Increasingly in the past few months, there has been a lot of rumour about the roles of working mothers (as in paid work) and fathers: politicians, employers, society, doctors, families themselves, all have an opinion on the topic of women choosing (or wishing to have the freedom to choose) to work while raising a family, and possibly even progressing in their career while doing it.
Now, as a working mother I think I can speak for many of us when I say that managing family and work is a daily difficult balancing act. It is just challenging to squeeze your working day down to the nursery/nanny/schoolhours, to maximize every hour, to have endless to do lists for work, home and everything in between and last but not least, to make everyone happy, including yourself. Of course there are practical things you can do to help you through the week, housekeepers and the likes do help but at the end of the day no one can replace any of your roles as parent, spouse and professional.
On the work front, often the above challenges are matched with employers who have very little understanding of the well being as a whole of the individual and who have yet to understand that for all employees of all ranks there is no one-fits-all format for their personal success, development and for their productivity. A happy individual, who also thanks to his/her employer is able to achieve a good work-life balance, will be way more committed and successful in his/her job than an employee who suffers from lack of empathy and little understanding or flexibility. A very good example is given by the latest flexible policies wanted by Richard Branson for his companies. And latest in time the announcement of Vodafone of last week.
On the society front, there are also things that could help. Longer nursery and school opening hours, being able to share parental leave with your partner, enabling fathers to work flexibly without stigma, subsidizing childcare costs, allowing for longer/better paid maternity leaves and removing the equation motherhood plus flexible working equals end of a woman`scareer. This has been the case for too long now and I believe that the time for women to speak up has come.
By promoting and implementing flexible working models , measuring performance not by the hours but by results and allowing families to make free choices when it comes to childcare and career, we can enable and retain in their jobs many talented women and men, who will be, in different ways, able to fulfil their potential and to have a more balanced life, this in turn will increase productivity and decrease sick leave absences at work and have a positive economical impact on our society.
What`s not to like about it?