Working Mothers – Organisations needed to make change happen by Jason Snell
As Mother’s Day approaches, many young women believe that their mothers blazed a trail, created equal opportunities for women and showed that you can have it all – kids, career and a fulfilling personal life. And these young women would be right, but only up to a point.
Most workplaces talk the talk, using phrases like ‘work/life balance’ and ‘family-friendly policies’, but what that really means in practice is that they provide a laptop and a smartphone so employees can remain tethered to the office at all times. Despite anecdotal evidence that workers who are given more flexibility repay their employers with increased productivity and loyalty, women – usually mothers – looking for flexible workplace conditions rarely rise to the top.
In my opinion employers are missing out on a large group of extremely productive and valuable workers by focusing too much on the importance of long hours in the actual office, with too little flexibility being offered to staff who have extra commitments ( ie Kids) that require more freedom in their jobs.
There are however examples of working mothers who have clawed their way to the top.
Recently some of the nexthire team went along to a Women in Business Breakfast put on by Vecci. The keynote speaker was Ita Buttrose. The amazing Ita rose to the top of the highest selling magazine per capita in the world all the while looking after two children as a single mother. She notes in an interview that working mothers should certainly not be tied to the job.
“Who said we have to work 24/7? Companies have downsized and workers are expected to do two or three jobs. Now? We are overloaded. If the office culture suggests you are not a good worker if you don’t do those long hours, then that’s bad management. Good management lets your staff have personal lives.”
This kind of thinking is exactly what I’m talking about when it comes to employing mothers. More often than not they’re fantastic workers, are incredibly loyal, and will always get the job done. By offering flexibility to your staff and not being afraid to hire them, you’ll get some great people and your business will undoubtedly benefit in the long run.
Things need to change, and we all need to help make it happen.
We need more senior executives walking the talk by encouraging and modelling genuinely-family friendly policies.
And we need men and women alike to not only thank their mothers on Mother’s Day, but to pick up the baton and run with it, demanding a change in workplace culture so that all workers, regardless of gender or parental status, can be rewarded for the merit of their work rather than the quantity of their hours in the office.
Here at nexthire we have numerous working mothers on staff. Their hours are tailored to meet the needs of their role and flexible enough to accommodate their other job – as Mum.