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How & Why Your Company Should Help Working Parents


Boulo creates opportunities for a massive pool of return-to-work moms. This group is effectively a hidden pool of candidates, presenting a real opportunity for employers in this tight job market. Our team also works to help moms (and all working parents and caregivers) who have not left the workforce remain employed through flexible job opportunities.

In this episode of The Recruiter’s Recruitment Podcast, host Lysha Holmes and Boulo Founder & CEO Delphine Carter discuss why employing working parents is the best way to elevate your productivity, profit, and employee value proposition simultaneously.

However, employers must also answer to non-parents as to why they should be allowed flexibility too. This podcast addresses that issue as well. 

This episode is a must-listen for working parents. Leaders of working parents, and those hoping to recruit Gen Z (yes, the two are linked), this podcast is a must for you too!

Listen at the links below, or watch below. Keep scrolling for an edited transcript.

You can also jump to topics here:


Lysha Holmes: This is Lysha Holmes. I’m your host on the Recruiters Recruitment Podcast brought to you by Hoxo Media. Today I am beyond excited because we are recording all the way to the United States of America. I am so thrilled to welcome Delphine Carter, who is the CEO of Boulo Solutions. 

Delphine Carter: I’m so excited to join you. You’ve had a ton of great guests throughout your series.

Lysha Holmes: We have. We are very privileged to be in this position, where I’ve interviewed some of the most incredible leaders across the globe. What’s exciting for me, as the host, is that I’m getting to speak with more and more people from across the channel, yourself included. You’re coming from Birmingham, Alabama?

Delphine Carter: I am. I love how you say “Birmingham” versus me saying “Birmingham.” We’re a national company, but this is our home base.

Lysha Holmes: My first recruitment job was in Birmingham, England. So, shout out to all the West Midlands folk who I know still follow the channel.

Tell us a bit about your business and yourself. How have you come to be in this position?

Why We Start with Return-to-Work and Working Moms

Delphine Carter: At Boulo Solutions, our entire purpose is to help women stay in and return to the workforce. We do that by matching them with flexible job opportunities. That could be contract, it could be project, part-time, or full-time permanent positions. Then we help guide them.

Our dream is to build our platform out so that we’ll be able to offer career pathing. We plan to provide women guidance on exactly where they need to go in their careers and what it’ll take to get there.

Women are not fabulous about asking for a raise. We want to be the wind at their back and tell them, “Hey, most people are getting paid this amount. Why don’t you go ask?” Or you need one additional certification or one extra project under your belt. Go get it.

Do We Have to Choose?

Woman Choosing Parent Path Work, Family, or Both

And so, I started Boulo based on my background in technology and my need for people to help launch products. I could not find these people through traditional methods. But, I would run into moms outside of work who had the skills I needed and could not get back into the workforce.

Lysha Holmes: Why should women have to choose at all? Why can’t we have a successful career without compromising our roles as mothers?

Delphine Carter: COVID made people realize, even for males, that our personal and professional lives are inextricably linked. There is no separating them.

We now see cats walking across our keyboards. You see the drawings of kids in the background. So we need to capitalize on that and make sure that companies continue to realize our personal and professional lives are intertwined. That way, even if we come back into the office, we can see some significant change.

Lysha Holmes: This is the time for a change. What you’re doing is phenomenal. Whatever country you’re in, look around your boardroom roundtable and see how many females are there. Did the ones there have to compromise at some point in their parenting or career?

So that’s why this conversation is so important to me. Regardless of gender, irrespective of where you say it, we all have a responsibility to make options available for those returning to work after becoming parents. It’s as simple as that.

What Barriers Lead to the Gender Gap?

Why do you think there is still a gender gap? What are the fundamental barriers?

Delphine Carter: Studies show three main barriers. One is a lack of flexible job opportunities. Once you become a parent, there’s just that push and pull struggle. If you leave the workforce, you lose about 30% of your pay when you come back. That’s not helping the pay gap; that exacerbates it.

Two is the lack of access to projects and to career progression that males often receive. The difference there is if you become a parent and pull out of the workforce then return, or even if you remain, people think you may not be able to handle special projects or travel.

It’s not a conscious verbalization. It’s typically an unconscious bias. But people need to let the female or parent decide whether they can do (aspects of their job) or not. Many people are shocked to learn that in the US, the pay gap between mothers and non-mothers is greater than the pay gap between men and women. That’s terrible.

If you are on an HR team or a people team, allow people to talk about their personal lives at work, including being parents. Creating a culture where parents are encouraged to talk about their family, rather than feel they need to hide their family obligations because they’ll lose opportunities, is a massive step to take. Allowing a man to leave an hour early to coach their kid’s soccer team will also help women. It’s an acknowledgment of parenting.

The third thing for women is the lack of career coaching. Not as many women have hit the C-suite. So, it’s challenging for women to find the mentor that will guide them and say, “This is how I got here. Try this.”

How to Increase Diversity and Inclusion

Lysha Holmes: Yes. Someone who will say “I’m going to be your mentor, I’m going to help raise you up.” Because that’s what we effectively do as mentors, coaches, and leaders, we raise people up. Everything you’ve said is all about diversity and inclusion.

Delphine Carter: Yes, 100%. We have over 1500 women on our platform, and we consider ourselves their advocates. We create a 360-degree profile that shows their soft and hard skills, so you can see them as a whole person and not just these experiences on paper.

When we go to hiring managers, we ask them to consider their job descriptions and carefully consider what they need. Do you need that college degree, or do you need that she’s got 12 years of experience doing this? A 12-year-old college marketing degree is pointless because the field has changed so significantly.  

Diversity Equality Inclusion Sign includes working parents

Recruiters should do their best for diversity, inclusion, and equity. For instance, they could say, “You need to interview this person. They may not have that college degree, maybe they’re not experts in Salesforce, but we know they’ve got the acumen to learn.” Then we start allowing people who have not had the same opportunities to get into the workforce in the positions they can thrive in.

Reasons Working Moms Succeed

Lysha Holmes: Yes, they can thrive. In terms of productivity, these females returning to work, even on a part-time basis, will absolutely give it their all. They want to prove themselves. They want to champion their fellow working moms.

In the hours that my children are not with me, I’m going to absolutely smash it out of the park. I’ve got no distractions, and I need to earn loads of money because kids cost a fortune. And I also want to do this for myself. I want to be defined by who Lysha is, not just “Mom.”

The mindset for leaders listening who are potentially discriminating against those who have been out of work, even for several years, needs to change. Just stop and think to yourself what skills a person brings from being a parent—time management, budget management, negotiation, conflict resolution, and so on.

Delphine Carter: FedEx has nothing on logistics on a mom. A mom can get people five different places at the exact same time and still get it done.

And you’re right. There’s a commitment that happens because women are so desperate to have that multi-dimensional side of themselves. Once you put them in that role, they get heads down. They’re not getting distracted by coffee talk or the water cooler. These women put their heads down and get work done.

Probably our number one customer that appreciates these moms are tech companies. They tend to think more innovatively and consider all the skills moms bring to the table.

I do wish that larger companies would think more innovatively regarding candidates. They have open roles they’ve got to fill fast, and they streamline or scale that process. But if they aren’t careful, they lose out on some incredible talent. It’s there but hidden from them.

What About Flexibility for Non-Parents?

Lysha Holmes: Do you think some leaders put in barriers for return-to-work moms because they worry that non-parents may feel that they’re being prejudiced against by not being given flexible working options? For example, someone that chose not to have children and looks over and says, “Well, hang on, she’s allowed to go at 3:00 to go and pick her kids up. You know she’s logging back on when she gets home. Why can’t I have that?”

Delphine Carter: And she should. We tell our clients that to be most effective in a remote and flexible culture, they should measure by goals and not “butts in seats.”

That person with no kids should be able to leave at 3:00. If they’re a passionate bike rider, go ride and get it done and log back in. You can do so when your measurement is: Did you hit your goals, and are you upholding the company values? You are? Great.

Bums on Seats OR a Better Way to Measure

Lysha Holmes: I love it. We call it “bums on seats” here, but you can have “butts on seats.”

I’m so pleased I brought that up with you because that’s exactly how I will challenge my client if they say that (about non-parents). I’ll say that you should be offering inclusivity on flexibility to everybody.

hands holding measuring tool with word goals in between as way to evaluate working parents

Now of course, COVID has changed that. More leaders are receptive because people have had to work remotely. But that’s not the same as flexible working. We need to make sure flexible work is defined in terms of expectations.

Measure output rather than depending on micromanagement. Don’t, for instance, measure how many calls someone logs. Then you’re creating a grown-up, empowered culture where people want to log in and get the job done. You’re making an embracing culture. You’re saying, “we know that you’ll do the job regardless of where you are.”

Delphine Carter: You also weed out the people that are only performing because you’re sitting there, pushing them and pushing them. That’s exhausting from a manager role.

Is that really where your brain needs to be? Should you be driving that person to perform versus thinking strategically about how you can improve the output for everyone? The people who are just making it through will fall off because they won’t be able to hit their goals.

How to Create a Culture Where Moms Want to Return to Work and Parents Stay

Lysha Holmes: I agree with you. This discussion is exciting for me as the host when considering our global audience. We have a lot of leaders, and those who are aspiring to be leaders listening.

So what can they do right now to ensure that they create a culture where women want to return to work? And that if they’ve already left to go and have children to make sure that’s not it. How can they attract those who have the potential to reach the top table?

Delphine Carter: It’s flexibility. That’s the flexibility of hours or location, or just in culture. Define your flexibility and stick with it.

Also, ask your parents how their kids are doing. You may not care. It’s okay if you don’t care. But what you’re doing is establishing a culture that says, I acknowledge there’s this other part of you that is very important and valuable to you. I will not judge you on the fact that you have kids or on the fact that you’ve got responsibilities that are significant outside of work.

Once you normalize that, then people feel like they can thrive. They don’t have to hide that they have kids to get assigned projects.

Lysha Holmes: Yeah, I think that’s important.

Pandemic Challenges

There’s been a lot of stress and strain put on females during COVID. And since COVID, potentially more so. I’m a single, solitary parent, so I can say from my own perspective that it all comes on me. The pressure on me is immense. What do you see from your audience?

Delphine Carter: For every 2.2 men that returned to the workforce, only one woman has as of May 2021. Some of that is because of school closures. A lot of that is because of the extra pressures on support systems.

Maybe their mom helped with childcare, or they had a community around them that helped with childcare previously. Childcare is expensive. So, if those support systems have been uprooted or locked out, they have to figure out how to pay for childcare.

It’s a challenging situation, and we still have about a third of fourth and eighth graders that are not back in school. The result of that too is that women are spending, on average, three-plus more hours than men on housework and schoolwork with the kids. There are a lot of concerns over the balance righting itself once people go back into the office.

Being Part of the Dialogue

And then, there are also valid concerns if women embrace remote work. If they say working remotely helps me, do they then lose their presence in the office? But we have to figure it out.

graphic image of dialogue for keeping working parents engaged

If your office decides to allow hybrid or remote work, be intentional to ensure you still include women. That inclusion goes for any minority that doesn’t have an equal voice in the room. Ensure that their voice can still be heard across Zoom or whatever tool you use.

Lysha Holmes: I agree with you. It’s about inclusivity. It’s about being part of a culture and being part of the dialogue every day.

Delphine Carter: “Being part of the dialogue,” that’s well said.

Lysha Holmes: Yes, it’s not just weekly updates. It’s that dialogue, every single day.

Economy and Equality

There were a lot of reports that showed females felt the pandemic caused extra responsibilities to fall on them. It was the same in the United Kingdom and Europe as it was in America.

We need to shift the balance back towards equality. We’ve gone back 50 years, according to one report.

Delphine Carter: That’s exactly right. And frankly, our economy will suffer because you take all of those wage earners out of the economy. That’s a lot of money for restaurants and groceries and kids’ activities. Our economy needs these women back in.

There’s also bad male on male behavior. There’s a lot of times where a male will want to get more involved. He’ll recognize his wife needs his help, but someone will say, “Well, you’ve got a wife for that.” There’s still some male-on-male behavior that isn’t great for parenting or equal share.

What happens to a man’s career when they have a kid? Can they take the paternity leave that’s allowed? Or will people say, “You’re actually taking that paternity leave?”

Attracting and Employing Younger Generations

Lysha Holmes: It’s hidden misogyny. This attitude has become one of the hottest topics among the younger generation. And it’s this younger generation that employers will need to attract.

If you are misogynistic and you are not embracing your working parents, you will alienate yourself from an entire future generation of people coming to work for you. They will want to know about your flexible working arrangement. What do I do if I have a child? What are you doing to help those that currently work for you? They’re not going to be interested in your latest trick or if they get champagne on a Friday.

Delphine Carter: I think the younger generations have realized they can obtain more of a balance. They’re going to ask for it. If you don’t have it, even if you double their salary, you’re still going to lose them quickly. So, modernize.

Lysha Holmes: Modernize and lose misogyny. That’s what I would like to say as well.

Clock for Pefect Timing

Perfect Timing and Real Life

It’s been an absolute pleasure to have you join us today. As we record this, I know that it’s towards the end of my workday, and your workday is just starting.

When we share this episode, we will make sure that everyone connects because I think your business sounds wonderful. I don’t know of anything like it in the UK. So please connect with Delphine and follow Boulo. We want to change the way that females are perceived in the marketplace.

And bang, on cue. My daughter is about to walk through the front door, which is just hilarious, isn’t it?

Delphine Carter: Perfect timing. I love it.

Lysha Holmes interviews business leaders who share their personal experiences, life lessons, and top tips on The Recruiter’s Recruitment Podcast. The podcast is a positive place for learning and self-development!