The Moms at Work Collective regularly brings together authors, thinkers, and people dedicated to making an impact. As a group we work on learning, changing and growing as leaders and changemakers.
As a gift to a friend or yourself, a good book is a beautiful thing. This booklist is made up of books from some of our author guests and recommendations from our members and network. Check them out and join our community.
Books To Inspire
A lifetime of advocacy as a feminist and world’s leading water defender. Maude Barlow is an icon – this book is a gift.
Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul
In this book, gone are the docile women and male saviors. Instead, lines blur between heroes and villains. You will meet fearless princesses, and an independent Gretel who can bring down monsters on her own.
We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement
What does it mean when social change becomes a brand identity? Feminism’s splashy arrival at the center of today’s media and pop-culture marketplace, after all, hasn’t offered solutions to the movement’s unfinished business. So what is next?
I was going to do a live AGM but when you are a company called Moms at Work you have to do even your AGM differently, so we are doing it in the most accessible way possible. Read whenever you want, and I will use the event to answer questions and THEN I will take the questions and make a new post of answers!
And for those of you who don’t want to scroll to the bottom – yes we are starting a community fund to support our advocacy work and yes you CAN get involved by supporting in a number of ways found HERE
First up: What is Moms at Work and how did you start?
Moms at Work started as a small Facebook group that I ran as part of my company Careerlove. ca (now not active). I did career coaching and corporate program creation. I was doing really well – making the money I needed, and I was a solopreneur. Just me 🙂 I had been coaching MOSTLY mothers who were struggling in their careers, and I wanted to make a place that I and my clients never had.
When I created Moms at Work it became the thing that I always needed in my career but let me be clear I was a career coach and sold programs and courses. The group was just part of my business and was TOTALLY manageable with 200 people.
What happened though is that… it and I became more. Not just a Facebook group. Not just a career coach. Not a place to tell me to lean in and not drop a ball or whatever other crap that leadership women’s groups tried to sell me.
I started it as the place where I could talk about my kids, my ambition, my success and also the lack of engagement with all of them. I started Moms at Work because women with kids are being asked to exist and fight to be included in a system that was not designed for us. We are forced to fail or win at all costs. When we are not doing well, we are sold foot scrubs and told to “calm down.”
That cannot be the answer.
Ok cool! Got it – a place for us amazing!!! Then what happened?
When COVID happened, we had about 750 people in the group. My career coaching dried up completely. All my corporate clients dropped off. The only thing I had left was a group of women who were part of a group program I created called the Insiders. I was not making any money. (none – actually less than none)
I was ready like many business owners to throw in the towel. I was going to homeschool my kids and support other women’s organizations that would step in and prevent what I knew would inevitably happen. Women with children and pregnant women would be laid off. They would be the scapegoats of corporate. I was right about that part but wrong about the women’s groups. I remember stomping through the house muttering where the F are all these groups who are supposed to be advocating for me!!!!
As you all know that scenario didn’t happen. I did not go quietly into the night and craft my way through the pandemic.
I took CERB to keep my business alive so I could pay for all the subscriptions (about 4K a year in subscriptions and costs) and my taxes and I spoke to my partner and said – I want to try and help. He has been married to me a long time and knows that look of rage when he sees it.
From 2020 onward Moms at Work did the following work (just me for the first 12 months):
Over 150 media interviews to highlight how working mothers were carrying us but being destroyed in the process (over 100 hours)
I wrote 2 op-eds. (30 hours)
Experts join us on FB lives to explain benefits, give legal advice, we hosted over 60 events to help you understand how this system was not designed for you and how to both work within it and tear it apart. (100 hours)
We launched Canada’s first pay transparent job board (75 hours)
We designed Canada’s first maternity leave survey to show just how broken the process is – then we created http://www.myparentalleave.ca to fix it. (400 hours)
We met with the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to share YOUR stories (40 hours)
We advocated to have the EI hours dropped during COVID so that pregnant women would be able to qualify (45 hours)
We helped you through our free resources and Pay What You Can talks earn almost 5 million dollars in salary increases. (over 50 hours)
We have helped over 800 women get new jobs (probably more)
We sit on the EI roundtable and many other unpaid roles to make sure that working mothers are included in updates and changes (to date 60 hours)
But now the parts you do not see, need to be shown.
In order to do all those things, you see above – I paid for them. I did not make any money during 2020 and less than 30K in 2021 in order for me to bring on a small team. Our profit after our first year as “Moms at Work” was $1500 (we were paid our salaries – but believe me it was tight).
All the things you love us for – work because I run a phenomenal small team who is paid well and is so good at their job that it makes my heart hurt but it means that I am funding Moms at Work in a way I can’t continue to do.
But what about sponsors?
We have spent as a team over 100 hours trying to secure and create sponsors. While we came close a few times – our mandate to support working mothers (and not – shockingly the companies trying to sell you pampers) has been a “challenge” for companies. Turns out companies don’t like it when you go after corporate and tell them that pay transparency is important.
Any grants we have looked at and applied for – require us to not talk about various subjects (call out the government when we need to, talk about how companies underpay women) and all the large companies require a gag clause to not say anything bad about them now or in the future. So, if that is what it takes to work with these partners to show them how much they “support women” – I don’t want it. If you need to threaten and silence women to work with them then NO THANK YOU.
For the first time in our lives – why can we not have a women’s organization work ONLY FOR US. We don’t need awards shows, we don’t need a gala, we don’t need billboards – we need someone to SCREAM that we exist, someone who will not turn away from this fight and who can look at exploitive companies in the eye and say our community is not for sale (I have done that by the way – it could possibly be better than chocolate, coffee and silence rolled into one)
So I wanted to create a space. A space with partners, not sponsors. No gag funding. A place to tear apart the systems. To create success. Community. Love and support.
What about becoming a non-profit?
Many of you may not know – non-profit just means you don’t pay tax. I am FULLY in agreement that as a business owner I should pay tax. This is what gives us the things I believe in – public education, public healthcare, and funding for those who support those who are struggling. I also refuse to be the tax write-off for a company that I KNOW just forced our group members to sign an NDA in order to be paid out for being assaulted at work (see because of Moms at Work I cannot unsee this stuff).
Non profit – does NOT mean you do not make money. It is still a business – they still make money. They like to scream that they don’t but they absolutely do – they do it by underpaying workers under the guise of doing good 🙂
The thing that makes them different is the required transparency. Moms at Work plans to be transparent without having all the complexities of non-profit status.
The world of work and its constraints do not work for me (just as they do not work for you). Giving over the thing that allows me to work (Moms at Work is my business) feels entirely unsafe. I refuse to give a volunteer board of directors control of this business that creates meaningful well-paid part time work to a dedicated team of women and pays my mortgage. Having been on non-profit boards – let me be very clear – the patriarchy still exists in all its forms, and it is a daily struggle to tear it down.
I also know that for some women they do not need to work. Some entrepreneurs get money from wealthy parents and can manage not to earn money. That is not my reality. I have a mortgage to pay, two kids with very expensive medical needs and I have to pay for my own speech therapy (7k a year) to be able to continue to retain my very limited reading. I would like to go on a local vacation and maybe send my kids to really good camps one year. That would be really awesome.
Ok Allison so now what?
I am coming to you today applying for a job. I am applying for my job that I have been working for 3 years unpaid.
We as a community have to believe in Moms at Work and all that it can be and develop a community fund and base of supporters to continue to do this work. We will officially become a social impact organization – A coalition for and by mothers and our allies in this fight.
Moms at Work has PROVEN what we can do with very little and I want you to imagine what we can do with more.
So here it goes:
Hi my name is Allison Venditti. I am the mom to 3 little boys. I am an HR professional and Canada’s top expert in parental leave management. I am an advocate; Star Wars lover and I would like to lead Moms at Work to do the following:
Become the voice of working mothers across Canada – fighting for pay transparency, pay equity, and more. I want our purpose to be help you earn more money, build community and end the motherhood penalty
We would like to create Canada’s largest database of salary data – free for the public. If they won’t give us pay transparency we will do it for them
Create free resources – pay transparency guide, motherhood penalty guide etc and activate our community to be able to talk about these things within your companies. We want to help entrepreneurs build DIFFERENT companies.
We would like to launch a podcast to create free avenues for information about work, parenting and more
We would like to continue to offer programs at low cost and free as well as higher price points for those who can afford them – and have money to create bursary programs for those who cannot. We want to continue to meet people where they are and bring you, speakers and experts, that you won’t find anywhere else.
We would like to create a jobs newsletter where we can help you find jobs! The job board was too expensive to continue so we are trying this instead!
We would like to have My Parental Leave reach over 1000 parents and 100 companies – we are going to try and fundamentally change how Canadian companies manage parental leave.
We would like to strike a coalition of women’s organizations and organize together. This will take a tremendous amount of time – but we need to move faster – we can do big things together.
As you can see NONE of the above have really anything to do with career coaching 🙂 None of the media I did was “work with Allison she is a career coach” it has all been about you. About working moms.
Now – most organizations would list the above and people would say – yeah right. But if you refer to the list above that then I think you probably say – yep she absolutely can.
Ok Allison I am in! I would like to hire you!
Beginning Nov 1, 2022 Moms at Work will become Canada’s first organization built for and by working mothers.
We will become a coalition that will look like the following:
The Facebook group will remain. We will share our surveys and work through our mailing list to make sure you don’t miss any of our events, courses and advocacy.
We will be able to hire a community manager and allow anonymous posts.
We will be completely transparent with our community fund and what we use the money for. Our accountant Veronica Yeoh, CPA (and Moms at Work supporter) has established the proper reports for us to share with you annually.
We will provide our members with an annual impact report to track our progress and our impact.
On our website you will find the level in which you can support as an individual, an advocate and as a business.
We have included a one-time give button. If you hire someone for your company, get a referral bonus by hiring a member, get a client or get a raise or new better job through the community we ask that you give back either by increasing your monthly amount or by giving a one-time fee.
If you would like to join us as a supporter, please donate to our advocacy project
In order to continue this work Moms at Work will need to have a minimum of 300 people donate $25 per month.
This will allow us to pay for:
Salaries (I will continue to offset by career coaching/Collective group – so that the money is directed to more support)
Data Analyst, social media and writing support (ad hoc)
Advocacy support and volunteer coordination (part time)
We have started something. Something big and I want to see it grow. Please join us. I can do this. I promise I can – I just really need your help.
If you would like to join us as a supporter please donate now.
I want you to take a moment and write down 5 things that you think success is.
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Now. Write down 5 things that you think a good life is. Are they the same? Of the 5 things that you used to define success – will those things make you happy? Will they bring you joy? Will you consider your life well spent if you do those things?
Often the answer is no.
So let’s take a break then and talk about success differently because work was not designed for women. The success that many of us have been taught to strive for is NOTHING that you actually want.
I will use myself as an example. I went to university. Got a degree. Got another one. Got a job in HR, got a bigger job in HR, got a consulting gig (ooohhh fancy). These were the things I was taught that I should want.
Then I had a kid and my worldview changed. I didn’t want to commute 50 minutes each way to a job where I did things I didn’t particularly enjoy. I didn’t want to be the last mom to pick up my kid at daycare and I derived zero satisfaction in helping my company make more money.
So here is what is broken then. That path TOTALLY works for some people. Sure, amazing for them. But what about the 95% of people who it does not?
How do WE define success?
And this is where it gets interesting. Here is my old vs. my new success list:
MY OLD DEFINITION OF SUCCESS:
Make over 100K
Reach VP title
Become a good manager
Travel opportunities at work
Make impactful change within my organization
MY NEW DEFINITION OF SUCESS:
Pay myself a salary that allows me to live comfortably
Have the flexibility to be there for my family
Build a thriving community that supports both me and our vision for a better workplace for all.
Not work Fridays
The opportunity to learn, teach and change systems
The second list is something we NEVER talked about. These were shameful things to ask for. These were ways of working that do not conform to archaic workplaces but there HAS to be new versions of success. There HAS to be new ways of working.
The old ways are not working – so I want you to find your new success goals.
If you want to meet with other women who are ready to work differently. Who are supportive. Who will help you find new ways and have a lot of fun doing it – come and join us.
I have worked in Human Resources for almost 20 years now, and I have seen a lot. I have hired thousands of people, helped them return from work, fired people, negotiated many a salary range, broke up a near fist fight and had to sift through a 45-page letter from an employee who was tired of the state of the kitchen and proposed an 8-part plan to fix it.
Someone asked me the other day, “What the stupidest thing I had seen a company do?” Well, my answer was simple. The stupidest thing I have seen companies do is not provide pay transparency. AKA: NOT TELLING SOMEONE HOW MUCH YOU WANT TO PAY THEM.
Not telling someone in a job posting how much you are going to pay them to me says the following:
“We don’t value your time or our hiring team.” They are willing to drag you through 3 interviews only for you to find out that they don’t pay enough.
“We don’t value women, people of colour, or any marginalized community.” Because pay transparency provides these groups the opportunity to enter the negotiation on fair footing. It does not allow the employers to play the stupid game of: “how much do you currently make?”… and then low ball them accordingly.
“We don’t have a solid or fair compensation strategy.” Because if you did you would be proud of how you pay your staff and should not be scared that your current employees will find out that you are underpaying them.
“But Allison,” you yell — “this sounds terrible! Companies must have some reason for doing this!” Well they MUST, right? Don’t worry — I reached out and asked 10 employers why they did not post the pay range and here were the answers I got:
TOP 10 REASONS EMPLOYERS DID NOT INCLUDE THE SALARY RANGE:
Oh, we don’t know yet — we want to see what kind of applicants we get. –cough. LIES. no one posts a position with no budget
We aren’t sharing until we find someone. –um what is this high school?
We provide a very generous benefits package. –you still didn’t tell me
We like to pay each applicant based on a merit-based system. It’s very complex. –did you just tell someone who has over a decade with compensation analysis that you thought I wouldn’t understand?
Our CEO said we couldn’t tell anyone.
We are hoping we can get someone for below market rate. –yep, they said that
It is not part of our equity initiative but that will be reviewed in the future. –yeah, I don’t even know what that means
We pay market rate. –don’t worry I asked what market rate was. they couldn’t tell me
We don’t have to. We have 1000s of candidates applying — no one cares about pay transparency. –ummmm… ok
As a top employer, we are proud of our equity initiatives, compensation package and our diversity programs. We have invested heavily in making sure our compensation is fair and equitable. –that is like me writing a book report and then not wanting the teacher to see it before she grades it. she just should KNOW that it is really good
There is really no good reason to NOT tell your potential new employee, your next executive, how much you are going to pay them. So, next time you apply to a role with no salary: ask them. See if they can give you an answer better than the 10 listed above.
In 2018, Moms at Work was created to fill a gap for women looking for a professional association for them. It was designed to bring together mid and senior level career women. Women who were leaders, women who were returning to work after a career break and entrepreneurs. We crossed industries, areas of expertise and shared one thing in common – we were all mothers looking to grow our careers while raising our families. Within a year, we reached 3,500 members, mostly in the Greater Toronto Area. We networked, we met for lunch, we hired each other and we pushed for change.
In March 2020, everything changed. COVID-19 came to Canada and while the world ground to a halt – Moms at Work sprang into action. Our members left the workforce in record numbers as they were forced to choose their career or their children. Many were laid off as the pandemic hit female dominated careers hardest.
Moms at Work rallied our members and experts who helped navigate EI changes and legal issues and created a safe space for collective sharing, suffering and listening. As the world stayed apart, Moms at Work came together.
By mid 2021, we had been quoted in close to 100 media interviews, created a Directory to support our members’ small businesses, produced a Holiday Gift Guide featuring local independently-run businesses, hosted both Pay Equity Commissioners along with various thought leaders in our virtual speaker series, created a Pay-What-You-Can webinar series for skills building and job hunting. We were invited by the Prime Minister to showcase what Moms at Work had done and to talk about the changes we felt were needed to support working families post-pandemic. That was when we realized that our community deserved representation as we prepare to ramp up.
Moms at Work is now Canada’s first professional association for working mothers. Our new, customized community platform provides a safe, inclusive digital space for our members to connect, support, and learn from one another. Members have access to Moms at Work live and on-demand programming including our virtual speaker series, hiring panels and Masterminds. We will continue to work collaboratively with employers to help them rebuild their female talent pipeline and implement workplace policies that better support women and parents.
Over the next year, we are committed to building a new Job Board, launching our employer training program to improve maternity leave processes, hosting dozens of events and building a network of Moms at Work chapters across Canada among other things!
If you would like to join us as a member go check out our community fund for more information.
Do you have a network? A bunch of people who you can call on if you need an introduction to a new job? People who would jump at the chance to support you? Help you grow your new business? Because let’s be honest — social media and posters isn’t going to grow it — but 5 people spreading the word like wildfire such as heck will! I’m going to tell you the #1 problem with the way you have been approaching networking.
Which one of these networking experiences sounds familiar?
You don’t know where to start…so you don’t do anything
You stick with people in your industry. Attend events or listen to speakers who are familiar to you or just are relevant to your current role
You keep networking with people you know personally or just people in your company (but you also know that people who are close to you — don’t want to work for you or with you!! That would be weird!)
And all of these are FINE, but they won’t get you the kind of network you really need. You see — you have a BOUNDARY problem. Networks should cross boundaries, industries and should connect you to people more senior, more junior and who come with their own set of people. You need to get to know them personally.
But… that is REALLY HARD. Unless someone does it for you…
So, guess what? I did.THE COLLECTIVE is a group of 100+ women who are going to be your new network. They will cheer for you, mentor you, help you grow and bring you into our network.
We are going to get open about work, find mentors, grow our business, find a new job and be held accountable — while having a REALLY awesome time (sounds too good to be true? It’s not — I promise). It is also helpful to have a hyper connector. Someone whose network spans continents, industries and career stages. So, I would like to introduce you to that person — OH WAIT THAT IS ME! I got so fed up with watching people struggle. I was tired of women not getting the support and expertise that they deserve — so I made this space just for you!!!
COME AND JOIN US! WE CAN’T WAIT TO SUPPORT THE CRAP OUT OF YOU.