LinkedIn has announced that it’s introducing “stay-at-home mom” to its list of job titles. The Microsoft-owned social network said the move is intended, in part, to help parents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic reenter the workforce.
The pandemic led to a dramatic surge in the number of mothers who were forced to exit the labor market in order to stay home to raise children -- but women’s unpaid work in raising children has long gone largely unrecognized by society.
In a Medium post that went viral last month, Heather Bolen called out LinkedIn for its “implicit bias against women” and said a simple change to its drop-down menu options could help millions of women reenter the workforce in the wake of the pandemic year.
“By simply modernizing its profile editing options, LinkedIn holds the key to encouraging transparent dialogue about employment gaps,” Bolen wrote. “These conversations could help set the stage for improvements in company leave policies and work arrangements that better support primary caregivers.”
Caregiver options lacking
Bolen said that the only “viable” option LinkedIn previously offered to describe her years as a stay-at-home mom was “self-employed” or “freelance.”
“Neither of which adequately represents my unpaid work stint,” she wrote in the article. “I would also argue that being a SAHM is full-time, but of course, LinkedIn intends to describe paid work only.”
LinkedIn previously had “zero pre-populated options to identify maternity leave, parental leave, adoption leave, sick leave, bereavement leave, elderly care leave, or for long term injury/illness, education/re-training, volunteering, long term travel, a gap year, a sabbatical — or for a pandemic,” Bolen wrote.
LinkedIn making changes
Now, on the heels of a year that forced more than 2.3 million women out of the workforce, LinkedIn has recognized the need for better options for those who took a caregiving hiatus.
The social network announced Tuesday that it would add stay-at-home mom” as a job description. LinkedIn executives told Fortune that they “wholeheartedly” agreed with Bolen’s critiques.
“We need to normalize employment gaps on the profile to help reframe hiring conversations,” Bef Ayenew, director of engineering at LinkedIn, told Fortune. Ayenew added that the changes are “a stopgap solution” while LinkedIn works on a larger revamp of its digital resumes over the next few months.