The Mom Project gets lay offs wrong
But is the fact that we expect women to do things better part of our own stereotypical thinking?
Allison Robinson, the founder and CEO of The Mom Project, came up with the idea for the startup The Mom Project in 2016, when she was on maternity leave from a strategy role at Pampers.
The Mom Project provides “women with world-class companies for rewarding employment opportunities. The Mom Project is changing the way women work and redefining career structures by providing women with real work opportunities that are in balance with their personal goals. This evolution will keep more talented, professionally accomplished women in the workforce.”
It goes on “Ultimately, we lead with empathy and heart and strive to ensure high-quality work isn’t mutually exclusive with prioritizing your passions, hobbies, time with family, and other commitments.”
However, it is the latest company to use emails to let their employees know they have been laid off. About 20% of their employees were sent emails to their personal accounts to terminate their employment, although many found out when they tried to log onto the company server and their Slack accounts and found themselves lokced out.
Many were critical of this approach not only because it was a poor thing to do, but because she was a woman.
Robinson’s follow-up statement to the backlash was emphatic but not empathetic,
“Wrong is wrong. Gender doesn’t drive that. Integrity and empathy (or a lack of) does.”
Gender expectations and stereotyping
Having said that I did raise the proverbial eyebrow, not because the CEO was a woman but because it was a social enterprise set up to support mothers. Because this is exactly how you do it,….. right?
Whichever way look at it, the process demonstrated poor leadership and behaviour, regardless of gender. They didn’t even give a group Zoom call to their staff, simply cut them off company communications channels.
Robinson seemed to double down, “My objective in posting things like this is to force a dialogue on a right way and a wrong way to treat people and hold leaders accountable….Layoffs are a necessary part of business. Civility and respect in the process should be too.”
Not all women have good soft skills. Not all women are empathetic and compassionate. And although her gender is irrelevant, Robinson should have treated her employees more empathetically. Redundancies are indeed part of a business cycle, but they can be carried out correctly and humanely. As a bare minimum, the managers should have spoken to their people they were terminating.
Those employees should have been offered support and career coaching or outplacement services.
The other controversial issue was that some of the redundant roles wee reported as having been reposted on their website within hours of the layoffs. So whether this was a genuine business decision to meet changing financial circumstances or a calculated opportunity to weed out poor performers we will never know. However, some of those laid off were recent hires which reflect badly on their hiring process.
The action seems out of alignment with its core mission statement
For me, Robinson should have known better. She should also have done better. Much better.
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