It’s International Women’s Day, and while we pay homage to the amazing women who have come before us, who’ve paved the way in history to allow us to have the rights and privileges that we have now, I want to take a moment and talk about a type of woman that has all these rights, but is still operating in a world designed to disadvantage them.
The Working Mum
Women have fought for their right to earn a living, to be independent of their partner, and to pursue their interests and desires. And for a woman to succeed in the business world, we have to fight hard to be seen as capable, as strong and as reliable, especially in male dominated industries. We work hard, get paid less, but keep on going to get the career that we dreamed.
The downside: we have not been able to palm off the glamourous childbearing aspect of humanity to anyone else, so we are forced to conquer it all.
While this is biologically a trait that women have to bear, I’m left in awe at the complete lack of adaptability in our society to the demand that a woman should still be considered equal to a man in business, especially a woman with children.
Women are being forced to decide to either pursue their career and sacrifice time for their children and family, or give more time to their family at the detriment of their career. And while there will always need to be a sacrifice in some way, businesses need to understand the value that women, and mothers, can bring to the table, and change the archaic outlook that in order to be productive, you must be physically in-house, 9am – 5pm every day.
The Old Business Mindset
I’ve had potential employers reject me on the basis that I was a woman and would end up getting pregnant and leaving the business anyway. This mentality that a woman can negatively affect a business due to the fact she has ovaries is ludicrous. This, alongside unconscious bias, is why we are struggling with the succession and progression of women in businesses. It’s why we have a gender disparity.
While it’s great to see organisations have made great progress in broadening their recruitment processes to become more inclusive of females, and there are part time roles out there available for working parents; unpaid parental leave (and unpaid superannuation during that time), the right to deny flexible work arrangements based on “reasonable business grounds” and the ability to deny parental leave within the first twelve months of employment, are all boundaries women still face in their struggle to climb the corporate ladder and nurture a growing family.
Is The Work-Life Balance A Myth?
This morning, I got two children fed, dressed, bags packed and sent off to school, all while being pregnant. I broke up fights, introduced creative solutions to obscene problems, negotiated deals that wouldput Samuel L Jackson to shame, I did the shopping (successfully) with a sick toddler, cleaned a house and made dinner worthy of at least 2 Michelin hats all on 5 hours sleep max. I did all of these things in between work. Yes, I also worked that day.
This is the life of a working mother. Now the only reason I was able to do all of this successfully was because my CEO Katriina Tahka is a mother herself. She understands and values the work-life integration that is needed not only to have a successful business, but to have a happy and motivated employee. As a successful businesswoman who manages work and family demands daily, she values the output we can produce when we are able to be consciously present in each moment – even if that means working from home during the hours between caring for our children. This is the mentality that A Human Agency believes in instilling for all employees.
A Human Agency believes in creative solutions for modern problems. We partner with organisations to understand their challenges in implementing flexible work practice and support them to achieve an inclusive, high performing organisation by designing roles in a way that addresses business and individual needs.
Let's Hear It For The Boys!
If we really want to make an indelible change in the business world and be more accommodating for women, we need to take a hard look at how we treat men vs how we treat women. Men aren’t given as much leeway when it comes to taking time off and requesting flexible working arrangements to accommodate kids and family, because once again, the business state of mind has stalled in an archaic framework that assumes family responsibilities will be taken care of by the woman. Yes, women have all the physical responsibilities to create a child, but men are responsible too, and the modern man wants to be involved.
If we really want to achieve true equality, we need to be able to change tired business structures and systems to be inclusive of all parents and their needs.
International Women’s Day should be more than a day of reflection and corporate brunches, it should be a time when we sit down a make a genuine plan about how to make a change and put equality in action! We realise that each business is structured differently, and may have diverse needs when it comes to catering for women in the workforce. A Human Agency will partner with you to see your goals comes to life. We are only a phone call away.
And mums, thank you for the inspiring work you do, with your children and in your business.