One of the largest consulting companies in the world is making a major commitment – to moms.
Accenture will hire 150 mothers for positions at its Midwest division as soon as possible, the company tells CNN Business. The newly created positions will be in technology, strategy and consulting out of the company’s offices in Chicago. The company said the roles will offer the new hires flexibility, support, training and mentorship.
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To help find and hire candidates, Accenture is partnering with The Mom Project, a marketplace that connects professional women with companies. The Mom Project will screen applicants and put forward candidates for the roles. The organization said it is focusing on mothers who are unemployed and looking to make a career change.
“The jobs that we’re talking about for these moms are careers. They’re highly coveted roles in technology and in consulting, they’re the type of roles that enable them to support their family,” said Lee Moore, senior managing director for Accenture Midwest, who is heading up the partnership.
This comes at a time when women have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic. Women have lost 5.3 million jobs in the last year, compared to 4.6 million jobs lost by men. And some 2.5 million women have left the workforce all together, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Those of us in positions to do so must take bold action to reverse this backslide,” said Allison Robinson, co-founder and CEO of the Mom Project. “I think our partnership with Accenture sets such a strong message to corporate leaders across the country, and I hope it will embolden them to do more.”
In 2017, Accenture set a goal to become a gender equal workplace by 2025. Of its 514,000 global employees, 215,000 are women. The partnership with the Mom Project is one way the company believes it can reach their goal, and the 150 new hires is just the start, said Moore.
Nicole Conner felt lucky to be employed during most of the pandemic, working virtually in human resources and recruiting for a facilities management company.
But this fall, she says she was asked by her company to come back to the office full-time. She told them she couldn’t because her seven-year-old son Atticus was at home learning virtually. Then, she says, she was fired.
“I really have no choice but to have a remote job,” said Conner, who has been using the Mom Project’s platform for her job search.
Because she was fired, Conner said she is ineligible for unemployment. She said she and her son are surviving off food stamps and her student loans.
“I’m kind of at the point where it’s borderline desperation and I just need a remote job. At this point, it’s just click and apply, click and apply, and hope that something comes through,” said Conner.
Michelle Mitchom, a mother of four who lives outside of St. Louis, Missouri, was laid off in July. After a 10-year career in sales, her job search has also led her to apply for jobs she never considered before.
“I’ve been applying for any type of job. It doesn’t matter if it’s entry level, internships, if it’s janitorial, if it’s anything – I’ve been applying,” said Mitchom.
A former corporate trainer, Brooke Gasaway found herself unemployed and five months pregnant during the pandemic. Now that her son is six months old, she is looking for a job again, but not the way she used to.
“I’ve found myself at this moment applying for a lot of roles that are more junior than I would typically apply for simply because it feels safe that I know I’m overqualified,” said Gasaway.
‘A national emergency’
In an interview earlier this month, US President Joe Biden referred to the number of women leaving the workforce as a ‘national emergency.’ As part of his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, he is proposing $15 billion in grants to working families to pay for childcare. He also wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“It will enable parents, particularly women, to get back to work,” the President said during the unveiling of his ‘American Rescue Plan.’
The Mom Project sees government policy as a key component to retaining and getting women back into the workforce.
“I think number one is policy support. We know that parents are strapped and needing support when it comes to childcare. The availability and the affordability are major barriers to moms and parents being able to work,” said Robinson.
Corporate America is starting to make some changes, too. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have added more paid leave for employees during the pandemic, while Spotify says it will allow employs to work from anywhere even after the pandemic.
For its part, Accenture says it hopes to hire more moms in other divisions of the company soon.
“This is becoming nothing short of a crisis,” said Moore. “I think we can lead the way and truly make a difference.”