VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Ashley Valadez is a mom of a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old, so she knows that life can get a little crazy.
"Especially through this pandemic, I think that [women] done so much of the impossible. Like, we've worked at home, with kids, managing remote learning - you know, not having daycare, [etc.]," she said.
For many women, the pressure of the pandemic has been glaring.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and CBS News, 865,000 women left the workforce in September, which is four times as many men. During the same time frame, 216,000 men reportedly left the workforce.
Colleen Curtis is the Chief Community Officer at The Mom Project, a platform that connects mothers with companies looking to hire and retain them.
"There has never been a more important time to be able to create opportunities for women and moms specifically," Curtis said. "Moms aren't just a nice thing to have. We're not just a niche market; we are a business imperative."
Curtis said unfortunately the pandemic has put a lot of women out of work and forced moms to choose between their career and families.
"If women are kind of forced out and have to kind of pick up the significant slack at home - with having kids not having day care or childcare or school - what does that look like for their careers in two years, three years, five years? What does that do to the management pipeline for women? Or for underrepresented minorities that are women who are being disproportionately impacted?" Curtis questioned.
The Mom Project doesn’t want to see the consequences, so they're giving moms the tools they need for success now. This includes things like resume building and virtual learning sessions.
Ashley was able to find her current job thanks to the connections of The Mom Project.
"[During their weekly Unity Hour, guest speakers] talk about really relevant and important topics that, you know, we as women aren't always educated on, like advocating for yourself, negotiating and even something as simple as how to ace a virtual interview," Valadez said.
Curtis added, "We have extremely professional, accomplished women who are sitting on the sidelines because of this pandemic, and we need to get them back to work."
To further understand a female's role in the workplace, The Mom Project surveyed 500+ working professional women and used WerkLabs to quantitatively measure the value of moms as colleagues and managers.
In part, they found that 23% of people surveyed reported a more positive workplace experience with mom colleagues. According to their findings, 80% of female employees report that Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) efforts are a top priority at organizations where the CEO is a mom. Comparatively, only 58.5% report this sentiment at organizations where the CEO is not a mom.
Curtis said when it comes to their online profile - in addition to allowing women to add work history, experience and education - they also allow them to add what's called a "flex factor." The flex factor lets employers know how many hours a week a potential employee can work.
"I think right now that's a really huge component to help people get clear on what is really going to work for them and employers that are coming in just know that right off the bat," Curtis said.
Valadez is now working at a new company. She said when it comes to women getting back on their feet, "We're going to push forward and we're going to fight for what we feel like we deserve, and that's a place in the workforce."
The Mom Project is an online platform that helps women from around the country.