Many people — women and mothers in particular — complained during the pandemic that the list of titles available on the career networking site LinkedIn was restrictive, biased and didn’t fully provide options that allowed them to showcase their skillset or encompass the types of careers working professionals have today. To address the problem, the site has announced new “stay-at-home” parent titles that not only allow a greater representation of all the varied types of work currently going on in the world today (regardless of the pandemic) but could also serve as a model for other companies and organizations when it comes to recruiting and defining their workforce.
Alexa Mikhail of the nonprofit newsroom The 19th has reported that “LinkedIn will allow users to write ‘stay-at-home mom,’ ‘stay-at-home dad’ or ‘stay-at-home parent,’ and will also begin to include options for ‘parental leave,’ ‘sabbatical’ and ‘family leave.’” According to Mikhail, allowing users to identify themselves as stay-at-home parents or someone who isn’t a part of the traditional workforce “has the potential to destigmatize the work of caregivers both in and out of the home and level the playing field for employment.”
Citing the disproportionate burdens of parenting often falling on women, Corey Shdaimah, a professor of social justice at the University of Maryland, told Mikhail, “I think it’s really a welcome inclusion to be able to record any form of caregiving in places that are usually reserved for what’s often referred to as productive labor versus reproductive labor.”
Writer Heather Bolen was one of many who drew attention to the problem over the course of 2020. Bolen, a stay-at-home mom, said the site didn’t offer her a way to accurately represent that career path on her digital resume.
Many equality advocates have praised LinkedIn’s initiative because women, especially Black women and LGBTQ individuals, have been pushed out of the workforce due to the pandemic or have had to leave existing jobs to help take care of children or elderly family members, creating gaps in employment that are sometimes hard to explain on digital applications.
“LinkedIn’s changes could have the potential to normalize the work of caregivers in a way that recognizes their unique abilities,” Shdaimah told Mikhail. “Incorporating stay-at-home caregivers on a professional page could show employers experience from organization and management to multitasking and budgeting. These traits could make caregivers an asset to workplaces that largely left them out of the discussion.”
“If workplaces are truly committed to diverse and equitable care to being diverse and equitable workplaces, they need to consider the reasons why people might have had to come out of the workforce,” Shdaimah said. “They need to put their money where their mouth is and not penalize people for that.”