Being a mother is not easy.
It’s morning, and there’s lots to do, from the second the alarm goes off: I have to get myself and my son up, showered, and dressed, and then run downstairs to pack lunches and sign agendas, before we’re off and out the door to school and work. Some days we have breakfast before we leave; some days my son eats breakfast at school and I don’t eat until lunchtime and my body is practically begging me to feed it something other than lukewarm coffee with cream and Splenda.
And before I know it, the work day is over and I’m back in the car, headed to my son’s baseball practice or class. Or, if I’m lucky, I’m headed home so that I can make beef stroganoff or spaghetti—two working mom dinner staples, am I right?
Before I go to bed, there’s household work to be done, homework to help with, classwork for myself, projects for my internship, and preparations for tomorrow’s day of work and school.
I love this work, but I couldn’t do what I do without support—from my family, my friends, and my employer.
More than 70% of of mothers work outside of the home, and 40% of mothers are the primary source of income in homes with children under the years of 18 years old. And despite all of this, women are still making only 78% of what men are making—and American companies, by and large, aren’t stepping up to help out.
That’s what this new organization is working to change. If you haven’t yet heard of Maybrooks, you will soon.
What is Maybrooks?
Maybrooks is a free online database that works to make information about company policies accessible to women and mothers who are looking for a job.
On the database, women can search for companies with flexible work schedules, high numbers of women employees, and a generous amount of maternity leave. While the site’s main purpose is a resource for women searching for professional careers with these benefits, Maybrooks founder Stacey Delo also wants the tool to encourage companies to “offer policies that help keep women in the workforce.”
The United States is one of only two countries in the world that doesn’t have federally mandated standards for paid maternity leave. As a result, the policies and benefits available for new parents widely vary from company to company. This information can be difficult for employees (or prospective employees) to find—and can, at times, lead to women leaving the workforce, because their industry doesn’t appear willing to support them.
While companies like Yahoo have made it into the headlines for their maternity policies, policies for other companies are not as readily available. Maybrooks is working at the source of the problem, to help women in the long-term.
How Does Maybrooks Work?
If you’re new to Maybrooks, think of it as Glassdoor, but for mothers: Maybrooks allows users to anonymously submit information on their website to contribute to the database. Users can answer a few quick questions based on their own experiences at a company. The questions include topics such as maternity leave, pump rooms, and daycare options.
Want to hear how company policies actually play out in real time, from women who are current or former employees? Maybe the company offers a pumping station, but it’s hard to reach or overcrowded. Or maybe the boss is a working mother herself. That’s valuable information that’s often hard to access—and it’s also a unique benefit that Maybrooks can provide.
The database is continually growing to include more companies, meaning more women are getting the information they need.
Making Public the Information You Need
A growing database not only puts more information out there for employees; it puts pressure on companies to change unfavorable policies. A company can’t hide behind outdated policies when it’s clear they’re falling behind from their peers.
Maybrooks holds companies accountable for their policies by bringing these policies into the spotlight.
What kind of world is Maybrooks pushing for? Ideally, all companies should make these items a priority in their employee policies:
1. Provide responsible paid maternity leave.
Many companies offer 6-8 weeks of paid maternity leave. But let’s be honest: it’s not enough time for a new mother to bond with her newborn baby and also prepare to go back to work. Some companies have realized this, and have planned accordingly: Google, Cisco, and Ernst & Young offer an astounding 5-10 months of paid maternity leave—and paternity leave, to boot.
You can use Maybrooks to search for other companies like these.
2. Offer specific nursing rooms for women who need to pump.
According to the Department of Labor, employees who work for FLSA covered companies who are not exempt from section 7 (political jargon here), are entitled to breaks to express milk.
The good news? The Department of Labor suggests that employees, regardless of their FLSA status, should allow nursing mothers the opportunity to pump. Some offices have nursing rooms available already—and that number should grow.
You can search for nursing benefits on Maybrooks, as well.
3. Offer equal pay for equal work.
According to The White House, the average woman will lose $420,000 over her lifetime because of the pay gap between men and women. This recent TIME article looks back at women’s pay in the 1960s and while we’ve come a long way, there’s still a lot of work to be done—it’s 2015 and the pay gap still exists.
This has little to do with women’s worth in a company (or even a woman’s ability to bear children!), and more to do with outdated policies and perceptions. Companies should take care to make equal pay a basic necessity—and that’s something that Maybrooks is helping to make more clear. Companies like Reddit (under interim CEO Ellen Pao’s leadership) are getting rid of salary negotiation entirely, which may be a strong step in the right direction.
4. Make childcare and flex-work a top priority.
Companies should consider taking a page out of Kellogg’s childcare initiative policies. Their headquarters boasts a nearby childcare center and babysitting reimbursements when parents need to attend work-related trips.
Even if a company doesn’t offer childcare, childcare initiatives are always a plus—getting the conversation going is a small step towards making a big change.
Maybrooks allows working mothers to search for companies that offer childcare at or near their offices. This helps working mothers to be able to do right by their families and by their employers—and benefits all working parents, regardless of gender.
5. Hire more women—specifically, working moms.
Maybrooks clearly shows which companies have a solid track record in hiring women and working moms, so you can have a sense of the company’s culture, right off the bat.
Having women in the office is a no-brainer: More women within a company has proven to lead to greater team efficiency and assurance—and working mothers often boost an office’s institutional culture, by increasing flexibility, prioritization, and communication.
My point of all of this? I consider myself one of the fortunate full-time working moms. I have excellent benefits, a boss and company who understand the importance of creating functional work-life balance, and family and friends who are always willing to help. My life as a working mom is rewarding and I love every second of it.
But most working moms aren’t as lucky as I am. They don’t have a flexible work schedule or generous maternity leave policies or childcare available to them—things that are vital in creating support for women in professional careers. We need to continue raising awareness for childcare, generous maternity leave policies, and equal pay, and tools like Maybrooks are doing just that.
For more information on Maybrooks, companies who put families first, and efforts on equal pay, follow along these campaigns on Twitter: #EqualPayDay and #workingmoms. And mothers, add your perspective to Maybrooks’ database, or search for your company—it’s free to join.
Becca Tuck is a senior at Kennesaw State University studying Technical Communication. She’s a true crime show enthusiast, podcast junkie, and animal lover, who loves soaking in as much knowledge on linguistic phenomenons as she can. When not at the baseball fields cheering on her two favorite baseball players, you can find her on her website or on Twitter at @beccatuck85.