Empowering single mothers for a successful future: a call to CEOs and HR leaders

- June 23, 2023 4 MIN READ


In today’s ever-evolving business landscape, single mothers face unique challenges as they strive to secure a prosperous future for themselves and their children, writes Jenny Gurry, founder and Executive Director of Diamond Women.

As business leaders, HR professionals and CEOs, you hold the key to implementing strategies that address the fears and obstacles faced by single mothers. Businesses can foster an inclusive environment that empowers these women and helps them regain their confidence and financial independence.

Creating a supportive work environment and culture

The first pivotal step is to provide a genuinely flexible workspace. Recognising that single mothers have diverse scheduling needs enables businesses to accommodate their preferences. By offering flexible work hours and locations, businesses can empower mothers to effectively manage their responsibilities at home while they make meaningful contributions to the business.

However, entry-level positions must also be available that provide pathways for career advancement. Offering growth opportunities and pathways can allow women to relearn and develop their skills while on the job, thereby regaining professional confidence and contributing to the organisation’s growth.

Cultivating a supportive culture or a ‘family’ within the workplace, where employees support and assist one another to promote a culture of psychological safety, business leaders create an environment that nurtures personal growth and professional development.

Establishing in-house mentorship programs to guide single mothers through their career journeys enables individual mentors to champion progress and provide guidance to overcome any obstacles individuals may face. This personalised support system ensures they have someone to hold them accountable, advocate for their career growth, and provide valuable advice.

The importance of upskilling for single mothers

Promoting skills development and offering in-house training during business hours adds value to the business and the individual. Businesses can equip single mothers with up-to-date qualifications, expanding their employment options and improving their long-term financial security. It also empowers them and boosts their self-worth and personal fulfilment.

This positive impact on their mental health enhances their overall wellbeing, enables them to serve as role models for their children, and promotes a pay-it-forward opportunity, inspiring the next generation to embrace education and personal growth.

They become more resilient to economic changes or shifts in job opportunities, ensuring they can seamlessly transition into alternative employment, thus reducing their vulnerability to financial setbacks and enhancing their employability.

It transforms the “Is this my life now?” question into “What if I …?” It allows exploring new possibilities and pursuing careers that align with their aspirations. Additionally, it will enable them to remain relevant in the ever-evolving job market, impacting their long-term financial planning, including superannuation.

Mother in business attire walking through city with baby in her arms

Overcoming challenges for single mothers

Many single mothers face challenges due to their self-perceived worth and skills gap. Some women never established careers before becoming mothers, making it difficult for them to find stimulating roles while accommodating their caregiving responsibilities.

Businesses can counteract this by recognising single mothers’ inherent value and resilience, offering opportunities for growth, and addressing any skills gaps through targeted training initiatives.

One significant obstacle for single mothers is the availability and affordability of childcare. Businesses can support single mothers by exploring partnerships or implementing initiatives that address these challenges, such as offering on-site childcare facilities or advocating for subsidised childcare services.

Then there’s the stigma. Single mothers often encounter difficulties transitioning into the workforce, and disclosing their status can result in missed opportunities for advancement. Businesses can combat these issues by implementing internal changes prioritising flexibility, career progression and inclusivity for single mothers.

The economic and personal significance

The re-engagement of single mothers in the workforce significantly benefits the economy. It reduces the burden on social welfare systems by decreasing the reliance on social assistance. By harnessing the skills and qualifications of single mothers, businesses also drive economic development and enhance workforce diversity while working towards reducing the gender pay gap.

The employment of single mothers also profoundly affects their self-worth and personal fulfilment. Contributing to the household income permits single mothers to invest in their children’s education, improve their standard of living and gain financial independence. The workplace provides opportunities for building friendships and forming a supportive community, enhancing individual wellbeing and personal growth.

Good for your business: Unlocking the value of hiring single mothers

It’s a two-way street, as accommodating single mothers demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and work-life balance, boosting employee engagement and satisfaction. Businesses thereby cultivate a sense of trust and belonging, reducing turnover and retaining top talent.

The inclusivity can attract a diverse pool of talent, including other groups and individuals with different challenges and responsibilities. This diversity brings fresh perspectives, creativity, and innovation to an organisation, offering a competitive advantage in today’s dynamic market.

That, in turn, builds a positive employer brand, attracting top talent and fostering brand loyalty among customers aligned with the organisation’s values.

Businesses should play a pivotal role in changing the narrative for single mothers and supporting their journey toward a secure and fulfilling future by unlocking the untapped potential to enrich their teams and the business.

As business leaders, HR leaders and CEOs, we can create positive change and drive meaningful progress by empowering single mothers to achieve their full potential in the workforce and their lives.

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Why working parents are a great asset to any business