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Diversity and Inclusion High Profile Returners Lifestyle And Wellbeing Mums Returning To Work Professional Mums Work Journeys

Imposter Syndrome – Fix Bias, Not Women

Imposter Syndrome. We have all heard of it. If you are a high-achieving female you may well think you have it. If you don’t, you will know many others that do.  But, what if Imposter Syndrome isn’t real? What if it is a resulting factor of society and biology combined?

The 66% of women ‘suffering’ with Imposter Syndrome (according to a study by Access Commercial Finance) may be shouting “no, it’s definitely real”. Bare with me…

You can loosely define imposter syndrome as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Many question whether they’re deserving of accolades.

Where did Imposter Syndrome come from?

Psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes developed the concept. Originally termed “imposter phenomenon,” in their 1978 founding study. The study focused on 150 high-achieving women. They recorded that “despite outstanding academic and professional accomplishments, women who experience the imposter phenomenon persist in believing that they are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise.”

This study, despite it being based on just 150 participants, spurred decades of development programmes and initiatives. These were all in an effort to address imposter syndrome in women. Many high-profile women have shared they suffer with IS. Examples include – former First Lady Michelle Obama and Tennis champion Serena William. If you want to find out how to “overcome” Imposter Syndrome, a quick Google search shows up more than 5 million results.

What if Women Aren’t The Problem?

What’s less well explored, is why imposter syndrome exists in the first place. The advent came with the study mentioned above in 1978, but what about before then? Did it just not happen? Or has something changed in society or with “sufferers” that has resulted in this pandemic?

A theory I subscribe to is that workplace systems and simple biology may have a lot to answer for. Currently, women are almost blamed for having Imposter Syndrome. They are told they are suffering and need to overcome it. They are ‘diagnosed’ with a condition. So, it must be down to them.

Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey explored this further. Their published findings, in a Harvard Business Review article, share “imposter syndrome puts the blame on individuals, without accounting for the historical and cultural contexts that are foundational to how it manifests… Imposter syndrome directs our view toward fixing women at work instead of fixing the places where women work.”

Maybe You Are Just Normal!

Feeling uncomfortable, second-guessing yourself and mild anxiety are all normal. These feelings are more prevalent in women at work. Men of course experience similar feelings. However, men are often selected based on capability rather than history. The opposite is true for women. It stands to reason if you haven’t done a certain thing before suddenly you feel out of your depth. As a man’s potential is validated over time, feelings of doubt are reduced. Add on the fact men are easily able to find role models in the workplace. Mentors who are like them and are less inclined to question their competence. It therefore makes sense that these very normal feelings have a lesser impact and are less likely to be labelled.

Women experience the opposite. We question if we have the credentials we need to achieve. We hear “women often suffer with Imposter Syndrome”. In fact career development programmes aimed at women almost always have a session on “overcoming imposter syndrome”. It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When women demonstrate strength, ambition, and resilience, they are often described as “aggressive” or “overly assertive”. The idea of imposter syndrome doesn’t take account of workplace dynamics and suggests women need to deal with the “issue”instead.

Men Are From Mars…

It is a biological fact women are programmed to be more risk averse. They are more likely to be perfectionists. Jessica Baker, a Business Psychologist, says we are wired to not step too far into the unknown – left from when we needed fear to protect us, and our young. Also, there are a disproportionate number of men in leadership roles. This means falsely equating confidence with certain traits that are most often demonstrated by male leaders. We then interpret these traits as competence and leadership. Thus, if we don’t have these certain male dominant traits, we question ourselves, decide we lack confidence and diagnose Imposter Syndrome.

Fixing Bias and Society – Not Women

The “fix women’s imposter syndrome” narrative has persisted, decade after decade. Perhaps instead workplaces should focus on creating a culture for women that addresses bias.

In the mid-1990s Clance, the ‘founder’ of Imposter Syndrome suggested the impostor phenomenon could also be attributed as far back as the way girls are communicated with as children. People would compliment girls on being “pretty” and “chatty”. Whilst “Brave” and “intelligent” used for boys. These concepts can define us. It is therefore easier to put success down to luck or being liked. Not individual success.

All this said, I do not totally dismiss Imposter Syndrome as “a thing”. But, I do wonder if

  • we address healthy, normal self-doubt via supportive work cultures,
  • seeing more women in positions of leadership and
  • not using vague feedback like “you need to better develop your leadership qualities”.

we may be in a better place.

Is Imposter Syndrome is a stand-alone syndrome? Or is it a result of complex societal, biological and workplace factors? Either way, it still affects us.

Then how do we deal with it? Ask yourself “where is the evidence that you are doing a terrible job or making bad decisions?”. The fear is irrational. Your current experience of it is often far worse than the negative outcome you are anticipating.

Rebecca Amin is a Career Coach helping parents, find their paths back to career happiness. Find Rebecca via her website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums.

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Child Care Dads Flexible Careers Gender Pay Gap Parental Coaching Parenting and Work Professional Mums Work Journeys

Management- Where is the female talent?

A third of organisations globally have no female talent in senior management roles (market-inspector.co.uk).  This was reported before Covid, it has been reported Covid has had a disproportionate impact on the careers of women. A LinkedIn study found that women were less likely to be hired than men during peak lockdown periods. Despite more women being made redundant or leaving jobs. 

There are so many things that may be contributing to these damaging statistics. Are women not applying to roles due to prioritisation of the overwhelming childcare and home-schooling plunged upon them? Are men not doing enough to support women and so they feel they can’t apply for a new job? Do organisations discourage their male employees requesting the flexibility that would allow their female partners to re-engage into the workforce? Or are organisations not considering female talent in the same volume as those from men? And therefore, even if unintentionally, contributing to these statistics?

Given the data recently shared by Find Your Flex, it is clear, that application clicks are 79% female. 47% of their audience is male, this demonstrates there is a wealth of female talent actively seeking high value jobs. 

Sssshhhh… Daddy’s working

Sadly still live in a time where, in many households, women are seen as the parent. That they should do the lions share of childcare and household chores. Even when the playing field of working hours and the impact of the pandemic is equal. I hear endless comments from working mums across the country saying things like “it’s so hard trying to get it all done – the home-schooling and working plus trying to keep them from interrupting daddy all day”. Why can’t daddy be interrupted?! 

Of course it is not my place to judge how households decide to cope during this totally dire time. But if it has just been assumed the responsibility of the kids falls to mum then, please, for the sake of women across the land have a conversation. Plot out what needs to be done – all the home-schooling, chores – everything – and decide who does what. If this impacts daddy’s work schedule then, just like mummy, he needs to find ways to accommodate. (I should say here I know this isn’t the case in all households. Many dads are brilliant at sharing the load. But many just haven’t realised it’s a shared responsibility, or see their job as not flexible… Did they ask?).

It is okay to let go you know.

Women also need to let go. We cannot control everything. I had a word with myself at the start of this home-school period. I couldn’t be the gate-keeper – being the only one that can log onto Google Classroom and hand in work. The only one that remembers to look for supermarket deliveries and figures out what to eat every day. I sat and gave my husband a Google Classroom lesson on day two as day one almost broke me.

I don’t check the work hubby now does with the kids. He and the kids enjoy him engaging with them and seeing their learning. I don’t walk around in a passive aggressive mumbling rage so much as last time. Winning all round! The kids don’t get their iPads if their beds aren’t made and the playroom isn’t tidy. Mums need to relinquish responsibility and trust someone else to do some of what they see as their load. If not we will never have time or headspace to find that career opportunity which is waiting there for us.

Scared to say the ‘F’ word

But back to this 79% of females applying to roles on Find Your Flex. The talent is clearly there. Ready, willing and able to be hired and contribute to organisations. To bring the female perspective and skill set that all organisations need. It is known the roles advertised on Find Your Flex are open and ready to be flexible. I fear this isn’t the case across other sites and those organisations not showing up on this site. I still have conversations with coaching clients about approaching an organisation and asking for flexibility – like it’s a dirty word. Applying through Find Your Flex removes anxiety for those who need to have “the chat” during the recruitment process. 

In my opinion, shifting the balance begins with organisations showing the men of the world Flex is for all. Showing men to see working flexibly or part-time isn’t a negative reflection on their masculinity. Allowing men to be available in their families. Allowing them to grow stronger bonds as equal caregivers to their children. To make room for females to work equally – to not have working gender equality set back 50 years plus.

The job market is tough, but jobs are there and female talent most definitely is. The crisis could be an opportunity. An opportunity for organisations to invest and build more empathetic and flexible workplaces. To retain and attract those most impacted by this pandemic. Nurturing a work environment where women have equal opportunity to develop their careers. And men have equal opportunity to be present in their families.

Rebecca Amin is a Career Coach helping parents feeling stuck in their careers, find their paths back to career happiness. Rebecca can be found via her website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums. 

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Mums Returning To Work Professional Mums Work Journeys

The Great Baby And Career Balancing Act

How I Balanced A Baby And A Career

Guest Post By Lyndsey Shankland

As a businesswoman, my whole adult life was dedicated to my career in recruitment. I loved it! Balancing a baby and a career hadn’t been on the agenda. My true passion was my career, my reason for being, and everything else could wait.

But that all changed when I turned 38. Cupid’s arrow struck. Now generally speaking, I’m not someone to jump straight in, but this was it. By the age of 39 I was married. I became a new mother just three weeks after my 41st birthday.

Yep, I might be a slow starter when it comes to having a family of my own. However, when it’s right, it’s right!

I had real problems getting my head around the concept of taking six months off work. I mean, who was going to lead my projects, partner with my stakeholders, source new candidates and help keep those business wheels turning? How would I balance a baby and a career?

Even with years of experience working in American businesses globally and in regional roles, with responsibility for leading teams across EMEA, APAC and AMER I worried.  Would I be cast aside now I was a mother with other priorities was never far from my mind?

With so many women finding themselves ‘surplus to requirements’ and facing redundancy after returning from maternity leave, the days with my newborn were tainted with worry.

And sadly, my worries weren’t unfounded

The Return To Work… Or Not!

I enjoyed six blissful months of maternity leave with my little Oliver. Then on my first day back at work I was hit with a huge bombshell. My role was being relocated to the US. There was absolutely no way I could move.

Not only did I have my husband and son to think about, but my mum has young on-set vascular dementia and needs me more now than ever.

I went through a storm of emotions as I struggled to come to terms with the ‘loss’ of the job I loved. I’d always been the stronger partner in a financial sense. So worries about the mortgage, bills, other financial commitments, an unwell mother and a new baby caused a lot of anxiety.

How was I going to set myself apart from other job seekers in an already saturated market? For anyone who’s ever had an insight into the recruitment industry, you’ll know that recruiters are like gremlins – put a little water on us and we multiply!

How was I going to compete with these bright young things that didn’t have the commitments and family priorities I did?

Taking Back Control

So, I had two choices. Either put on my dressing gown and drown my sorrows in a family-sized tub of Ben and Jerry’s, or get proactive.

I took the latter option. I took control of the situation with the life-changing decision to start my own business.

After all, I had 18 years experience as an in-house head of talent acquisition. I have seen the good, bad and ugly of the recruitment world first hand. So why should I end up on the career scrap heap just because I had a child?

I considered my goals and formed my plan of action. I wanted to be a good recruiter of course, but I also wanted to be a good wife, daughter and mother.

Flexibility Is Key

For my plan to succeed, flexibility was central. Before I decided to start my own business, I was headhunted numerous times. I found however that employers were put off by my insistence on regular home office days and my need to balance a baby with a career.

So, I started out on my own with a business model of working with only a select number of clients in engineering and pharmaceutical markets, taking on just 2 or 3 at a time.

This allowed me to offer a higher quality, fully tailored recruitment service to both the global businesses I support and the talent I headhunt.

Clients And Cuddles

Fast forward to October this year. I’m working on four roles for two different clients. This doesn’t just ‘bring home the bacon’ as you’d say, it means I can fit in a cuddle with Oliver and hubby Iain. I can do so without feeling a crippling sense of guilt that I’m letting anyone down.

We have lunch together, and then I crack back on with the international calls. We’ve flown to a few places together already too: Dubai, Milan, Florence, Hamburg. We are due to visit the US in a couple of weeks. It’s living the dream of being able to keep the career I’ve worked hard to achieve AND feel like I can be a good wife and Mum too!

And it’s on MY terms

It’s still early days yet. Some days the struggle is real, trying to balance a baby and a career – but it’s on our terms as a family.

I’m still feeling really positive about the future.

I can’t say too much right now, but I’ll be taking on a new role towards the end of the year. This is with a business which values my skills. Skills that haven’t changed just because I’m a mother. They appreciate that I need some family time too. I’ve finally found a position that allows me to do the job I love and carry on with the most important roles of all – a mummy, a wife and a daughter.

Mum and baby birthday celebrations

My Advice To You

If you think you’re in the worst situation possible and about to lose your job, I’m living proof that you can regain control of your life. You can continue to follow your dreams without compromising on integrity or family commitments.

I still have to work very hard to keep all the plates spinning, but I’m enjoying it! My skills are still relevant and in demand even though I have a family. I am balancing a baby and a career!

And as a recruitment expert and mum, I should know!

Blog Post by Lyndsey Shankland

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High Profile Returners Mums Returning To Work Productivity & Flexibility Professional Mums Work Journeys

An HR Journey with Pitney Bowes!

This Mum Can…

I have multiple jobs in my life, (1) mummy to two crazy, beautiful, boisterous boys (2) wife and general domestic goddess 😉 (3) career HR professional looking to change the world! Life is busy, my mind is busy. Lack of time frustrates me, yet I am determined to make it all work. Determined to make a difference.

The Juggling Act

This is all made possible with trust and empowerment, complete workplace autonomy from thought to working arrangements and amazing childcare. Me and the hubby manage nursery pick up and drop off, we don’t have family who can look after the kids, therefore having understanding childcare provision is so important to me.

Getting The Experience

Rewind back to 2003, studying for a degree in HR & Business. Not wanting to be one of those people who ‘just had a degree’, I set out to gain real life experience. Having worked in River Island and New Look in the evenings and at the weekend, I connected with retailers. I asked them to take me on for FREE in their HR team.

I was incredibly grateful to the HR Director, and the team at Faith Footwear Limited. They fully integrated me and gave me fabulous insights, projects and learning opportunities. You’ll be pleased to know that they did pay me too ;-).

From there I went to TUI for a short stint, until they closed their Greater London House office. Then I went to Sodexho. I worked under a superb manager who gave me huge learning opportunities to really find my feet.

The Move To Pitney Bowes

Starting to get more settled at home I made the move to Pitney Bowes. This was closer to home too. Fast forward 11 years and I’m still here. I work with a collaborative, exciting and dynamic leadership team. I’m proud to work with them. They embrace my crazy, quirky ideas and I’m part of their team. None of this exciting stuff would be possible without their engagement, and the support of others in the HR team. I partner closely with my Talent Acquisition partners who have joined me on this journey.

“At Pitney Bowes we recognise the importance of building a diverse and inclusive pipeline of talent. We’re a growing business, almost 100 years old, and we’re currently in the middle of an exciting transformation. Our people play a crucial part in this journey.”

What Do Pitney Bowes Offer?

I’m hugely excited and proud that in 2018 we launched a collection of Family Friendly roles. From a contingent workforce model, school hours, term time to job pairs. With every sales role that we have, we always consider each time – can we make this work differently? Every step of the way we are assessing the effectiveness of these roles, determining ways to engage the talent pool and tell them about our unique value proposition.

Along with our Family Friendly roles, we created our Charter, to help explain our commitment to this space:

“Family life is important. We get it. At Pitney Bowes we recognise the importance of balancing work and personal life. We offer fantastic career opportunities, flexibility, but most importantly, understanding.”

We welcome applications from those who want to be able to care of loved ones, older and younger, and those of the furry kind.  Not forgetting those who want to quit the 9-5 or those who just occasionally are able to connect with their work selves. So basically all those who want flexibility.

At the end of Q3 we will complete a formal review of these roles and the impact that they have had. We want to see the impact on our organisation, our teams and on the lives of those who we have been able to welcome in to the workplace. I’m passionate and I care. Therefore I cannot wait to see how this intervention transforms our employee experience.

Learn More About Pitney Bowes

If you’d like to learn more about who we are, our offering or simply network. Or maybe you want to understand how we can create the platform for more flexibility in the workplace get in touch! Drop me a line at: Angela.holland@pb.com

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High Profile Returners Mums Returning To Work Professional Mums

High Profile Returners… Helen Wright is doing it for herself, for you and for the love of flex.

The birth of “9-2-3” has been a very personal journey. Following a career as a Broadcast Journalist (where I worked for both the BBC and ITV), I stopped working to have a family. During this time, amongst other things, I was Vice Chair of the local Pre School and joined the Parish Council. But when I wanted to return to the workplace, I found being tied to the school run was prohibitive, as was the cost of hiring a nanny to look after my three children.

Chatting to other mums in the playground, I realised I was not alone. There were accountants, solicitors, marketing execs, HR professionals… the list goes on. None were working. What a brain drain! What a waste of experience. Here was a bunch of over-talented women all keen to work – all wanting to put their considerable expertise back to good use.

In short, I realised there are lots of talented workers struggling to be discovered, along with lots of employers struggling to find the professionals they needed. So in 2015 I decided to set up a recruitment agency, “9-2-3”, in order to help connect them.

9-2-3 specialises in flexible roles – whether that’s 9-3 school hours, more traditional part-time hours (of a few days a week) or even full-time hours (but with some home-working or compressed hours).

All the research shows that flexible workers are more productive, have fewer sick days, and greater staff retention – plus they’re more engaged at work, they want to be there!

Last year 9-2-3 commissioned some research of our own which showed that 3 out of 4 office workers (both male and female) believe that we will all be working flexibly within 5 years. After all, flexible working benefits everyone – both businesses and candidates; whether they’re mums or dads, or those with caring responsibilities, or those simply seeking a better work-life balance (so they can come into their place of work feeling refreshed, valued and raring to go).

9-2-3 has enjoyed continued growth and success (in fact we’re hiring ourselves now). We’ve been working with a variety of forward-thinking businesses, all looking to recruit experienced professionals on a flexible basis. We’re currently working on roles in the charity sector, HR, sales, finance and more…

Last year we also launched The 9-2-3 Club, with an exciting event at Westminster – supported by MPs and Ministers. The idea behind the Club is to give members the opportunity to get together at regular meetings where they can share experiences and gain in confidence before re-entering the workplace. These meetings are designed to be fun and informal get-togethers, where we can share experiences and feel inspired and empowered to move our careers forward in a flexible way.

I believe there’s a revolution taking place in our workplaces, and that flexible working is the future. The more of us shouting about it – the louder our voice! So the next time you are speaking to an employer, ask them what flexible working arrangements they have in place, and together we can improve our workplaces for everyone.

You can find all Helen’s latest flexible roles here

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Mums Returning To Work Productivity & Flexibility Professional Mums Work Journeys

I have 1.4 million candidates available but I am only sending them to Goldman Sachs!

We are currently experiencing a huge skills shortage, my financial services clients and manufacturing clients seem to spend their lives hiring, they fill one position and another becomes available. How are we going to find the staff to keep up? Well the first option and obvious one is to up-skill internally (but I’ll save that for another rant) the second option is to tap into the UKs 1.4 million eligible candidates!

| Who are they, what do they do and where do I get my hands on them?! |

Well, do you remember Susan your former FD who got pregnant but couldn’t come back full-time because of childcare? Well bingo, we have 1.4 million Susan’s.

And because 95% of employers are yet to realise we need our Susan’s and still believe the world is full of 20-year-old geniuses with 16 years’ experience willing to work for £20,000, we are currently the crappiest Western country when it comes to getting parents back into work; 27% lower than any other country in fact!

Well done United Kingdom, we have actually managed to go backwards!

After the war when we had a skills shortage (admittedly slightly more severe than the one we have now) we created on-site nurseries, so women could come to work and know there was a safe, guaranteed place for their children to be! Genius.

Now whilst 95% of employers are damn average at supporting parents back into work, 5% have actually realised the value of Susan(s) and have taken the initiative to do something about their skills shortage, staff turn over and retention! (For the purpose of this argument, I am ignoring you fantastic supporters of flexible working, this is purely focussed on on-site support) Goldman Sachs is leading the way, they now have on-site nurseries in their London, Tokyo and New York offices. In locations where they can’t provide childcare facilities, they work with local nurseries to subsidise their facilities for employees. They also provide after school and holiday clubs for 5-12 year olds, which has proved to be exceptionally popular! Around 1400 Goldman Sachs employees use their childcare services! 1400! That’s ¼ of their employees.

I know I know, Goldman Sachs have so much money it’s not a fair comparison! They could give every new starter a gold-plated calculator and diamond stapler!

“My company is too small I can’t afford to fund internal childcare” – well yes that’s pretty bloody obvious! However, you also thought you couldn’t afford a fancy meeting suite, coffee machine and serviced lift but you found a small office to rent in a shared building with all those perks.

Welcome shared office child-care suites!

https://secondhome.io/ http://www.third-door.com/ https://www.officreche.com/#

“Article 50 is coming” and we still have little to no idea on how it is going to impact our current foreign workers. We have 2.2 million EU workers; let’s say 50% leave the UK, that leaves us with an additional 1.1 million vacancies on top of the current 770,000. If you think it’s hard to recruit now, imagine an additional 1 million vacant positions!

Let’s do the maths here, if above 50% leave the UK we will be left with 1,870,000 vacancies. There are only 1.4 million unemployed people in the UK, even if they all were miraculously suitable and skilled for current vacancies we still have a deficit of 470,000 jobs with no people to fill them.

Surely this is reason enough to really consider how you are making work accessible for parents, particularly single parents!

Take 6 minutes out of your day to hear Rohan Silva and Rachel Carrell discuss how you can overcome the challenges of childcare for parents!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05b4vzh

Written by Harriet Finch @ https://www.linkedin.com/in/harrietfinch/

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High Profile Returners Mums Returning To Work Professional Mums Work Journeys

JUST GO FOR IT!

Interested in coming back to work after a break? Charlotte Blyton discusses how she got back into the workplace via Deloitte’s Return to Work programme. Since returning, she has been named one of Timewise’s Power Returners, and been promoted from Senior Manager to Associate Director. She offers her advice around returning to work.

“My advice for those thinking about returning to work after a break is just go for it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We’ve all been there and thought ‘I can’t do it’. But you can. I was considering taking a part time management job at a pre-school, until I heard about the Deloitte Return to Work programme.

I’d lost confidence; my world had narrowed and I’d lowered my expectations. A friend who’s a career coach told me I shouldn’t limit myself, that there are opportunities out there. She was right. I was one of the eight Deloitte alumni asked to join the pilot scheme in 2015. I came back in as a Senior Manager, was offered a permanent role, and am now an Associate Director in Tax Management Consulting. I believe I can be a Director; it’s just a question of getting there.

This is a fantastic opportunity to get back on the career ladder. Even just applying and going to the insight day builds your confidence. I got so much out of it, even before I was offered a role. The programme gives you a chance to get back up to speed. You still have to deliver, but in a more supportive environment.”

Charlotte Blyton
Associate Director, Tax Consulting

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High Profile Returners Mums Returning To Work Professional Mums

A friendly request from some Mums returning to work – by Lianne Baker

Dear Recruiter or Hiring Manager

Following maternity leave, us Mums are feeling a bit vulnerable. We have been out of the workplace for about a year, going through pretty much the most life changing experience we could ever go through. We have gone from a career where we felt in control and like we knew what we were doing to a world of nappies, feeding, sleepless nights, late night Googling of unknown reasons why a baby might cry and we have had whole days where we didn’t speak to a single adult.

We were feeling nervous about what life would be like as a working Mum so we were hoping to go back to the familiarity of the job we already knew and were good at. We were hoping to work slightly adjusted hours to give us a chance of being able to put our own baby to bed, whilst still doing a good job. Our employers were so excited to meet our babies and cooed over them but then they asked us to fill out a huge form and then in a meeting that lasted less than 10 minutes, they firmly said no. Just like that, our years of service and hard work came to nothing.

Feeling at our most rejected and vulnerable we are applying to the very few flexible roles that exist. We are sending out our CV’s and meeting all the recruitment agencies. We are squeezing into old suits that don’t really fit anymore whilst connecting with hundreds of people on LinkedIn. We are applying for jobs and preparing for job interviews whilst feeding our babies.

With that in mind we just have a few friendly requests;

● Please take us seriously. We haven’t had our brains sucked out, we have just been busy learning new things.
● Please do your best to stick to telephone call times or be understanding about re-arranging for another day. We have carefully planned these calls around nap times and childcare so if you are 25 minutes late, we might not be able to take your call quite so easily.
● Please don’t ask us to take dramatic pay cuts. Childcare is really expensive and we need every penny we are worth.
● Please don’t pull apart our CV’s and question all of our career choices. Now is not the time to make us feel worthless. Instead give us constructive advice about how to make our CV or application really stand out or ask questions to gather information that brings out the best from us.
● Please don’t force us to take a job that we don’t want. We may be keen to find a new job, but that doesn’t mean we have to take something that won’t work for us.
● Please don’t suggest we change our career path. We have spent years getting to where we were because we enjoy it and want to do it. Having a child doesn’t mean that our ambitions have changed.
● Please don’t ask us (or anyone) to fill out lengthy application forms if our CV isn’t right for your role. What a waste of everyone’s time.
● Please don’t treat us like we are a risky hire. You won’t find someone harder working and more focused than a parent who has to leave on time to do the nursery or school pick up.
● Please spare some time to give us feedback. We have spent valuable time applying for your job, the least you can do is give us some considered and constructive feedback.
● Please consider the hours of your role and whether there is some flexibility around your office hours. Even your ‘flexible’ hours might not be suitable for as many people as you think.
● Please treat us like you would want your own mother to be treated if she was applying for your job. This probably was her a few years ago.

Thanks, from some hardworking professional women who are also Mothers

Categories
High Profile Returners Professional Mums

Flexibility is not just a job benefit, it gets better business outcomes

At the beginning of 2018, commuters received their annual shock.

The holidays are over, you’re having a dry month, you promised yourself you’d exercise, and just when life can’t feel any harder going – oh, UK rail fares have jumped 3.4% on average!

Travel costs account for 13% of a person’s salary for the average Chelmsford to London commuter – in fact, much of the pain of these increases is felt by people who need to make their way into London from elsewhere to work.

It begs the question: why, in this world of flexible working, is commerce still so obsessed with working out of offices in London? According to Instant Offices, the average desk space in the West End now costs £732 per month. Multiplied by a workforce, this can be a serious expense. If you’ve got 100 employees you’re close to £1m a year before you even furnish the place.

So why are so many businesses still insisting on doing it?

When I joined TMP in 2013, the behaviours that drive the workplace looked very different than they do today. Physically, it was a huge space, spread over four floors on Tottenham Court Road. Its ‘commercial’ drivers equated to lots of hours, a culture on the serious side, and an expectation of punctuality and presence in the office.

Just five years later, most of my colleagues work flexibly, and that’s allowed us to shrink to just a single floor, with a rotating cast of people from day-to-day on hot desks. It’s buzzy yet relaxed, with a variety of collaboration spaces. People come and go, and we rate each other on our outcomes rather than our facetime.

It works for everyone. The workforce is happy to be trusted and carry out their jobs in a way that fits what they need to deliver as whole people – at work and at home.

The client service leads are happy that their people are out meeting clients and getting into their businesses, instead of taking up desk space and drinking all our coffee.

And the CFO and the rest of the leadership can certainly see the benefit of reducing expensive real estate costs, in a way that is win-win for everybody else concerned: by being flexible.

Not just cost saving or beneficial to clients, this can also attract top talent. A few years back, we had a talented candidate decline an offer from us, because at the time we were less enlightened and required a Monday to Friday, 9-5.30 commitment. As he had a choice where he worked, he chose a firm more willing to trust people to produce results.
Lesson learned, and luckily we’ve changed.

Flexibility also brings inclusion benefits. Forcing everyone to conform to establishment working structures will get you establishment people. A bit of flexibility might open up your business to candidates who think differently and construct their lives in a way that doesn’t follow the average.

Attracting cognitive diversity to your workforce means being open-minded about ways of working.

Being more flexible about where, when and how we work won’t solve our season ticket problems today. But as more businesses learn to focus more on outcomes than processes, we will see benefits to inclusion, less wasted time, and more people who are happy at work.

Heather DeLand is executive creative director of TMP Worldwide

This article was originally published in Recruiter Magazine and on Recruiter.co.uk

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High Profile Returners Professional Mums Work Journeys

A Tale Of Two…

Part time working professional

Once upon a time, I was a full time working professional. As company accountant, I loved my job. I loved the business I worked for. My job really did define who I was. Whenever I met new people, conversation would always have the same starting point. “What’s your name?” and “what do you do for a living?” were always the openers.

Then my life changed about a bit. I had dependants – young and old. I was needed, me personally. This couldn’t be delegated or outsourced to anyone else. Perhaps it wasn’t that it couldn’t be, perhaps it was more that it wouldn’t be. Either way, I could no longer do it all.
And so I became a part time working professional.

Then began the search, the CV updating, the networking, the marketing of myself. It soon became very clear that there are really not many part time, senior, challenging, exciting jobs. In the finance world, I could easily find part time work in very junior positions. I would not be using my years of experience and skills, I would not be stretched, I would likely be very bored.

So why was it so hard? Shouldn’t I by treated the same as a full time worker? Shouldn’t I be judged on my CV, my skills and experience regardless? Shouldn’t I be treated in the manner with which I had been treated previously, I was after all the same person?

I could answer these questions myself quite easily – the answer was a resounding NO.

I’m not the same person. It’s that simple. I used to be able to put in 60 hour weeks quite easily. I used to be the dependable one that would always be there in a crisis. I’d always be the one to work early mornings and late nights when it was needed. I cannot do that now.
So in some ways, I’m not as good as I once was. That’s the harsh reality.

But in so many other ways – I am better.

I manage my time better. I might not be in the office full time, but trust me, I have a LOT on my to do list. Some of it work related, some of it not. But nonetheless, I get a lot done in my week. Being in the office part time puts an extra focus on getting things done. More gets done ‘today’ because I can’t guarantee having the time to dedicate to it tomorrow. I am better than I once was.

I can multi task better than I ever thought possible. Juggling a job and a family is pretty commonplace. There are many people out there who do it. But it will never appear on a CV as a skill. I can switch so quickly to the most urgent crisis (whether it’s a financing proposal or a desperate need to provide something for the school cake sale!) and I’ll switch back the second I can. I am better than I once was.

I’m a much more compassionate person these days, caring for a family does that to you! I have more empathy for others than I once had. I don’t think I realised how useful a skill this would be in the workplace. I am better than I once was.

I always said that I loved my job – I always believed that. But now that I do other stuff in between, I really love my job. Those few days of absence makes it all the better to get back to. That extra bit of happiness makes me extra productive. I am better than I once was.

I’m lucky to have the job I have. As I ‘ve said, those exciting, challenging, skills enhancing jobs are few and far between in the part time arena.

I know I’m incredibly fortunate, I know I work for an amazing business with an amazing team of people. I’m grateful and that gives me the motivation to go the extra mile. I am better than I once was.

So in some ways, I’m not what an employer wants – I’m not there 5 days a week. But I’m available 5 days a week (or 6 or 7). Today’s technology makes it even easier to be away from the office. Telephone calls and emails still happen on non-working days as sometimes, you just want to resolve something. Being part time doesn’t have to stop that.

I’m still a professional, I still work hard, I still develop my skills and learn new ones. I still love my job and care about the business I work for. I’m still flexible, I switch my working days here and there, I accommodate meetings to ease others’ diaries. I just cannot be flexible enough to give all my time.

I accept that some businesses will only want employees who are in the office every day – always there, on call for any emergency. But I hope there are still plenty of other businesses who realise that us part time workers can still add value.

Being part time is different. Not necessarily better, not necessarily worse – just different.

Sarah Hawthorne ACMA
Financial Controller – Wagstaff Recruitment
Mom to Alice aged 6
Daughter to “Mum and Boss” aged 76
Wife to Simon aged 49 ¾

From the other side of the fence

Wagstaff Recruitment started as a bedroom business. As the owner I drove business through sales and cajoled my husband to do my monthly management accounts on a weekend. Hubby was great, he is an experienced Finance Director, but I became spoilt with his extensive knowledge and skills.

As the company grew, I took on offices and developed a team I knew I needed my own Finance Manager and here lay the problem. Due to hubby’s skill, my expectation of what a Finance Manager could do was unachievable on a part time basis, or so I was told (by external applicants). I wanted someone who could be part of our leadership team. Someone who had great management accounts skills. Someone who was confident to upwardly manage and challenge me. Basically I wanted a high level Finance Manager on a part time basis for an SME and they did not exist. Well they do!!

Then, through a fellow finance recruiter, I was introduced to Sarah! I gained an experienced, skilled professional who has the talent to utilise her skills. Sarah manages her time so well, delegating to our admin support team where needed and delivering a valuable, high quality finance service. I get great finance and management support and it is on a part time basis. The truth is hiring this talent is achievable it just may not be in the convectional way you expect. (I also don’t feel Sarah is part time as she is so flexible and there for me if I really do need her).

I would applaud any business to really consider part-time experienced workers. Finance, Marketing, Engineering, the list can go on! The experience and skill they bring, in my experience, is certainly added value.

Ruth Forster
Founding Director – Wagstaff Recruitment
Mum to Lexi (Our dog! No little people!)