Women have a pretty tough time when they decide to return to work after having children.
I know it can be dangerous to make sweeping statements like that, but I don’t think it is in any way a revelation! First there is the hard and emotional wrangle that sees women seemingly have to make a choice between career and family; then there is the struggle finding a role that befits their experience, but that gives them the flexibility to balance their desire to be both “professional” and “mother”.
I know that this is not just an issue for women – it is for parents and carers, regardless of gender. But we need to be honest and say that the vast majority of people affected are women. And it is generally women, certainly in the UK and Ireland, that choose to put their professional careers on hold to start families. I see this every day as a husband, father, friend, colleague and manager.
Here’s the problem statement:
As a society we are not doing enough to recognise that there is a sacrifice made, and we certainly are not doing enough to reward and support women returning to work.
Now, I believe that there is a huge opportunity here. An opportunity for us, as a society, to do better; and an opportunity for businesses to attract incredibly experienced and motivated talent.
The numbers tell us that we are having children later, meaning that professional women returning to work have a broader breadth and depth of experience – not to mention the skills one develops rearing children; another thing often overlooked.
In my field of customer experience (user experience, research, usability, design etc.) there are recruitment challenges. There are more roles than experienced people, and there is tough competition attracting the right talent.
Now, I believe that by being overtly open about wanting the role to be filled by a couple of people job sharing/working part time, businesses can attract great talent. All that has to happen is a minor shift in attitude! It is not hard to schedule work around two high performing people – just plan a day when both are in the office. We can be a little bit smarter, think a little more laterally and provide accountabilities that work effectively around a shorter week.
I believe this small shift will mean businesses attract talent that is experienced, motivated, happier (better work—life balance), and has skills beyond their craft.
So, here’s my pitch: I’ve got UX roles and front end developer roles that I would absolutely love to fill with people job sharing. If you are interested, drop me a line! You don’t need to find another person to job share with, that’s my responsibility.
By the way, I’m just assuming that supporting more flexible working hours and arrangements, across the board, is a given – it’s 2015 and technology allows us to communicate faster than we can think!
These views are entirely my own, and in no way reflect the views of my employers past and present. However, these views do inform how I recruit for my teams, which is within my gift, and I am entirely committed to actively recruiting job sharing and part time working. As you can, hopefully, tell, it’s something I believe in and something I’m doing.
Image, via Flickr, courtesy of Martha de Jong-Lantink.