Last week, the uber popular blog Scary Mommy posted a story called, “Why I Second Guess Hiring Moms,” Written by Judy Honigfort, owner of a Great Harvest Bread Company franchise, her blog post talks about the experience of interviewing a stay-at-home mom for a job position. The job candidate is looking for a position that “will provide some cash…give you a sense of connection, of contributing…remind you that you have half a brain, and are capable of using it.” All of these are valid reasons to want to reenter the workforce.
But then here’s the capper, for Honigfort, anyway: The candidate says, “I want a schedule that works for my family.”
And, just like that, the goodwill between working mothers is all but obliterated.
Honigfort rattles off a list of demands that this supposed job candidate asks for, which includes, but is not limited to, not being able to work evenings and weekends, and how she would like two weeks off in the summer for family vacations.
Well, that, to us, sounds like a regular job, and not something to balk at at all.
Sure, the job candidate cannot work on Thursdays because she helps out in her kids’ classrooms, and she also volunteers for at a local food pantry every other Friday. All noble things, really. But Honigfort has already tuned out this candidate, as she thinks about how her own kids are eating chips and bean dip for dinner—again.
Thing is, Honigfort realizes the massive potential of working moms. She rattles off a laundry list of virtues, including how moms are customer service pros; they are team players; they are fierce and know how to sell product, particularly hers. So why did this poor job candidate not even have a chance?
Because she asked for what she needed. She asked for work flexibility.
Honigfort concludes her post with this: “Moms, you’re phenomenal. I’d love to hire you. If only you’d work with me.”
It seems that she is shooting herself in the foot—and directly (and negatively) into her business’ bottom line. Yes, employees need to work with their bosses, but bosses also need to learn to work with their staff, too. By giving employees work flexibility, Honigfort would be ensuring a loyal, dedicated, hard-working staff that would live up to her expectations of the potential of working mothers—and probably even surpass them.
There can be no case of working mother sour grapes, of that icky competition that occurs between working moms to see who can work the hardest and take care of their kids the best, followed by the subsequent negative feelings that arise when one realizes that, without some sort of flexible schedule, it’s virtually impossible to do both well.
Apart from being negative and hostile, Honigfort’s post puts work flexibility back about ten years, too. It not only discourages working mothers (and frankly, any potential job seeker) from asking for a flexible schedule, but it frightens them into thinking that they probably don’t deserve it, either. After all, if your boss has poor time management skills and as a result her kids have to eat bean dip and chips for dinner, then yours should suffer the same fate as well.
But it doesn’t stop there. There is another factor to consider, which is that it’s illegal in the U.S. to make a hiring decision based on someone’s personal life. By specifically slanting her post to chastise working moms, Honigfort is potentially opening herself up to a slew of legal issues down the road.
If Honigfort wants to truly capitalize on the great potential of working mothers, then she would do well to join the thousands of other companies that offer work flexibility and start making it a part of her company’s corporate culture. All it takes is some simple planning and coordinating, which she can surely do. Until then, no amount of bread-baking is going to cover up the bad smell that her Scary Mommy post has left behind.
photo credit: thinkstockphotos.com