Women are good for business. It’s that simple. Companies with higher female board representation perform better financially (HR Magazine, 2016) thus, employing more women increases the growth of global economies (IMF, 2016). Big stuff!
Yet, despite these startlingly clear benefits, women at all levels – mothers in particular – are routinely discriminated against, inadequately supported, and/or made to feel uncomfortable at work. In fact, Government research last year showed that a massive three quarters of mothers in the UK have had a negative or possibly discriminatory experience in the workplace.
We know from experience that it can be bloody hard as a mother to gain the workplace confidence you once had pre-baby, and to “sell” yourself, your new transferrable skills (trust us, you have these!) and potential to employers after timeout. So…
In honour of International Women’s Day – which calls for greater gender equality in the workplace – we asked our readers what they see as the greatest attributes of mothers that make them Wonder Woman-type kickass assets in the world of work. This is what they said:
Unflappable – yes, it’s true, mamas deal with all sorts of mad stuff, things that could make even the calmest person flap (poo trodden into the bedroom carpet, impenetrable Sudocrem all over the furniture (anyone tried to get this off? It’s nigh on impossible!), we could go on), yet we somehow just suck it up and get on with it. And dealing with such challenges also makes us resourceful. These qualities should not be underplayed or glossed over.
Perspective – “We know little people are the best thing ever (except when they’re not)”, said Kath, mum of three, and this helps us to sift the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Does this email really need to be sent at 10pm tonight or can it wait until tomorrow? Will it spell disaster if it’s not sent? Of course not, it can wait. Mums bring some perspective to what’s important and what’s not.
Efficient – 41% of women work part-time, and many mums we speak to report having to do a full-time job within these hours (sound familiar?). Teamed with immovable commitments outside of work, mothers are remarkably efficient and will use their time at work to maximum effect, having a considerable impact on productivity levels. This is of huge value to employers, as it is to mums wanting to run their own business and slotting work into nap times and after bedtime (something our reader Laura, an entrepreneur and mum to one, relies on to run her social media business successfully).
Highly-motivated – “Mums have a really big reason to strive for success. They are providing for their families and want to do their best for them. And to lead by example,” said one of our readers Lucy, mother and businesswoman. We wholeheartedly agree.
Flexible – yes, it is a fact that poorly child = time off work. However, in Lauren’s experience mothers have gone out of their way to undertake important work and calls from home. This isn’t necessarily an approach to be advocated (children’s health is the priority) but in a fast-moving and demanding world of work, mothers prove they are prepared to go above and beyond to get the work done.
Multitasking and organised – it’s an old adage but, seriously, not everyone can multitask to such great effect as mothers can. The women (and we know there are dads out there, too, doing this great work!) who are used to “cooking dinner, singing ‘Wheels on the bus’, wiping someone’s nose and refereeing siblings at home” (thanks to our reader, Kath, for that impressive multi-tasking combo). It links to the efficiency above, but it goes beyond that to deliver not only best use of time in the workplace but also a skill that can be learnt by others coming into contact with Masters of Multitasking.
Empathetic – this was an interesting suggestion, and one I think could be overlooked by both women and employers alike. Knowing what it’s like to be a worker before having children, and after, we can be more empathetic to our fellow workers experiencing challenges. Extremely useful for employees at all levels, not just those in managerial positions.
Perform and adapt, no matter what – three hours’ sleep or less? We become the experts at functioning on little or no sleep. Sleep deprivation is one of the hardest states to adjust to (see our recent post on the sheer torture of it here). Coping with it – as mothers do – proves we can adapt in challenging situations. In current times of change, adaptable staff are vital.
There are so many more attributes we haven’t been able to cover here, but website Working Mums has a wealth of advice on how to get back into the workplace, bring your confidence up and promote yourself to employers. As well as advice on setting up your own business, something an increasing number of mothers are choosing to do.
So, instead of writing “Career break to have children” on your CV, why not add “Time spent building on and honing transferrable skills in…..”. Be confident and on the front foot, and show employers what us mothers are made of.
Whichever way you look at it, mothers bring so so much to the workplace and we hope we have helped you to see just some of these attributes, and maybe help with how you frame your invaluable skills to employers. Go working mamas!
Lauren, The Mother Side xx
P.s. Not every mama chooses to or has to work, and it’s important that this choice is recognised. There are benefits (and challenges!) to being a stay-at-home-mum and we will explore these in an article in the near future.