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Women for Women : Motherhood in the 21st century workplace

by on January 30, 2018 in Businesswoman, Latest News, Lead Article, Small Business, Social Media, Special Issue, Startups

Women for Women : Motherhood in the 21st century workplace

Sandra Wilkin, Creative Services Manager at WONDER London

The conversation around working mothers has always been controversial.

While there are many different ways that businesses perceive mothers in the workplace, and attitudes are undeniably changing for the better, all too often their voices are still not being heard.

There remains both men and women responsible for setting up offices and hiring for global corporations who still consider employing working mothers as being detrimental to their business. The ongoing stigma around this needs to change.

This thinking has also impacted women’s behaviour when they commence their job search as mothers. According to a recent recruitment consultancy’s survey, two thirds of working mothers who are looking for a job are willing to consider taking on jobs that don’t require academic qualifications or professional experience, but provide the flexibility they desire.

Bartering their existing professional capabilities, achievements and ambitions for a couple of hours’ flexibility seems like it shouldn’t even be a contemplation, never mind a chillingly high statistic. The research also points out that only 7 per cent of jobs within the marketing and communications sector are advertised with any kind of flexibility. This raises more pressing questions that need to be addressed.

Why do so many workplaces feel threatened by motherhood?

Working mothers aren’t a risk, they work harder than anyone. They are highly capable of tackling numerous responsibilities and spinning many different plates between their home and work life. Although sometimes surprising to themselves, and perhaps to employers, working mums have never worked so hard in their life.

Given that, how is it that they are often viewed as being more of a risk than a colleague who may decide at any moment it’s time for a change, or another who wants to pack up and go travelling?

Mothers often thrive off the buzz of being in the office hubbub, vowing to never take it for granted that they can exist as both a professional and a mother. They fit a 12-hour day into eight hours, thrive on lack of sleep and adrenaline, looking amused at the rest of the office as their co-workers try to keep up. Most of their planning is done on the train after dropping the children off at nursery or school, before even coming onto the platform. Working mothers are power houses, in every sense of the word.

The call for transformation is even more obvious through the increase of blogs and Instagram posts relating to the professional mum, appearing in daily social media feeds. However, most of this content is only coming from women – and generally those who have gone freelance or are self-employed.

Women have had to carve another way because the old way simply doesn’t fit with their parenting arrangements, or so their employers made them believe. But who are their followers? Is this message once again just reaching other mums? Let’s for a moment pause and think about what working women are doing right now and what businesses are doing to support these mothers. There is a positive message out there and it’s important for all firms and employers to hear it.

Modern workplaces for all mothers

At WONDER London, putting both our team and our culture at the heart of what we do is central to our prosperity. Parents, mums and dads alike are respected for what they bring to the business and our working environment.

There is no judgement on whether they must work a four-day week, one day from home, or even dash off to do the nursery run. Everyone brings to the agency a unique talent for which they were hired. It’s imperative that everyone has each other’s backs when the going gets tough; be it a hangover from the night before, a tough week on site or a sleepless night with a toddler.

Moreover, in the events industry in which we work it is particularly common for clients to prioritise only working with people they like on a personal level, so isn’t this the most important factor when considering what a workplace should look like and who should be in it?

Over time, it’s essential to continue encouraging the events and marketing industry in particular to start thinking differently about mothers. Hopefully wider moves towards flexible working practices will naturally help to support this change. Valuing talent and focusing on employees is also key. After all, people are the backbone to agencies and their culture.

So many of those people are women, so let’s not deprive them from continuing the careers they have fought so hard for, and punish them for wanting to procreate. Instead, let’s get behind them and drive our work forces to achieve the very best they can.

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