An open letter to CEOs and Executives

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I’m writing on behalf of working parents across the globe.  

To put it bluntly, we are at breaking point and we really, really need your support.

As parents, we’re pretty good at just getting on with the job, but at the moment, getting on with anything seems like a colossal — almost impossible — task. Right now, the working parent juggle feels like nothing but a struggle. It’s straight survival mode and the last 2 years have broken us. We are burnt out and scrambling to work in this ‘new normal’. A world where parents are promised flexibility and to work from home, but are met with mixed messages from their employers. 

It’s an endless cycle, and the pressure to do all the things well, all the time, feels insurmountable. 

“This post-covid world is the hardest bit of the pandemic so far.  The risk of us getting sick is high, the risk of the kids getting sick is even higher, but the support for any of us now feels non-existent….” – parent

That’s why I’m calling on you as CEOs and Executives and asking: what are you doing in your organization to help us as we drown in work and family life? 

Working parents need support. They want to feel heard, they want to feel supported and they want to work for an organization that cares. Cares beyond just a policy. 

As co-founder at Circle In, we recently ran a survey of over 450 caregivers and found that 7 out of 10 are simply not coping, and 1 in 3 are thinking of leaving their current employer.

What’s more, 2021 research by McKinsey showed that parents were more likely to have left their jobs than non-parent colleagues.  They cited caring for family in their top 5 reasons for leaving the job. 

I’ll say it again, working parents need support. It’s a conversation not had loudly enough in the workplace.

I’ve connected with hundreds of other [burnt out/overwhelmed/stressed out parents], so I’m talking for all of us when I implore you to show up as a true empathetic leader.

What does this look like?

Of course, comprehensive flexible working policies are critical, but it’s more than that. 

Hear us and lead with compassion and understanding. Understanding that we are in unprecedented times and may need to work odd hours. Understanding that we may need to adjust our workloads to manage our caregiving responsibilities.

There are other things, too.

Creating and championing employer resource groups shows us that you genuinely care and listen.  They’re great places to air frustrations, and share tips and information.  A safe space to let out a collective sigh.

Simple shifts in company culture go a long, long way.  Ask us, “Are you okay?” Check-in at the start of each week…each day… to see where we are at and then adjust plans accordingly.

You know we will make it work.  We’re good for it.  And if you want to hear from others, read some comments below on a post of mine that has attracted more than 500,000 views. 

I know many of you are in the same boat, but as leaders, we really need your help to steer this ship back on course.

In good faith,

Jodi Geddes
Co-founder at Circle in

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“There is already a lot of pressure trying to balance it all, but add sickness and it is a battle. The constant judgment along with the constant pressure you put on yourself is too much.” – parent

“These situations put so much stress on working parents who feel like they are doing their jobs or their kids a disservice (or both).” – parent

“Not only is it the never-ending sickness, it’s the fact that you really want to try your best to impress…but are met with these kinds of roadblocks.  Trying to concentrate when you have Cocomelon blaring in the background isn’t ideal.” – parent

“It’s a cycle of hell, and right when you are trying to get your career and identity back as a working parent.” – parent

“The struggle is real! This is where flexibility is a key enabler for working parents.” – parent

“Flexibility means being understanding and helping your team through those times.” – parent

“My kids are home sick. They’ve been home for three days so far, and I’m finding it extremely triggering. It’s just like lockdown again. Endless devices, needs, wants, food, washing up. All amongst trying to work. It never ends.” – parent

“As a single mom, after 2 years of Covid and homeschooling and daycares being closed, I was exhausted. I still am. Checking in with us is something that should be embedded in the culture rather than being told to make a choice between career and other commitments i.e. family. Not all single working moms and dads have the same home situation and supports. Let’s remember that when we talk to our staff and coworkers and be empathetic to their conditions.” – parent

“Juggling children and a career is tough at the best of times. The mental load is taxing and when they are unwell it really does take its toll on the entire family. We like to think that flex work and hybrid ways of working make it easier, but sadly it can be just as difficult – if not, more difficult.” – parent

Can’t remember a time my husband and I have been working and 100% healthy after having babies. Check-in with your people and offer them time to rest and recover offline. The Teams mute buttons cover up the coughing and sneezing and sighing but they’re still there.” – parent

“I think 90% of my personal leave has been taken up by one tiny human.” – parent

“This “post-Covid” world is the hardest bit of the pandemic so far.” – parent 

“This is such a phenomenon right now, even more so since transitioning back post lockdown. We start each week understanding where each team member is with them and their family’s health and then adjust the week accordingly to share the load. That old saying it takes a village has never been more true. It’s up to us as leaders to bring the village into life and hold our empathy at the front of our habits.” – parent

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Thank you for being a progressive leader and supporting your working caregivers.

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