You might have heard that LinkedIn is adding 'Stay-at-Home Mom' as a job title?
As a full time working mom who only took a few months maternity leave, myself, I can still see why this is such a welcome addition to the popular networking platform.
But will this really make any difference to perceptions? And will mothers actually add this to their professional CV? The jury is out...
Phillipa Geard, CEO of RecruitMyMom, told Parent24 it's an exciting indication that LinkedIn has caught up with the times.
"It should be completely normal practice for a woman to put 'stay-at-home mom' on their CV. Being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) is a full-time job," she says.
She elaborates that like any job, being a stay at home mom develops various skills, many of them being soft skills that this new world of remote working so desperately needs, like collaboration, empathy, dedication, attention to detail, commitment and peace-making.
Geard adds that she expects to see these gaps on the CV's of female candidates at her local recruitment company, RecruitMyMom, which targets moms returning to the workforce, and those looking for flexible options.
A vote of confidence
So how will this change things for local working moms who might have taken time off work to raise their kids?
Geard says that when companies as big as LinkedIn acknowledge that being a stay at home mom is an official job title, it's a vote of confidence for moms, globally and locally.
"Where moms agonise over whether they should take a career break or not, this type of acknowledgement will dispel the fear of being stigmatised for having a break," she says.
Like New Zealand and the UK, some countries seem to be fairly open to the idea that moms take time off to be with their kids and then return to their careers.
In South Africa it seems less common, or at least moms are less likely to proudly explain this gap in their CV or admit to being out of the workforce for a long period of time.
Geard agrees, explaining that paid parental leave eligibility in New Zealand is 26 weeks and in the UK up to 39 weeks, compared to South Africa where paid parental/maternity leave is the employers choice.
"Having a government that not only legislates the length of parental leave but legislates paid leave, helps a society accept that moms will take off a significant amount of time from work when having a baby. It's the norm," Geard says.
In South Africa, many moms will often opt for a minimum of six weeks leave, because there is a financial incentive to return as quickly as possible, she goes on.
"For many moms, if they take a longer break they are fearful of being able to get back into the job market. A perception still exists among some employers that women who take off time to raise their kids are not serious about their careers," she says.
She adds that this of course, is their own loss, as these women when returning to work or given the opportunity to work more flexibly are dedicated, loyal and highly productive.
Parent24 asked local mothers what they thought of this update to the networking site, and this is what they shared with us...
Kirsty, a mom of three who has always stayed at home with her children, shared that she doesn't know if it will normalise taking time off because those issues are more deep-seated in people's identity and perception and what it means to stay at home with your kids.
"I don't know if just a title on LinkedIn is going to change that. I think a lot more in culture and society would have to change. If I start working one day I'd probably have to use that option, because that's been a major part of my life" she says.
Kirsty adds that if you take your role of motherhood seriously in running your home, then you do learn a lot of valuable skills. "They say moms are really organised and good at multitasking because they have to be. I know I've learned to multitask and do so many things at once," she says.
Suitable for a mum
Mom of two, Gaynor, says she would probably would not add SAHM as job title. She took six years off to raise her children, and now works part time at a company in Wellington, New Zealand, after the family moved there from South Africa two years ago.
"I have a line at the beginning of my CV explaining the gap as I was a full time carer for my young children," she says. "I can't compare South Africa to New Zealand in terms of going back to work as I didn't go back to work in South Africa, but in my experience there are far more opportunities in New Zealand for part time work."
"I have seen loads of jobs advertised here where they specifically say it would suit a mum returning to work as it offers flexible hours and so on. There are also loads of job shares, so one role would be shared by two mums. I didn't ever come across that in South Africa. I also genuinely feel that New Zealand does not "punish" mums for the gap in their CV. Not once was this an issue in any of my job applications here or when meeting recruitment agents. I feel like in South Africa, there are so many people competing for the same job that perhaps this would have counted against me."
Working mom Deborah says the more stay-at-home moms who own their career in a professional way the better, to acknowledge the reality. "And once the SAHM is 'retrenched' and needs to look for a new job, acknowledging her experience in logistics, coordination, team management and managing a budget would be awesome," she adds.
Natalie, a single mom, says being a stay-at-home mom is definitely worth mentioning, especially when wanting to return to the working world, part time or full time.
"It is worth recognising the skill set that it takes to run a household, not unlike that of a manager or even CEO of a small company. Allowing it to be described as a job title allows for change of mindset around staying home," she says.
So whether this will take off in South Africa remains to be seen, but in the meantime... when will LinkedIn add stay-at-home Dad as a job title?
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