I write this post today to talk about workplace flexibility. To celebrate all the companies making positive change for women with children. For the companies who value us the same way they did before we had to juggle family-life with work-life. For the companies making our lives more fulfilled, more energetic and more rounded. For the companies who don’t make us choose in order to maintain the job we love. For the companies who understand that having a child doesn’t change your ability to do your job, just changes the outlook on time we spend in the office.
Mothers in corporate everywhere have had to take a backseat in their careers, stand down, stand aside or spend very little time at home and sacrifice their family in order to maintain the income and career path they chose before becoming a mother. I see it happen all the time and I have felt the push/pull myself and fought hard against it.
That is what days like today are about. Not just a token pat on the back for women, or a social media post to make businesses look like they care. It’s about real tangible change. Change for the betterment of all women in all walks of life and in all areas of the workplace.
A study in the US in 2019 revealed 31% of women who took a break in their career after having kids wanted to keep working, but reported that their job was too inflexible to remain in the workforce. 42% percent said it was extremely difficult to restart their career after taking a break. A 2019 study here in Australia shows that 62% of Australia’s workers struggle in maintaining both their physical and psychological health when failing to balance work and family pressures.
Getting it right.
To that end I wanted to highlight my current employers who I believe are leading the way in this area and setting a standard for the media industry. The company I work for as Group Head of Marketing, is owned by father and son, Mark and Michael Fishwick. Their approach to their business is family first. Not as a throw-away motto, but it is engrained in everything they do. The ability for me to work flexibly and not sacrifice any part of my career, allowing me time with my son has changed my life. It has given me more passion for the life I live and the work I do.
For me, the biggest challenge I faced as a single mother was the guilt I felt having him spend so much time in care (before and after school). Something I couldn’t change in my old workplace and something that weighed on me heavily, both emotionally and mentally. The move to a company (lead by men!) who offered me a work-life balance dictated by me has removed that stress-point in my life. I am there each day for my son when he finishes school and that means everything. It makes me a better mother, a better employee and a happier person.
Overall, different things carry more weight for each of us in regards to importance in our lives. The corporate world needs to adapt to look at each employee as an individual, not just a bum on a seat. That’s men and women. The sooner it does that, the sooner there will be the genuine work-place-happiness that so many companies talk up, but fall short on. I hope International Women’s Day brings out more of those companies and for those getting it right, a HUGE well done.
Having a conversation.
Change starts with a conversation. Take the time to ask yourself what your ideal day would look like. A day that would suit you and your employer better. If your employer is an open-minded one, they will hear you out. The change has to start with us. Start the ball rolling for the women who are coming in after us. Leave a legacy of change. That is what IWD stands for.