Arianna Huffington says companies don’t always know what their female employees need—unless women tell them.
“Women should feel free to speak up about what is important to them,” said the former editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post and current CEO of Thrive Global, during a panel discussion at the New York Times‘ Women in the World Summit on Thursday. Huffington added that many female employees at Thrive Global have expressed the desire to take their children to school early in the morning—at time that usually conflicts with work.
“If the team knows that, they can arrange the schedule around conference calls, etcetera, accordingly. But women have been reluctant to say that because they feel they are going to be categorized of being on the ‘mommy track,'” she said.
But that fear isn’t necessarily illegitimate. Women typically suffer workplace-related consequences after having a child, commonly known as the “Motherhood Penalty.” Research shows that new moms are perceived to have lower competence and commitment, and they face higher professional expectations and a lower chance of hiring and promotion when compared with men and childless women.
Fellow panelist Miki Tsusaka, the managing director of the Boston Consulting Group, stressed the importance of men helping out with household chores—something that women have been found to spend nearly twice as much time as men on. Women are often expected to take care of most of the household work, Tsusaka said, sometimes to the point where it becomes another “job” on top of the one that they might already have.
Indeed, data from a 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics study found that 50% of women across the United States reported doing household chores on an average day, compared to only 22% of men—an imbalance that could be damaging women’s health.
As for improving the work-life balance, panelist Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of Youtube, called on men to help. “We need our male leaders to embrace and support women across the board,” she said. “I feel like I’ve benefited from different men reaching out and supporting me.”