Priya Rajendran, BS, founder and CEO of S’moresUp and director of Product Strategy and Connected Experiences at Ford Motor Company, discusses employers’ efforts to support working moms.
As COVID-19 has increased the workload for working moms who are now tasked with a greater caregiving role, employers have either implemented or are considering options to support workers via flexible hours and family well-being benefits, said Priya Rajendran, BS, founder and CEO of S’moresUp and director of Product Strategy and Connected Experiences at Ford Motor Company.
AJMC®: Hello, I'm Matthew Gavidia. Today on the MJH Life Sciences’ Medical World News, The American Journal of Managed Care® is pleased to welcome Priya Rajendran, an engineer with experience in Silicon Valley, who serves as the CEO of a family management app called S’moresUp.
Great to have you on, Priya, can you just introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your work?
Rajendran: Thanks, Matthew. Thanks for having me. My name is Priya Rajendran, and I'm a computer science engineer by study, but I've been a consumer product person for the past 20 years. Currently, I have 2 jobs actually, being the CEO for S’moresUp, our family management app, and also head of product at Ford Motors.
AJMC®: Amid the pandemic, it has been found that over 800,000 women have left the workforce this past September alone, with 1 in 4 women currently considering leaving their jobs due to the impact of COVID-19 on child care. Can you speak on factors that have contributed to this issue in the past and how they have been further exacerbated in our current work environment?
Rajendran: Sure, just to update, as of December 2020, 140,000 women left the workforce just in the month of December. All of them that we lost—140,000 jobs in December, all of them were women. I mean, that I find super fearful in terms of the statistics itself.
All these problems were there, even before the pandemic, it was always there. I think it just got magnified, given that everybody's tired of staying home with a pandemic. If you think about most of the households where women are the primary caretaker/caregiver, and they take care of all the things in the household, they become like the CEO of the home, right?
Taking care of appointments, after-school activities, and preparing lists on what groceries to buy and planning meals. Everything pretty much, most of the household falls on the shoulders of the women. Now add to that, all the kids being at home and taking classes from home, their assignments and the after-school stuff, plus planning 3 meals a day and making sure we have everything in the house. It’s just compounded, I think the pandemic just magnified the issue, but it's always been there.
AJMC®: To build on top of what you just said, what are companies doing to accommodate working moms who are now tasked with a greater caregiving role, and what unmet needs still persist?
Rajendran: Whatever is happening right now is causing a lot of sideways impact for the companies. We've been putting in a lot of effort to make sure that we have an equal number of women, with diversity top of mind for all these companies. Now all of that is taking a hit because of this. As women leave the workforce, the diversity numbers go down, women in leadership roles go down, everything has multiple ripple impacts that's causing the companies to pause and start thinking proactively about what they can do.
Some of the immediate reactive things that they have done is making sure flexible hours are there for women, and they’ve forgone performance reviews and things like that, so that it doesn't cause more stress. And the managers are being a lot more understanding of women not being there in all the meetings or all the time.
So, there have been some changes. It's beginning to take shape in companies, but if you think about long-term, we have always thought about health benefits. Mental care has become top of mind for everybody in the last few years. There has been a lot more stress around the mental health of the employees.
I think we will go one step further and start thinking about family well-being as one of the other benefits that they will start thinking of as a company. They will start looking into, what can we do to help families with kids? Because they are not going to be the same as the families without kids or the individual contributors without other commitments. So, how do you balance it and not just treat everybody equally? I think that is what’s going to come into the forefront.