Working 9-5 – it’s no way to make a livin’

28 Mar

I’m no Guido Fawkes, raging political commentator or even Dolly Parton (sadly) but it seems to me we really need to radically rethink the way both women and men work for the next generation.

Clegg’s latest suggested working mother benefit is tinkering around the edges pure and simple, with a grand here and a grand there.  It is just a distraction from the main event. We will never solve the problem of women returning to work after children unless the entire working culture is changed.

Clegg’s stab at it has enraged stay at home mothers as their hard work seems to’ve been ignored, while many working/career mothers would probably give the money up in a flash to have working life that was more sympathetic with their home life or more flexible hours, without damaging their career prospects.

The male dominated workplace –and its 9-5 culture – is the culprit and nothing else really matters before this issue is addressed. And it needs to be radically rethought. In this age of instant messaging, working from home, internet, skype etc, it cannot be beyond the wit of man (or women) for employers to embrace part time work properly once and for all. So that means accepting that many women – who are highly skilled in all sorts of areas – can do a serious job, but within the hours of 9.30am t0 3pm.

Let me take a step back. We all know that many women fall off the career cliff and there’s a dearth of estrogen at senior management and board levels. This is due in a large part to the child-rearing issue. Many women I know were heading up the ladder and doing very well, keeping up with men and doing better than men in many cases, before the babies arrived.

But now, five years later with our toddlers, pre-schoolers, and reception kids in tow, many of these ladies have gone back in some way shape or form to their former employers or to new jobs but in a smaller, more junior role – doing the grunt work and picking up the other projects that no one else wants to do, because at it’s safe, it’s something and it’s better than nothing.

But what a waste of a great talent pool. We are missing out on these excellent minds which have been well educated, learned from experience in the workplace, learned about life from becoming a mother – plus have often become much better multi-taskers and much better people managers in the process too.

If forward thinking employers could only look at women returning to work as assets and allow them to work around their family but in jobs that are at use their level of expertise– I would be very surprised if many were let down. It’s a bank of talent that’s waiting to be tapped and the first employers to do so will surely reap huge rewards.

We are not all Sheryl Sandeburgs. Many of us, myself included, just want interesting work that makes the most of all our skills, experience and knowledge, which is fairly paid, and that we can do while the children are at school.

It can’t be right that so many women to have to take huge backwards steps and accept lesser roles in order to try and achieve some semblance of work-life balance.

 

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2 Responses to “Working 9-5 – it’s no way to make a livin’”

  1. Greysleeves March 29, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

    Here here. Perhaps it’s an opportunity for women at the top to lead by example, work flexibly themselves and shout about it. Women-centric companies could take the lead, (such as charities), and show the world how its done. Don’t they say charity begins at home? It’s not rocket science. There really can’t be any sound reason why we shouldn’t choose our hours, as long as we get the job done to the best of our ability. Surely men would prefer to do this too? Many fathers want to spend more time with their children during formative years. Even age could dictate our preferred working hours.

  2. rosemary goldsmith April 3, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    OK – so have you thought about holidays Emily? If mothers work from 9.30am to 3pm there has to be before and after school clubs with very reasonable charges unless the mother lives very near the school. Then there has to be similar holiday clubs to cover that time.

    Also if the mother is goes back to a really responsible job, can all her meetings be scheduled within those hours? What if she has to travel for her work, how does child care work then; it is such an expensive item.

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