.
It’s harder to be a working parent in the U.S. than in any other developed country in the world. But it doesn’t have to be this way. This series features the entrepreneurs, employee activists, researchers, business leaders, advocates and more who are creating a better future for all of us by elevating and resourcing parents at work.
The first woman in our series is Shadiah Sigala.
As the co-founder of two successful, venture-backed companies, and the first person in her Mexican-American family to go to college, Shadiah Sigala has overcome many obstacles.
And she’s committed to helping other women do the same.