Everywhere I look at work these days—the break room, the lobby, even my office chair—fliers and signs are proclaiming McGraw-Hill, my employer, one of the 2007 Working Mother 100 Best Companies .
Normally, I look at best and worst lists with a lot of disdain. (I’m one of those cynical journalists.) But this time around, bragging rights are in order: Not only is McGraw Hill on Working Mother’s list for the third year in a row, in 2007 we broke into the top-10 ranks.
Maybe I’ve drunk the Kool Aid, but I’m actually proud to work at one of the best companies for working moms. It’s certainly been an outstanding experience for me and my family. In the past three years as a working mom, I’ve taken advantage of many family-friendly benefits at my company, but my personal favorite is flextime.
Since I returned from seven months of maternity leave in May 2005, I have worked at home on Wednesdays. The two hours I save commuting back and forth to the office on Wednesdays mean that I can spend more time with my toddler son.
Wednesday is typically date night for me and my little guy—either we make pizza together at home, or we go for the early-bird special at a local restaurant. It’s so nice not to rush home from the office and whip up dinner one evening during the work week. Of course, I have to be flexible, too—some Wednesdays I need to go into the office for meetings, but I don’t mind because it doesn’t happen a lot. Flextime is a perk that keeps me extremely loyal to McGraw-Hill.
Although flextime isn’t universal across Corporate America yet, it’s one of the things workers who have it covet the most. In fact, a recent study found workers who telecommute from home or elsewhere report the highest levels of satisfaction with their jobs and the most loyalty to their employers. I am certainly one of them.
At this point, I think it is important to note that I was a cheerleader in high school, albeit a lame one. While my 40-year-old legs may no longer look as cute in a red and white kilt, my rah-rah spirit lingers. So when co-workers question our company’s family-friendly policies, I go into cheerleader mode. Just the other day I reminded one female colleague how lucky we are to have back-up, in-home daycare—something she benefited from when her nanny went on maternity leave.
Of course, there’s always room for improvement. Looking at the other companies that grace Working Mother’s top-10 rankings, I see quite a few benefits and policies I’d love my employer to bring into the fold: Ernst & Young, for example, helps women make the transition back to work after parental leave with a formal Working Moms Network. I’m also envious of companies with extensive leave policies: In January, PriceWaterhouseCoopers added three additional paid weeks of maternity leave. Most of my maternity leave was unpaid.
At end of the day, I’m also a realist. No one ever said work would be Nirvana for working moms, but it certainly helps to be happy with what you have.