Not only is Amy Nelson the Founder and CEO of the multi-city, co-working space The Riveter, but she's also a mother of four. So it goes without saying that we were super lucky to snag her for a sit down with Knix to talk motherhood, inclusivity in the work place, and the ever- evolving concept of the "working woman".
Can you tell us why female-centric workspaces are necessary?
The American workplace was built by men, for men. Workspaces that centre women are important and necessary because, otherwise, we might never question how traditional workplaces exclude women. For example, a clean and comfortable place to pump breastmilk is critical for a new mother to get through her workday. And this goes beyond physical space into culture and environment, of course. Flexible working hours to avoid penalizing women (who continue to disproportionately bear caregiving responsibility in this country) for their responsibilities to other family members and fair compensation policies are all key to building workplaces that centre women.
A pillar of The Riveter is that “conversations lead to collective action”. What conversations aren’t we having that you’d like to see take place?
I’d like to see more conversations that don’t assume motherhood is a weakness in the workplace. Motherhood is an asset and we should embrace it as such in conversations with our colleagues, with managers and HR departments. The onus is, of course, on employers to provide good working environments for mothers but, in a country that doesn’t so much as guarantee parental leave, it’s up to all of us to band together to demand action. It starts with reframing motherhood as a strength.
How are you actively building a more inclusive and accessible workspace?
The Riveter is a union of working women and allies. Part of what we offer is work space, but to build inclusivity and accessibility for women on a larger scale, our offerings have to go beyond a physical place to work. So, we offer content, resources -- both digital and in-real-life, events and programming, and a community for women and allies in whatever kind of work they do. Our goal is to change the reality for working women in America, so the workspaces we’re actively building and improving go beyond The Riveter’s spaces.
How is the concept of the “working woman” changing? Have you seen it change since building The Riveter?
As a culture, we’re beginning to give caregiving the seriousness it deserves. And that is redefining what it means to be a “working woman”. Caregiving is work. And, yes, I do think that we’ve seen rising acceptance in the past few years, but we still have such a long way to go!
Can you speak to how The Riveter and motherhood go hand in hand?
I left my job in corporate America and pivoted into entrepreneurship because I felt my workplace was not meeting my expectations as a mother. I had two young girls and was pregnant with my third daughter when I launched the company in 2017 and I’ve since had a fourth (I know -- crazy. But also wonderful!). That’s shaped the company into what it is today and it will continue to. More than ever, I want to centre mothers in our work, because so often the workplace has failed them. The future of work has to look different.
What would the world look like if it reflected The Riveter?
The gender pay gap would be a thing of past and we’d have a female majority in leadership!
A big thank you to Amy and the entire Riveter team for partnering and hosting the upcoming LA tour stop of The Life After Birth Project. We'll be at The Riveter (@theriveterco) located in West LA, 2236 S Barrington Ave. from October 24th - November 1st!
Image Credit: Jane G Photography