One of the things that I have been passionate about during my time as a business owner is supporting working mums. I find it truly distressing to hear about the number of women who have had great corporate careers, then they decide to start a family and struggle to go back to work. Or they go back to work and end up compromising their role as mum.
Life has moved into the 21st Century, yet working practices are still stuck in the 1970s, even despite our rapid move to online working.
There are an estimated 870,000 stay at home parents in the UK. How many of those would take a job if they could find something suitable?
Businesses are missing a trick when it comes to tapping into the pool of talent and experience offered by would-be working mums (and dads). If only they could be more innovative and flexible.
Where have all the mum jobs gone?
Being a mother is a constant battle. Juggling the various challenges and conflicts motherhood offers, whilst desperately attempting to maintain identity. For many mothers, retaining that identity means going to work or continuing their career (and in most cases it is also a financial necessity).
Why do they struggle to go back into work?
Well it’s simple, there are a limited number of businesses who offer truly flexible roles that will allow women to continue to work and look after their family.
A slave to school hours
Working hours are impossible for mums. Since Covid struck and so many businesses began working from home. Finally, there was hope for flexibility and acceptance/realisation that not everyone needs to be in the office 8 – 6 seven days a week.
Our working days seem to get longer, and we’ve become a prisoner to our phones. Yet our schooling system, childcare and employers have not seemed to evolve at the same speed. During a time when employers are struggling to fill roles, it’s so obvious to me that they are missing out on a pool of talented mums, if only they were open minded about working hours.
There are so many women out there, so many mothers, so many industrious ladies trying to balance it all, yet we are fighting an uphill battle. Of course, this applies to dads in charge of childcare too. However, the pool of under-utilised yet talented mothers is vast.
And why should they need to compromise their role as mum?
I have seen it many times, working mums who decide to condense a full-time role into 4 days per week and then just end up working on their day off because the business needs it. Many end up working more hours than contracted in the first place. Or mums who hire a nanny to pursue a career and they end up sacrificing precious time with the children as they grow up.
As a result, you end up seeing mums who don’t see their family or those that don’t get the opportunity to use their skills and talent that they have worked hard to achieve, which is really sad. For me it highlights some of the challenges of being a working mum and how difficult it can be to spin all those plates evenly.
Outside of deciding to work from home, jobs for mums can be difficult to find. These days, many women are taking control of their working life by starting their own businesses – mums in particular.
I have to say that it does feel like we are still living in the dark ages, why are women not able to successfully have both? I think this is one of the main reasons why we see the number of people going self-employed rising year on year. Eventually the only losers will be the corporates who just don’t want to move with the times.
We are missing out on utilising such a great pool of talent and all because there is a lack of truly flexible roles that can work around raising a family.
One of the biggest positives of all this is that I consider businesses like my own to be highly successful because we value working mums for their skills and experience. We are proud to be able to offer highly talented flexible resource which exceeds our client’s expectations. For me it would be a no brainer to welcome a working mum into your team as a virtual assistant.
Overqualified, under utilised
When I talk to my other ‘mum friends’ they are all in varying degrees of the same predicament. Some work full time but barely see their children and spend a small fortune on childcare, others work ‘part time’ but the hours are still completely unsuitable. It doesn’t work for the needs of the family but they are the best they can find in the current climate.
Some have asked to modify their hours or job roles. and the change has been refused. Or else they have been too scared to ask in case it stands them in a negative light in the eyes of their employer. Or I have friends who despite being incredibly capable, their confidence has taken such a knock from being out of the wheels of industry for so long. As a consequence, I see them applying for jobs that they are widely overqualified for, on pittance salaries.
It seems that the conventional office set up just won’t work for many working mums anymore or until the children are older and more self-sufficient. I can’t help feeling that employers are missing out on experience, energy and enthusiasm, if only they appreciate the shackles of school opening times and can take a flexible approach to employment. The pool of people out there, in a similar position, is vast.