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Would improving men’s rights help close the gender pay gap?

Written by Fiona Halkyard @ Chatter Communications

I don’t really think of myself as much of a feminist. I don’t get offended if a man holds a door open for me or calls me “love” (to be fair living in Yorkshire, it’s a pre-requisite and even men get called love, so score one for equality!). But I am a woman who’s pretty dedicated to her career. I’m a working mum. And, most importantly, I have three daughters who are (in my completely neutral opinion) amazing human beings who will go on to be brilliant adults. And for them, and their generation, I’d like to see true gender equality finally become a real thing.

And so there are certain “female” issues that really piss me off. And the current bee in my bonnet is the gender pay gap (which leaves British women earning an average of 17.4% less than men in similar full-time jobs and places us 15th out of 22 countries*). Or rather the gender bias that continues to dog our society and prevent women from achieving the same career success as their male counterparts.

My experiences

Through my twenties my career progressed quite successfully and initially, being female didn’t really factor. But once I moved into a management role I started to become aware of nuanced differences between the way I was treated compared to men of a similar age.

There was a “boys club” of up and coming ad execs who got invited to golf/beers/important client dinners with the MD and Chairman and suddenly progressed their careers far quicker than me and my female colleagues. The most memorable moment that made me stop and pay attention that perhaps I wasn’t being judged purely on my ability, was the conversation I had with the company Chairman when being considered for a promotion and he “joked” that he was only considering me because he “trusted” that I wasn’t just going to “run off and have babies anytime soon”. I was 27, engaged, and whilst not immediately planning a family, I knew it probably wasn’t too far off in my future. Yet I had to pretend that “no, no I’m a dedicated career woman, none of this baby nonsense for me” in order to pass his “test”.

I wonder if any man has ever felt that pressure? They certainly didn’t in that particular business where men could marry and become Dads without a single raised eyebrow from the powers that be. To be aware that even the potential of a marriage/baby that may not happen for a decade or more (or ever) could be a factor you have to answer to because you are “a woman of a certain age” is frustrating and archaic. And while most employers are far too savvy/legally compliant to ask the question that my old boss did, we all know that it is often consciously or unconsciously a factor when hiring or promoting a young woman.

And to some extent I get it. Women do often have babies in their late twenties, thirties, forties. And then want reduced/flexible hours. And that costs a business, especially a small one, a lot of money that perhaps doesn’t make up for the value of the employee in their child free years. But women do not choose to be born female. So why should they have to choose career or parenthood? Men don’t. Does that make men better at their jobs? Does it make them lesser parents? In my opinion the answer is no.

The here and now

The UK has made fabulous strides over the past 11 years, since I became a mum, to make it a little bit easier to juggle motherhood and working life. Maternity pay/leave have been extended and it’s become the norm to take a year or more off and still return to a well paid role. Flexible working policies have also become fairly common place, allowing women to balance the demands of work and parenting. Which is all brilliant. But still comes with restrictions. Breakfast meetings, after work networking, long days of travel, are all pretty hard to work around most childcare provisions. And whilst colleagues can be supportive, you can still feel that you’re more “difficult” to work with than a child-free colleague. And that affects confidence, your feelings of job security, it can put you off applying for a promotion or new role as you don’t want to upset the status quo.

And so women tread water while their kids are young and their male counterparts progress. And by the time you’re able to be “all in” at work, you’ve reached a glass ceiling and are reporting into men with 10 years less experience than you have. And so the gender pay gap persists.

So what’s the answer? What can we do? Even more benefits and support for women? Maybe. But to change the social stigma, how about we focus on men?

Again the UK has made some excellent progress in sharing the load of parental responsibility in the work place with paid paternity leave and shared parental leave and the opportunity for anyone to apply for flexible working. But it’s still not the norm. Paid paternity leave is still only funded by the government for 2 weeks. Our parenting leave is only the 11th most equal out of 21 countries* with shared parental leave a minefield to organise and flexible or part time working is still something that feels more aimed at women than men (men make up only 25.8% of the part-time workforce, leaving the UK 16th out of 21 countries measured *). Dads who take extended time off to be with their new baby tend to face social stigma, or at least a few raised eyebrows. And this means that on average, British men spend 24 minutes caring for children, for every hour done by women, according to the Fatherhood Institute’s Fairness In Families Index (FIFI).

People also presume that the woman will be the one to take a career break as the man is earning more (a comment even my own husband made, completely forgetting that when we started a family we were on equal salaries, as many couples are). And on the flip side, women whose partners take more time off than them are seen as “lesser” mums, putting their career before their kids. And because of all of this, men in their late twenties and early thirties are still not associated with the “pregnancy risk” that may entail a career break or reducing their hours at some point, even if married or with long term partners.

But if we could encourage more men to take up the opportunity to be at home with their kids, work flexibly and take on more of the parental juggle – without being judged for it. If we bring our kids up to see that both mum and dad can be their carer and have a career maybe things might finally be come more equal.

And if a parental career break (or indeed a mid-life career break for any purpose) becomes society’s standard for both men and women, then the glass ceiling might finally shatter. Maybe not for me and my peers (if we’re lucky we’ll be retired by then!). But if my daughters can dream, believe and achieve with no limits, then that would be a wonderful thing.

*stats taken from the Fatherhood Institute’s Fairness In Families Index 2016

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

7 Women Returners. Diversity

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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JUST GO FOR IT!

Deloitte.co.uk Return To Work

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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Find yourself

Apart from the weight gain, hair loss, loss of inhibition and sudden fascination with bowel movements, one of the most common side effects of having a baby is a loss of confidence.

And we’re not just talking about in your abilities as a mother (let’s face it, we’re all winging it), but in doing the job you’d been doing for years before that.

You’ve gained a child, a family, a new purpose in life – but have you lost you?

So many women report that they’re no longer seen as a person in their own right, merely a mother. Combine this with the worrying number of mums who return to work when they don’t want to, or are prevented from working by redundancy or prohibitive childcare costs, and it’s clear that we’re facing a parenthood confidence crisis.

Kim Cutler, of MummyJobs coaching partner Storm McQueen, became a life coach after struggling to balance her stressful City career with looking after her two young children.

She says: “I had my first baby in 2014 and returned to work after a very short maternity leave of four months. What played heavily on my mind was the amount of hours I had worked pre-motherhood.

“I began to read The Success Principles by Jack Canfield, and, from this, I took action and got the support of a life coach. After just a two-hour phone call, I had been completely taken out of my comfort zone of allowing fear to control my life.
“Much to my own shock, I immediately called my boss and said I wanted to leave!”

The difficulty of balancing the professional and the personal is a common theme among Kim’s clients.
She says: “The common challenges I see with my clients when they prepare to return to work are loss of confidence, loss of identity and worries about flexibility.

“Pre-children, the majority were able to give full focus and time to their work, post-children, they can’t possibly see how this will work. For example, if a meeting runs over, pre-kids you would just stay until it’s finished; post children, you have to collect them from nursery, so you have to leave.”

So how can a life coach help? While their job isn’t to offer advice as such, a coach will encourage you to question yourself and establish what you want out of life.

Having a clear plan and the confidence to ask for it is often the key to making a flexible working request achievable – present your employer with a solution, not a problem.

Kim says the question to ask is: “What does your ideal week look like?” Once this is defined, how does this fit around the roles and tasks? What can you propose that works for you and employer?”

Like all of us here at MummyJobs, Kim’s vision of the future is for a fully flexible working environment, where parents are valued for what they bring to the workplace, rather than judged for what they take.

“I hope that more and more organisations realise the huge loss of talent through not offering flexibility in the workplace.

“I would also love to see coaching programmes more widely used in support of returners, this has such a significant impact on employee output and wellbeing.”

If you feel you could benefit from a confidence boost, whether in your personal or professional life, check out our partners here.

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Aviva : A return to work special…

Hi, my name is Gemma and I recently returned back to work from maternity leave.

My partner and I decided to take advantage of the shared maternity/ paternity scheme that Aviva offered last year. I took the first 6 months off, whilst then my husband took the following 4 months off on paternity leave to be with our daughter.

It was a great opportunity as we both got the chance to spend quality time with her as we knew we would never get this time back!

When I came back to work I mentioned that I wanted some flexibility with the hours I worked, as I wanted to spend at least one day every fortnight being actively present in the development of my daughter.

Aviva were very supportive of this request and with the support of my team and manager we made this happen.

I consider that having my husband off whilst I came back to work, took a considerable amount of worry and stress away from me, as I was able to fully focus on my job and get used to work life again.

Since the announcement last November from Aviva on the increase of time for the shared maternity/ paternity policy agreement, it has made me think how else could Aviva support staff in the transition back to work, as we should be able to offer so much more than just an amended policy.

I have since started a working group with the coaching and people function to try and set up a maternity/ paternity transition coaching service for staff going off and coming back to the workplace. Offering support and guidance back into the world of work.

This not allows us to support our people from a policy perspective but from a human/ family perspective too. The aim of the coaching program is to help employees handle the practical and emotional aspects of a parent transition, regardless if this is your first, second or third child in a way it also enables the parent to develop in their careers post maternity or paternity.

You can find out more about our roles and benefits by clicking HERE

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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!)

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Meet Chris: A working Dad at Hastings Direct

My family and I relocated to the south coast four years ago and I was looking for a new career away from retail. I was originally attracted to join Hastings Direct because I knew that insurance was a growing industry and the company had a range of opportunities for colleagues to develop. Since then, I have seen Hastings Direct expand to further offices including a city centre office in Leicester.

In September 2016 I moved from full time to part time shifts to offer my family extra childcare support. I have progressed to a Digital Customer Representative and when I work evenings I’m a coach for new colleagues in Academy. Working part time at Hastings Direct has allowed me and my wife to have our own careers. The flexibility in my work enables me to arrange a shift plan that suits my home life and gives me a great work life balance. It allows my wife and I to share the responsibilities of childcare while bringing money into the household and giving us quality family time at the weekends.

My wife and I both enjoy working and appreciate the time we have to socialise with other adults. I love the variety of work and the diversity of people I work with at Hastings Direct. I enjoy working in our Head Office because the majority of departments are here in Bexhill – it’s very easy to find a colleague from another area of the business to help with a query. Everybody in the company is keen to help and I love that we’re all moving in the same direction.

Hastings Direct has been very supportive since day one, particularly my Team Leader who is invested and knows my motivations inside and outside of the company. Hastings Direct cares about its colleagues and takes notice in what is happening in our lives.

If you like what you have heard and would be interested in finding our more, please visit Hastings Direct Careers.

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Mums Make More of Themselves at Screwfix

Being a mother comes first and there may finally be one employer who understands that. Here, Amy tells us about making real friends, working the hours she wants and actually having a life with her son – who, due to his condition, needs a little extra love.

How does Screwfix fit around your home life?

Perfectly. The contact centre is 24-7, so you can choose hours that suit you. I do 5pm ‘til 9pm, four nights a week, which is really good because of my 16 month-old son. My partner picks him up from Mum’s at half five, so I don’t have to pay for childcare. Obviously I’m not doing weekends, which is nice. And they even give you the option to reduce (or increase!) your hours. They’re really good about that and I really feel like they care. My manager is really supportive. My son was born with a condition, so he’s been in and out of hospitals having operations for more than the year of his life. But thanks to this job, I can spend the day bonding with him guilt-free.

Do you enjoy the work?

Definitely. Obviously I take calls, which I really enjoy because you do get to know the customers. You end up having a laugh and helping them at the same time. Everyone who works here makes it a brilliant environment, too. It’s nice to be able to talk to so many different people – older and younger, people with kids and without kids. There’s no set seating plan, so each day I can sit next to my friends or learn about someone new. Plus, you do get a lot of praise here. Each week, we have a score which shows us how well we’ve done. Mine’s been been five out of five for the past few weeks, which I’m really proud of. Sometimes you get left really nice comments from customers as well, which makes you happy to do the job.

“When I first joined, I thought there would be loads of targets, but it’s very relaxed. You’re more genuine to the customers, which keeps them coming back.”

Do you need to know about tools and hardware?

No, they provide all the training. I don’t think it’s about customer service experience, either. I’ve done it as a manager in the past, but there are people who have come here straight out of school. They look at who’s positive, bubbly and friendly. From there, you spend two weeks with your trainer and they go through everything with you. And you decide when you go on the phones. I was on them the first night because I was just eager to learn. They love this because it’s a very rewarding company. They look after their staff and good work is definitely recognised right across the company. They’re determined to help you progress onto bigger and better things, but if you’re content with where you are, that’s fine too.

If you want to learn more about our roles at Screwfix, click HERE

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Meet Neha: A working Mum at Hastings Direct

MummyJobs Happy Mum

“Whilst on maternity leave following the birth of my first child I was made redundant by my previous employer. As you’d imagine, I was full of worry – I had to find a new job as well as find my way as a new mum. However, my worries were soon put at ease when I found that Hastings Direct were recruiting for a part time Team Leader – this was a great opportunity for me as I was able to use the skills I had developed via my NVQ Level 2 in Team Leading.

When I first joined Hastings Direct as a part time Team Leader the role helped me to achieve a perfect home/work life balance. During the day I spent time with my daughter and during the evening and weekends I was able to challenge myself at work to be the best Team Leader I could be. The best thing about working part time was the huge saving we made on childcare. On average my husband and I saved almost £600 a month because of the part time hours I worked at Hastings Direct, and because of this saving; we were able to have two family holidays a year. It also allowed both my husband and I to have one to one time with our child; which we feel is so important.

Having now completed Hastings Direct’s in-house Team Leader training, I feel I have been supported and further developed my career with the company. Since January 2017 I have progressed to a full time Academy Team Leader.
I now work fixed shifts across afternoons to evenings and weekends which allow me to still have a positive work life balance; enabling me to plan ahead and be flexible with my home life. I feel paying for childcare is similar to giving a salary away so I feel very lucky to not have to call on it and I’m able to save while working full time due to my shift pattern. When I work weekdays I spend every morning with our daughter and my husband is with her every evening. So, we’re still saving on childcare as well as spending our one to one time with our daughter. On the weekends we spend time as a family and when I do work a weekend I have a weekday off which allows me to have time to myself, which is also important!

I feel very fortunate to do a job I love while being able to have a great family life – a real ‘win win’ situation!”

If you like what you have heard and would be interested in finding our more, please visit Hastings Direct Careers.

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Internships, a viable path to work? Our latest mummy blogger found out the hard way!

I’m a 44-year-old busy mother of three. I have a Masters and a BA degree. I took an 8-year career break to bring up my children. In September 2017 my last child started school and I tried my best to return to employment.

In March 2017 I was called for interview in a graphic design company in Croydon. I was interviewed in a very plush office, with beautiful wooden office furniture and an impressive décor. The person who interviewed me told me that he was offering an internship for a ‘writer’. He agreed that it was “a bit of an insult” to offer me such a role (i assume he said this because of my age and past work experience) however we both agreed that I would learn from the digital marketing experience (so much has changed in the last 8 years!) and that he would profit from my former work experience and maturity. I was expected to work office hours (9am -5pm) Monday to Friday.

My initial impression of the office was good. There were at least 12 Apple macs and the office was wide and comfortable. This ‘appearance’ was later to be subject to ridicule when I observed that the professional looking office that I had been interviewed in on the floor above did not belong to the company I was working for. In addition, I soon noticed that the desks in our office were being advertised as “rentable desk space” on the company social media site!

On commencing my internship I was asked to rewrite the whole of the company website and proofread numerous important emails. A month into the ‘internship’ I began to get concerned that I had no contract. I was working very hard, my husband works abroad so things were particularly strained at home, especially from going from being a full-time mother to a full-time working mother.

After two months I was informed by my boss that my internship position as a ‘writer’ was to be changed to a ‘business developer’. Personal business cards were designed for me with my job title as, ‘Business Development Manager’. I went full steam ahead attending breakfast and evening networking meetings, entirely funded by myself. In one such networking meeting I met a human resource employee who commented how scandalous unpaid internships were! Imagine my situation, I was attending the Chamber of Commerce networking meetings and doing presentations whilst not having a contract, receiving pay slips or paying tax.

After asking my boss directly, at the end of the three months internship, if I was to be taken on eventually; would my role be paid by “commission only?” I was assured verbally that this would not be the case, thus implying I would get a salary.
My boss assured me, “We would love you to stay and grow with us” and proposed that I work another month and that he would pay for my travel and lunch. He said, “As you know it’s all about the sales and money that you are able to bring in for the business. At the end of that month we can sit down again and evaluate the sales you make.”

I was being urged by my friends to leave the company. However I had made business connections and could see potential leads. I decided to complete another month.

It was to my surprise then that my boss was ‘away on business’ for the entirety of this last fourth month and incredibly, at my boss’s request while out of the country, I was asked to create and write the company business plan for which took up considerable time and effort. This diverted me away from the Business Development role.

In spite of this I did manage to get a lead with a prominent company and organised a technical call between my boss( in Dubai) and the lead in the U.K. However, I didn’t feel comfortable to pursue the business development until my boss returned to the office as I didn’t have the technical skills to carry out the work. I feel sure, however, that I initiated contact with a company that will be bringing a continual income to the graphic design business (if the development work is satisfactory for them). I also had several other leads and felt confident that I would get business soon for the graphic design company.
An internship is a period of time during which someone works for a company in order to get experience of a particular type of work. This is certainly what we agreed at interview. That role is not the same as a paid employee who is expected (and motivated) and capable to perform 100% from the start. It appears my boss confused the two, expecting his “interns” to perform as “employees” without paying them.

Sales, in a B2B environment do not happen overnight, it takes time to cultivate relationships with potential clients. People buy from people & businesses they know, like & trust and this takes time.

At the end of my internship I was offered a base salary but ONLY if I were to reach an unrealistic monthly sales target. It seemed a no-brainer. I had already worked for four months for nothing and I wasn’t prepared, at this stage, to accept a commission-only payment structure.
The terms of employment that I was offered after my internship ended, meant that self-employment was not an option, as my boss was determining my hours of work, performance, etc. which means that I would be classified as a “worker”.

It is clear to me that the company I worked for did not have a proper business model to take forward without the use of unpaid workers, for there were three other interns working in the company at the same time as me. They were not even receiving expenses! I left the company asking myself how frequent are these type of unpaid internships being snapped up by honest, hardworking and educated people being led to believe that they may eventually be employed? I also marveled at the fact that my ‘’boss’ succeeded in having four graduates work standard office hours for three months without paying us a penny!

A disgruntled Intern/Mum.