The term “mommy track” refers to a concept that has been around for generations. All too often, women are placed in positions within an organization that are less critical so that if and when they leave to have children the impact on the business is minimized. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that these jobs traditionally tend to pay less and have fewer responsibilities than those held by men.
But all that is changing. Forward thinking organizations are recognizing that women can contribute just as much – if not more – to their financial success. So they are making changes in the way women are placed within an organization. Today, women are breaking through the proverbial “glass ceiling” that has traditionally kept them out of the C-suite.
Women All-Star CEOs
And they are increasingly taking lead roles in important companies. Think we’re exaggerating? Consider this all-star lineup of blue chip companies now run by women CEOs:
Hewlitt-Packard – As CEO, Meg Whitman has helped the company increase its sales for the first time in three years.
DuPont Chemical – When Ellen Kullman took over as CEO, the US’s biggest chemical company was in the midst of a 10-year slump. Now the business is moving into an ever diversified field of businesses, including nutrition, advanced materials, and bioscience.
Lockheed-Martin – Under CEO Marillyn Hewson’s tutelage, the aerospace and defense contractor has posted record operating profits and earnings despite a 4% drop in revenues.
PepsiCo – In the first three years of CEO Indra Nooyi’s reign over the food and beverage conglomerate, PepsiCo has launched such as Starbucks Iced Coffee, Muller Quaker Yogurt, and Mountain Dew Kickstart, which together account for 9% of the company’s total revenues.
General Motors – As the auto industry’s first female CEO, Mary Barra faced a lot of scrutiny. Her first major job: Preside over the company’s largest recall in its history.
IBM – Even “Big Blue”, long considered the most conservative of all US big ticket companies, is now run by a woman. And CEO Ginni Rometty is keeping the computer giant at the top of its industry, despite falling revenues and a rapidly changing business environment.
Then there’s the nation’s biggest CEO position, the US presidency, an office that could very well be held by a woman after the 2016 elections if Hillary Rodham Clinton gets her way.
Same Old ‘Mommy Track’?
It’s obvious that women are enjoying a level of recognition within practically every industry that was once unimaginable. So isn’t it time that the “mommy track” changed as well?
Consider what’s happening over at Vodafone, one of the leading companies in the telecommunications industry. Last March, company officials announced that beginning later in 2015, all of its female workers will be able to take up to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. Then, when they return to work, they will be given the option of working a 30-hour week at full pay for up to six months.
The thinking behind this dramatic shift is that Vodafone and other leading companies are losing too many valuable employees – who happen to be women – to the duties involved with raising children. By paving the way for women to return to the workplace more easily, corporate leaders hope to retain top talent and jettison even more female leaders into the board room.
Women in Leadership Roles
There is a growing body of evidence that suggest that women in the C-suite are doing as good a job as male CEOs – if not better. Just look at that list of companies that already have put their trust in female leaders.
So it’s important that companies look at new and innovative ways of retaining women employees while still giving them the opportunity to take time off to have and raise their children. The “Mommy Track” doesn’t just lead to the maternity ward anymore. These days, it also could lead to the board room.