Felicia Kashevaroff of Tend: “Work alongside male allies”

Work alongside male allies — Women can’t do this all on their own. We need men to take parental leave, become equal participants in caregiving work, and normalize their caregiving work in their conversations with bosses and co-workers. As part of my series about “the five things we need to do to close the gender wage gap” […]

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Work alongside male allies — Women can’t do this all on their own. We need men to take parental leave, become equal participants in caregiving work, and normalize their caregiving work in their conversations with bosses and co-workers.


As part of my series about “the five things we need to do to close the gender wage gap” I had the pleasure of interviewing Felicia Kashevaroff.

Felicia Kashevaroff, is the CEO and co-founder of Tend and advocate for mothers and caregivers. Felicia left her full-time career in marketing and publicity to be a stay-at-home mother to her three children which set her on the path to founding Tend, a tech start-up dedicated to tracking, valuing, and sharing the invisible workload of motherhood.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” that brought you to this career path?

My co-founder and I had the experience of being long-time stay-at-home moms. We both made repeated attempts to re-enter the paid workforce but were forced back out for various reasons, all related to caregiving responsibilities. As time went on and the gap in our resumes grew, we started to consider all of the things that kept us from successfully re-entering the workforce. We also wondered why the work we had done as caregivers wasn’t regarded as relevant to our professional lives. Motherhood made us more organized, more capable, and more diligent. Why is the work that is vital to raising a family invisible?

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

Every day I’m inspired by the work I’m doing and the work many, many other founders are doing to solve complex issues that face mothers and caregivers. I’ve been awestruck by the opportunity to share space with some of the most amazing, heavy hitters in the caregiver advocacy field.

Can you share a story about the funniest or most interesting mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When my co-founder and I first decided to launch our company, we hired a woman to build our website. After one meeting, her husband took over the job. We found his communication style difficult and counter to our process. We fired him from the project, but he pushed back and tried to convince us that he could see the project through. Needless to say, it didn’t go well. We lost some time and a few hundred dollars, but it was such a valuable lesson early in our journey. Always, always trust your instincts!

Ok let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. Even in 2020, women still earn about 81 cents for every dollar a man makes. Can you explain three of the main factors that are causing the wage gap?

1. Sexist perceptions — There is still the notion that women are less reliable participants in the workforce, despite plenty of data to suggest otherwise. Employers worry about whether a woman is pregnant, is planning to become pregnant, or has children. This affects women whether they have children or not. Men are seen as more reliable employees when they have children. Women face a motherhood penalty of 4% for each of their children, while men get a 6% fatherhood bonus. As a result, married mothers are paid 76 cents for every dollar men make, while childless, unmarried women make 96 cents on the dollar.

2. Unpaid Labor — The above issue continues to persist because women perform roughly 2.5 times the amount of unpaid labor as their male counterparts. Time is finite, and women have less of it. This means women are unable to spend as much time on professional pursuits. The issue is further exacerbated when women choose to or are forced to take a break from the paid workforce for caregiving responsibilities. Even short breaks have long-lasting effects on a woman’s earning potential.

3. Racism — We have to remember that the wage gap changes based on race. White women earn 81 cents for every dollar, Asian women earn 90 cents, black women earn 62 cents, Latina women earn 54 cents. This is tied to racist ideas of the inherent value of the work performed by these varying groups. For example, Black and Latina women make up most of the paid caregiving force, and those jobs are woefully underpaid.

Can you share with our readers what your work is doing to help close the gender wage gap?

We are particularly interested in the impact of unpaid labor on the gender wage gap. Tend uses technology to help women track, value, and share the invisible labor required to care for families and loved ones. By making this invisible work visible, we have an opportunity to change the cultural narrative around caregiving work and seek solutions to share this work more equitably.

Much of the work currently being done to support mothers is through workplace initiatives and a push toward paid family leave. This is important, critical work which we fully support. Still, we believe that women cannot achieve equality in the workplace until we achieve equality in our homes.

Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the gender wage gap. Please share a story or example for each.

1. Redistribute the division of unpaid labor — Before the pandemic, 43% of women were pushed out of the paid workforce because the burden of caregiving work was too heavy. During the pandemic, more than 3 million women lost or left their jobs for the same reason, most women of color. We must find a way to value and redistribute unpaid labor to give women a level playing field.

2. Mandate paid family leave for all — The research on this is clear. Countries that mandate paid family leave for BOTH parents have far better gender parity. It also leads to happier, more engaged employees and healthier families.

3. Value caregiving work — Caregiving is primarily done for free by women or by marginalized groups that are grossly underpaid. In our capitalist society, that means this work is undervalued. Caregiving affects ALL humans at varying points in their lives. They are cared for, or they care for others, usually both. Both men and women must see caregiving for the vital, life-giving work it is.

4. Offer flexible work options — the traditional 9 to 5 doesn’t work anymore. It’s not suitable for anyone, whether they have children or not, but it is particularly hard on parents. When parents, especially mothers, are forced to choose between their professional obligations and caring for their families, it leads to overburdened employees and burnt-out parents. Flexible work options allow parents and other caregivers to attend to the needs of their loved ones and their jobs.

5. Work alongside male allies — Women can’t do this all on their own. We need men to take parental leave, become equal participants in caregiving work, and normalize their caregiving work in their conversations with bosses and co-workers.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would encourage a total restructuring of our national priorities away from violent forces like the military and policing and toward caring forces like education, health care, and food security.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Remember this in the darkest moments, when the work doesn’t seem worth it, and change seems just out of reach: out of our willingness to push through comes with a tremendous power… Use it.” — Stacey Abrams

Anyone who has ever tried to effect social change knows that it’s hard. Really hard. People will try to convince you that it’s not worth the effort, that the problem you’re addressing isn’t real, that you don’t have what it takes to build a movement, that you are unworthy. It takes strength, and it takes support to keep going. Stacey Abrams is the perfect example of this in action. She is strong, smart, tenacious, and a powerful leader. With decades of hard work and an army of grassroots support, her efforts are finally coming to light. I am so inspired by her.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have a conversation with Melinda Gates. She has been critical in bringing the conversation about unpaid labor into our national consciousness. In fact, her 2016 annual letter played a significant role in the founding of Tend.

This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.

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