Want a good employee? Hire a mom


When you find out you’re pregnant, you’re probably bursting to spill the beans to your partner, your BFF and your mom. One person you’re likely not looking forward to telling? Your boss. For many working women, the “motherhood penalty” is a very real problem: Research has shown that for every child a woman has, her earnings suffer by about five percent.

Add to that the conclusion of a new study—that women have to be nicer at work than men do—and it may not seem like a pretty picture. But, according to career coach Eileen Chadnick, the same skills that make us great moms make us assets in the office.

“This is not a weakness,” Chadnick told Motherly. “You do not need to compromise those beautiful skills of empathy and compassion.”

In the newly released study about how women’s attitudes influence their perceptions in the office place, the authors expressed concern that having to appear “nice” may further slow down a women’s advancement. For their research, which will be included in the forthcoming Human Resource Management journal, they analyzed how supervisors regarded more than 200 computer engineers at a multinational company. They then found that men who self-assessed as confident were more likely to be perceived as influential by colleagues. The women, on the other hand, were only perceived as influential if they were confident and demonstrated a level of concern for their colleagues.

According to Chadnick there’s nothing wrong with looking out for one’s coworkers—but there are a few other actionable ways women can stand out as leaders.

“There are incredibly nice, compassionate women who are very strong and know how to take a stand,” she said. “And they’re trusted and admired by others even if they need to say ‘no’ to their employees.”

In order to be seen as leaders—without constantly getting weighed down by the mental load of caretaking at work—Chadnick suggested working women instead concern themselves with authenticity. As she said, “There’s no reason why women cannot be assertive and liked all at the same time.”

In this way, who could possibly be more qualified than moms? (Raise your hand if you were successfully assertive with little one today! ?)

Thankfully, in her experience as a career coach, Chadnick said it seems more employers are recognizing the advantages of these unique qualities.

“Increasingly, smart organizations are hiring people for leadership roles who are able to grow their team,” she said. “That is not just their own self-confidence, but are they leaning in and developing others.”

And, if there’s one thing moms are great at, it’s helping others grow.

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Heather Marcoux

Heather Marcoux is the News Editor for Motherly and mom to one little boy. A former television journalist, Heather lives in Canada with her husband, son and a foursome of adorable pets.