Categories
Gender Pay Gap Mums Returning To Work

The Gender Impact Of Covid-19

How Bad Can It Be?

Women make up 39% of global employment, but account for 54% (so far) of Covid-19 related job losses. This means women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s (McKinsey). Not great news for efforts to close the gender pay gap.

Before Coronavirus, there had been slow progress in closing the gender pay gap, gender parity remained uneven. Without intervention, a real risk exists that slow progress made, could go into reverse. Not only holding back gender equality but the global economy. 

Why Are Women Bearing The Brunt?

Women are disproportionately represented in industries and jobs negatively impacted by Coronavirus (think hospitality, tourism, retail, childcare…). However this only explains one quarter of why women have been more vulnerable to job losses.

Coronavirus, has seen many women assume the lion’s share of the childcare, home schooling and household chores. All whilst trying to hold down the career they worked tirelessly to achieve. This highlights that socially we still live in a world where such responsibilities are assumed to be “women’s work”. This has resulted in a huge volume of women feeling they need to make a choice between their careers and their families. 

The “second shift” as it is often referred to (when the unpaid job of childcare, household chores, cooking, cleaning kick in after actual working hours!) has been increasingly shared by men. But, it is a fact women are still bearing most of the load. Women are being interrupted by household demands at a much higher rate than men, meaning performance at work is more heavily impacted. Childcare is still being cited as one of the number one reasons for women not being able to work (CNBC).

What Does This Mean For Women In The Longer Term?

Whilst many men have been able to lock themselves away to carry out a full days work, many women have not. This could mean an impact on their output. Quite possibly also on their perceived performance and therefore their potential development and promotional opportunities. The stark reality is the impact of Coronavirus on women’s careers may well be felt long after the virus is out of circulation. A widening of the gender pay gap, not closing it as we’ve long fought for. This will then only exacerbate the pay and promotion gaps that were already in existence. 

One good thing to come from this is more focus on and acceptance of the need for flexible working. However even this is not viewed equally. Some say men are encouraged to make use of flex to enhance productivity. Women are expected to adopt flexible working to allow more capacity for their unpaid work.

All of this goes to show equality at work and embracing flexibility for all is not just a nice thing to do. It should be a requirement of all employers. Women can’t be everything to everyone all of the time. Using flexibility to suggest this is possible is not the right solution. We need flex for all. We need to be able to manage personal and professional lives in unison. Not as a way to attempt to be the doer of even more things!

Does This Have To Mean Bad News For The Gender Pay Gap?

There’s no debating times are tough and women really have arguably taken the biggest hit. This doesn’t mean we have to accept this as our fate. We cannot rewind back to the 1950s. 

The Covid crisis has allowed us to redress the balance a little at home. I know in my household, my husband being home and seeing more of the children has had a positive impact on all of us. We are a calmer and happier household. I am less resentful of him having the “luxury” of being out of the house all day. He is less exhausted from hours on a train struggling to find time for exercise and rarely seeing the kids outside of the weekend; the children clearly see him as a more equal care-giver than they did previously.

Many of my clients have found remote working opportunities which historically would have been purely office based – one of the reasons some had left their careers several years back. There is less feeling of needing to prove ourselves before we ask for flex or remote working. It’s a fact of life that we all continue to need this and I have high hopes many organisations will keep this as a permanent feature. 

Having time away from the workplace (whilst hugely stress-inducing for those that have worked throughout), has allowed time for reflection. Time to consider what we truly want from our lives and careers. Investors In People have found one in three of the UK’s population are unhappy in their current role or industry. This in itself is not cause for celebration. But we may have just carried on pushing through without this time of pause and reflection. Ending up in a much more unhappy place. 

The Question Now Is What To Do Next?

Albert Einstein said “In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity” and this is something we all must remember. Organisations can take this chance to change how they embrace flexible working, how they manage performance and promotional activity; parents have more opportunity to bring more equality to the unpaid work at home; we all have a chance to truly consider what we want. Now it feels hard, like we just need to get through it. But what can you take from this? Work towards the future you want that this unexpected pause in life has allowed you to see?

Can We Continue To Close The Gender Pay Gap?

We are in uncertain times. Work practices are changing, for the better we hope. So while this pandemic may have set women back, I know that women are fighters and we will bounce back from this. Stronger and better than before.

Find Rebecca on our career coaching page

Categories
Career Change Mums Returning To Work

The Career Passion Killers

Career Passion Killers

We all know children are passion killers. But nobody tells us we may find ourselves robbed of our career passion too. Many mums return to work, ready to get back to being them. Only to find the career they used to love has lost its shine.

The Pre-children Career

We all expect having children will change our lives in many ways. Mainly for the better. But, let’s be honest, there are some things we begrudgingly accept as part and parcel, rather than embrace excitedly. Sleepless nights, toddler tantrums, kissing goodbye to leisurely Sunday mornings and romantic getaways… Let’s just say the excitement of an early night is for different reasons once kids are in the picture!

Taking the tube (or MRT as it is in Singapore where we lived when my first child was born), arriving into the buzz of the city, picking up a coffee, getting into the office early, embracing the chit chat – especially on a Monday hearing about everyone’s weekend antics… The office was where I spent the majority of my waking hours. I was good at what I did. Well respected, high performing – I loved my job and the environment I was in.

Returning to work I expected these feelings of fulfilment, purpose and “professional me” to come flooding back. Of course I expected adjustments – logistics of childcare being the main one – but this was time for me. I worked incredibly hard to gain a promotion just before my first maternity leave. This was to avoid feeling held back because of taking time out (which is a whole other blog post!). I had no doubt in my mind I would be a professional, career-driven mum.

Return to Work

I returned after my first maternity leave to a different job within the same company. It didn’t go well. I returned feeling unsupported, most of my key stakeholders based on the other side of the globe and in all honesty, felt out of my depth. Exhausted with a seven-month old baby waking around four times a night, feeling lost in a role I had really been newly promoted into – albeit seven months before. I fell pregnant again not long after my return. We moved back to the UK and the next few months are a bit of a blur. I knew I wasn’t happy, but put it down to all the changes – new baby, new job, relocation.

Next time would be different. Returning after my second and final maternity leave would be no joke. I said to my husband “this is the next phase of my career, not me faffing about between having babies this time”. I needed to get it right, no messing around.

Where Did My Career Passion Go?

I was excited and ready to go. Then BANG. I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel the buzz I had before, in fact quite the opposite. Day by day, I felt more and more disengaged. All the passion that I had had in spades, dissipated. I became resentful of those that seemingly still loved their jobs. I was losing motivation outside of work because of how unhappy I had become. You wouldn’t want to be around me. I felt trapped. I wanted this life, I used to love my job… what was wrong with me? I tried really hard to just get on with it. I told myself things like “When the kids are a bit bigger it will feel better again”… but it didn’t. I speak to so many other women who have experienced the same. The jobs they once loved just don’t bring them satisfaction any more.

What I now understand, is that becoming a mum can shift what is important to you. The things that used to engage you, just don’t any more.

Work Values

Fast forward to now and I love my new career. When I hit my career low, I took time out. Realising having a family had, like so many others, shifted things for me. The company and the job were not the issue. Yes I could probably have been better supported upon my return, but the crux of it was I was trying to be comfortable in my old life. A life that didn’t fit any more. My values had totally changed. The things that used to matter most, didn’t any more. My career, whilst important, was not my everything any longer. I discovered, via coaching, my top values are autonomy, recognition and strong relationships. The reality is, whilst these were being met in part, it was not in a way that also fitted with my needs as a parent of young children.

This of course doesn’t happen to every working mum. There are many happy working mothers – which is fantastic! However, when you do lose the passion you once had, it can hit you hard. Leaving you feeling guilty, confused, unhappy and trapped.

In my coaching I talk a lot about career happiness. I strongly believe being happy in your career is critical. Some feel it’s selfish – surely doing the right thing for our family is the most important thing? Being happy in work impacts how happy we are out of work – as a mother, wife and friend and so is not selfish at all. As parents we owe it to our children to show them we are important as individuals and that we can achieve change for the better in our lives.

You may just need a push to go for it. You may have no idea what the alternative is. If that’s the case and you need help working it out, I’m here and happy to chat – here’s my diary.

You Don’t Have To Stay In A Job That Brings You No Joy

My message here is quite simple. If you have lost the love for your career since becoming a mum, you are not alone. There is nothing wrong with you. You don’t have to stay in a job that brings you no joy and could be damaging to your mental health. You most likely don’t hang out in the same bars and wear the same clothes you did 15 years ago (well not everyday at least!). So why should your career remain stuck in the past?

You may also be interested to read The Mum Guilt In Your Career.

Categories
Career Change Flexible Careers Mums Returning To Work Parenting and Work

The Mum Guilt In Your Career

Mum Guilt – A Fact Of Mum Life.

Feeling guilty for feeding them the wrong food, the amount of screen time they have, for being a working mother, for not sending them to enough enrichment activities… the list goes on. 70% of working women having dependent children in the UK, meaning career related mum guilt is a big deal for many of us.

If you are a mum who is passionate about your career, whilst the guilt of course is still a thing, it is definitely dampened by the fact your career makes you feel good – meaning you are a happier, more pleasant person – mum – to be around. But what happens if the passion is gone? If you are unhappy in your career and need to make changes?

As a Career Coach, I speak to many mums who feel guilty for wanting to make such changes. One mum shared “It feels so self-indulgent taking time to work out my career when I should be focussed on what my kids need”. Breaking that down, what she really said was “I’m not worthy of happiness. I should be ok with feeling desperately unhappy a large proportion of the time. My mental health isn’t as important”.

What this statement lacks is the acknowledgment remaining unhappy at work, where we spend up to 80% of our time, would, without a shadow of a doubt, have a negative impact on her over all wellbeing and mental health which would trickle into her relationships with her children, partner and other loved ones.

Being a mum, whilst being the best thing in the world, is also mentally and physically exhausting, sometimes lonely and often thankless. Layer on top a job you dislike or even hate, I can promise will not have a good outcome.

Time To Crush The Mum Guilt

The perception we can only do the job we have always done and so have to suck it up, needs destroying. I and many of my clients have worked through this belief, crushed it, made changes and are a million times happier as a result – and have not suffered significant financial impact (which is often a major concern in career change). Career change does not mean a permanent significant reduction in income nor is it a reason to feel guilty. Fixing something that’s causing immense unhappiness, stress, maybe even resentment or anger, is the best course of action not only for you, but for your family too.

Getting Back To Career Happiness

So where to start? You have made the decision to make a change (well done), but have no clue what to, or how to find the answer.  Going round in circles for some time trying to work this out is not uncommon. You are not alone – this is the exact state my clients come to me in. The bad news? You are going round in circles because you are looking for something that doesn’t exist in your head. The good news? You can do many things to get out of your head to find the answer. 

Here’s how:

Values

The most likely reason you are unhappy is because of a mismatch in your work values. It is critical to understand what’s important to you – a supportive boss? Being challenged? Autonomy? Work-life balance? Working this out is often the biggest indicator of what is wrong with your existing situation – what it is not giving you. Your career move must fit with your top values. If you struggle to figure this out, this test will help: https://www.123test.com/work-values-test/

Skills

Consider the numerous skills you have (developed both inside and outside of work). Which you want to carry on using? Think about the skills you want to use more of or develop further. Again, this will give indicators of what is going wrong in your current role – are you using skills you don’t enjoy using any more? 

Stop Looking For The Solution. 

Bare with me, I haven’t gone crazy! Constantly looking for the answer is what is keeping you stuck. It’s like trying to put the roof on a house with no walls. You need to figure out what the walls are made of first – what will bring you happiness? As above,

  • What are your work values and skills you want to use?
  • Consider your interests?
  • Figure out your non-negotiables?
  • What do you need to feel satisfied at work?

Once you are clearer on these areas you can start thinking of solutions.

Get New Input. 

When the answer does not lie in your own head, you need new input. Take responsibility to find this. Talk to new people, attend workshops, engage with someone with a different, but interesting, job. Google research is great, but there’s a high risk of getting sucked into a black hole, watching cat videos before you know it! Nothing is better than actual human connection for new input to really make a positive impact. Expanding input will open you up to new ideas you didn’t even know existed!

No Filter!

When considering options look out for “I would love to… but”. Thinking of something and moving to all the reasons it won’t work, you filter, validate and decide in one go, based on assumption. Instead write all possible ideas down – crazy and sensible. Research those you are most drawn to. Once you research and understand what that career change would entail then, and only then, you rule it in or out.

This way you know why you want to do a something and look for ways to make it happen – rather than reasons it can’t. Some options you will decide are not viable, but deciding based on fact – not assumption – is the key. 

Taking Control

Taking control of your career when you are stuck and unhappy is nothing to feel guilty or self indulgent about. The cost of ignoring it will be way higher. You deserve more – and so do your children. You are most certainly worth it! Time to crush the mum guilt.

This process is not easy or quick, but definitely possible. If you need help working it all out, I’m here and happy to chat – here’s my diary.

Rebecca can be found via her website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums. 

If you are looking for other blogs on career changes try this one: Successfully Navigate A Career change.

Categories
Flexible Careers Lifestyle And Wellbeing Mums Returning To Work Work Journeys

Meet Rebecca Amin

Rebecca Amin, Our New Flexible Working Warrior on MummyJobs.

One in three working mums suffer with unmanageable levels of anxiety and stress caused by managing a job and looking after children, according to a survey by Smart TMS – a mental health clinic.

This is a statistic I and, I am sure, many other mothers can relate to. Sadly this is often a silent struggle – many fearing if we voice our feelings we may be judged as a bad employee or bad mum. We thought we could have it all – the career and the family, is this how it is meant to feel? Should we just suck it up and get on with it?

I am Rebecca Amin, a Career Coach and I used to think that’s just how it would have to be. Thankfully, my mind-set has now changed, but it wasn’t easy.

Returning To Work After Maternity Leave.

In February 2016, I returned to work after my second maternity leave with all the thoughts so many of us have, “it’s my time to get back to my career, to being me again!” I returned, full of excitement, ready for phase two of my career – the post-children part. With some trepidation – I had returned from one maternity leave two years before and struggled. I had fallen pregnant quite soon after my return, so put my lack of passion for my work down to pregnancy and first time mum stuff – getting to grips with nursery, new routine etc. This time it was for real. Time to make my mark again, get back to the heady days of high performance, recognition, loving my career again…

BANG. It didn’t happen. At first I gave myself time to settle back in, gave myself allowances. However, each day felt harder and harder to find motivation for my work and all passion for what I did had gone. The fact was the environment and work I was doing had lost its shine. I didn’t care enough. I still did what was needed, because I had to, not because I got any enjoyment from my work.

This is not what I expected. I had always enjoyed my job. At first I felt confused – what was wrong with me? Was I suffering from delayed post-natal depression? Why was everyone else happy? Then guilt – why is this not enough for me? I should feel lucky to have a good job, healthy kids, a nice home… Next resent and anger. Why should I do this? Why can’t I do something that gives me some satisfaction?

Looking back, this looks like the stages of grief and I now believe, in some way, I was grieving my working life pre-children. 

My Career No Longer Suited Me.

Don’t get me wrong – I love being a mum. I wanted to have a career, but I couldn’t carry on like this. As I worked through what was happening it became clear the career I was in was simply the wrong fit for me at this point in my life. I wanted to do something more worthwhile and meaningful to me. I needed to make a change – but what and how?

Despite the creeping sense of greyness blanketing my life, I needed my salary and an alternative job that I felt excited about, at the right level was hard to find. As a result, I wound up feeling completely stuck.

The Need To Make Positive Career Choices.

For a time, I told myself sticking with a job I was unhappy in, was what it meant to be grown-up. It was the realistic and responsible choice… But this approach was not sustainable if I wanted to protect my mental health and be happy at work, and therefore in life, again. I went round in circles and eventually bit the bullet and made changes. I took a four month sabbatical. During which I spent time reflecting on what would make me happy. I thought about what I really needed in my working life and career and trained as an accredited Career Coach.

I have since found these thoughts and feelings of course were not exclusive to me. It made me feel shocked and saddened to realise just how prevalent this unhappiness, anxiety and stress is, in working mums. This is why I dedicate my coaching to supporting mums in the same situation.

Of course not all stressed mums need a total career change. Some do, but some simply need tweaks – more flexibility. Not to be made to feel guilty for going to Sports Day, not smiling on the outside apparently holding it all together, but regularly hiding in the bathroom crying on the days it all feels too much.

Mental Health At Work.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, almost 15% of working adults experience mental health problems in the workplace. Women in full-time work are twice as likely to suffer than men (19.8% vs. 10.9%). People Management have reported more than a third who have flexible working experience an improvement in their mental health as a direct result. 

The Future Of Work.

I love supporting my clients to take control and figure out changes to get back to being happy in their careers again. What I would love even more would be if more felt flexibility at work was an option. Not something gifted to you once you have proved yourself after years of service. And I don’t mean the honour of being allowed to work from home on a Friday, but true flexibility that impacts on life for the better. Seeing so many leave jobs with flexibility at the crux of their struggles is outrageous. The talent lost. The confidence shattered of individuals feeling like they are failing. The belief they can’t continue professional careers if they have children and need flexibility. 

The optimist in me feels the tide may be turning. I for one truly hope we may be at a pivotal point for flexible working. 

If you enjoyed this post share across your social platforms. Also tune in next month to read more on children being career passion killers…

If you would like to find out more about my Career Coaching, please visit my website Rebecca Amin Coaching.

Or connect with me on my Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums. 

Rebecca Amin
Rebecca Amin