An industry expert has suggested that in today, woman are finding it easier to break through the glass ceiling in their career, compared to previous years.
Role models for younger women today play a big part in encouraging women to aspire to high level careers.
In today's society there is more emphasis on flexible working and legislation which is enabling women to progress further with their chosen careers even though they have demanding family responsibilities.
Although we see more appetite for flexible working, there is still discrepancy in the number of females in senior roles in organisations and as part of the governments key agenda points targets must be achieved whilst they are still in power.
It is a matter of weeks away until the Olympics takes place. Many businesses will have been preparing for this memorable event and planning as to how this could impact their business. Many businesses however may not be even this prepared.
The subject of “flexible working” has been suggested as a solution for employees wishing to attend major events when this Olympics starts in July. Some companies, already organised and familiar with this work pattern are going to follow this policy to help them successfully operate during the games. It does appear that a considerable amount of companies have refused flexible working to accommodate staff when the major events take place.
Isn’t this a missed opportunity for companies to road test this method of working during a sporadic business period? They could be using flexible working as an opportunity for the future. Some companies will see this time during the Olympics as committed focus for continued growth and productivity especially whilst the economy is struggling. Admirable yes, but also could be a missed opportunity at the same time.
Of course as the country continues to find ways to improve the economy this is a priority, but apart from financial stability, there are other advantages to a flexible working pattern.
Some benefits to be considered are home working and staggered hours during congested times. This can reduce stress and offer a better work-life balance. By motivating staff productivity this will increase along with morale and absenteeism reduces. Some key benefits when employees are hoping to be involved with the events.
If communicated clearly and effectively to a workforce, the trialling of flexible working could be measured and evaluated to identify successes and problem areas for a permanent plan. During this period, businesses can focus on absence, morale, productivity and management effectiveness. Some crucial ingredients to help formulate preferred working arrangements for the future.
As a working mum, I can probably speak for most in that we all require a degree of flexibility in our jobs. Some mums have extra help and childcare covered off so they can concentrate on their career whilst quite a high proportion are seeking a job with less hours and flexible arrangements to enable them to help “balance” their family life.
I feel that even though as an economy we are facing tough times, organisations are becoming more aware of flexible work arrangements and there is evidence that some are reviewing their policies to reflect these changes. Businesses are coming round to the idea of flexible workers for many reasons. They can hire from a talented pool of experienced and skilled women who are eager to offer commitment and hard work for their own reasons. This can give companies stability and the input they need to grow and develop their business. Flexible workers are not as costly as full time employees and having worked like this myself previously they can often be far more productive. In addition to this, flexible employees don’t have to be permanent or fixed, they could provide a high quality project and short term stints of work as and when businesses need it.
So how do you find flexible jobs?
Well, there are some specialist recruitment companies who are dedicated to working with family friendly organisations. They offer a range of jobs across a wide spectrum, from permanent, temp, franchising, home-working and voluntary. These are a great route to see what is happening in the market place -jobs4mothers,womenlikeus and working mums
In some situations these companies may not be even reaching out to all the flexible workers which are on offer in the market. A really good place to start if you are looking close to home is your local market. If you are set on being local to home then it is worth applying to businesses “direct”. Obviously blanketing the area with your CV isn’t the best idea, however doing your research and understanding which businesses are operating in the area is.
Try researching through local papers, contacts, newsletters, adverts etc to identify a pattern of businesses which are expanding, growing or renovating. If a business has a stable headcount and product you could tailor a letter to them highlighting your skills/experience and suggesting some options of flexibility which they may potentially consider. This could be to offer one off project work, term time (school hours) or even voluntary hours per week. It shows initiative and gives you a place to demonstrate your worth. It can’t do any harm and in some cases companies need some extra help here and there but they haven’t a clue as to how to go about it. The other positive about direct applying is you are using this as a test exercise to brush up on some skills and most of all your confidence if you haven’t worked for a number of years.
If you are feeling really confident and proactive you could search/apply for jobs where they are advertised as full-time and within the recruitment process suggest flexibility if this is amongst your offering. I definitely would not suggest going through an interview and making flexibility your sole objective as this could backfire, however if you apply with a view to discussing flexible options within the role on offer it could certainly work in your favour. For example – start early and leave later, work four days in the office and the fifth day at home. One week of fixed full time hours and the next more flexible etc. They will work if the nature of the job/business allows. It is certainly worth exploring only if you are presenting some logical and viable solutions to the employer. They can only say no, or even after a period of time agree to review the working hours and tailor the jobs to be more flexible.
Single Parent……….. Double Trouble?
Being a parent is not easy. Being a single parent is twice as hard. Responsibilities, worries, bills, school runs, ballet classes, football club…. are borne by one pair of shoulders and even Mr. T couldn’t carry that burden alone.
For whatever reason or circumstance finds you in this position, it is one that is initially daunting but with a bit of support, a leap of faith and a good sense of humour, it is one that you can not only survive but embrace. You can sleep easy at night. You can still have a career. You can pay your bills.
Your life doesn’t stop; it just takes an unexpected direction that can initially throw you into unfamiliar territory with a large pinch of guilt and a sprinkle of self-doubt.
My journey began when my daughter was a baby. I have since learned through first-hand experience about everything from working tax credits to childcare, flexible working hours to making your pound go further.
From my experience, the work/home balance is a fine juggling act for every mother but once struck, it provides space, self-esteem and fulfilment as a working woman and recharged batteries, passion, excitement and fulfilment as a loving mother.
That pearl of wisdom relayed, I am no expert but knowledge is power and it goes a long way. It gave me strength to know that I wasn’t alone or some societal anomaly and that there are a lot of good organisations and websites out there (allmumkind and gingerbread to name but two) that provide practical information and support and don’t make you feel like the pip in the apple.
Over the next few months, I shall tackle a number of topics with the aim of clearing the mists of uncertainty and providing a bit of much-needed sanity. I shall be offering practical advice and support for those of you out there that need a nudge in the right direction or just want a friendly ear to listen to your problems or answer your nagging concerns. I am more than happy to answer questions or comments to my post.
Posted in Family, Guest posts, Mummy and working, Single "super" mummy | Tags: Balance, Benefits, Careers, Childcare, Employment, Financial, Flexible, Mummy, Responsibility, Single Parent, Support Network, Women, Working
I must admit I was lucky with the support from my boss when I went on maternity leave with my second baby. My bosses were equally very lucky as I meticulously handed over a smooth running operation with full instructions. Famous last words as I waddled out of the office “You can call me whenever…..Not a problem”
I always had a very open and trusting relationship with my superiors. Especially with the career I was in, I could work flexibly, hold down a senior position and enjoyed a very good level of success across the company. It was a two way street which worked.
I knew that my bosses were nervous when I announced my pregnancy, but provided support and together we planned well ahead for my maternity leave, conducted extra training and I was heavily involved right up to the minute I left. I was even emailing, replying to Blackberry messages, offering guidance after my daughter was born. I even attended a meeting just 2 months after she was born. It was what I thought I should and had to do to sustain my senior position. I suppose deep down I thought I would drift away if I didn’t keep involved. It was very stressful and part of me does regret being so consumed during the first few months of my baby’s life but I was going back quite soon and I had to be on top of my career.
Hindsight is such a wonderful thing. I look back now and I should have completely switched off and taken my full maternity leave and just let it be. I was worrying about nothing and creating unnecessary stress. I can confidently say this as I left 6 months after I retuned from maternity leave. The whole company changed during that year with a big help from the recession and many of the decisions taken I couldn’t change anyway. Lesson learned. With or without me it was never going to be the same.
So my advice is just embrace your maternity leave and be savvy enough to keep an ear open from your workplace with business updates, politics, colleagues and anything else to keep you up to date. If you can switch off and don’t waste any special moments then do it. What will be will be. You will never get the time back.
The whole purpose of launching allmumkind presented itself to me when I changed course and stepped away. So, as you can see, you never know what’s around the corner and for me I am the happiest I have been. The guilt of wasting some precious moments does surface, but I look where I am now and my guilt lessens as I am with my children more than if I had stayed put.
I have always considered Time Management a real strength of mine. Until I had children I do question this. I am a bit of a perfectionist. Well in fact to be honest I am a “huge” perfectionist and as much as I still try to work on reducing my expectations across all areas of my life, since the children arrived it still causes me problems.
Don’t get me wrong, I live by lists, small and long lists but I am still always in a mad rush. The satisfaction when I have cleared a huge list, then another appears. I am not sure if I have too much to do at times and find it hard to say “no”. With 2 children, a house to run, developing my own business and additional freelance work it sounds like pretty much like most mums workload? Right?
So, why does it feel at times as if the wheels are falling off?
I still manage to deliver though, no matter how long the list, even if it kills me!
I live by Time Management and think it is an essential accessory for any working mums. We always manage to dig it out when up against it!
Today I have been working in London. I meticulously plan for the next day, get up earlier than needed, see to children, of course perfect myself and leg it for the tube. Whilst in transit, I use my blackberry all the way until I arrive at work. There isn’t a spare moment. The same applies on the journey home and then the mummy/domestic duties begin!
I have literally just sat down at 10pm after making tea for kids, read with oldest child, bath and bed and just to finish myself off I have been for a run to straighten my mind.
Does this sound familiar?!
Did you know that there are more working mums today, compared with over 15 years ago? Also, nearly the same percentage of women working with children is (66%) compared to women working without dependant children (67%). The gap between the two has narrowed significantly over the past 15 years.
A recent study carried out by the ONS – Office of National Survey, highlighted that more mums today are in fact working in full-time employment 29%, which is 6% higher than in 1996. This is almost a third of the entire female working population. In some respects, this increase in full-time working has become more accessible with higher quality and a varied choice of childcare, an increase in flexible friendly employment and the support of home-working.
Over this period mums working part-time hasn’t shifted either way, however this population was the higher percentage, 37% of the overall study. This I wouldn’t have thought was an unusual figure with many mums wanting to strive towards a “balance” between their family and employment. Since 1996 there have been steps encouraging parents to work and with improved parental pay and leave, introduction of “home-working”, a push for more flexible friendly employers and the right to request flexible working hours.
When you look at these facts and figures above, although there has been a constant drive for more flexible opportunities and attitudes, our working culture has actually shifted in the right direction which is a positive. I believe many working mums (including myself) would think there is still room for improvement, however when you look at what has been created for supporting working mums, this may now be eroded with cuts in childcare tax credits, job losses and the plans to abandon the right to request flexible working.
Will this reduce the number of working mums? I am inclined to think not as the appetite for mums to work is on the rise and as demonstrated even more mums are now working full-time. Let’s hear your thoughts..