For many mothers, the barriers preventing them from returning to work are significant and overwhelming.
Reports of workplace discrimination against mothers is at an almighty high, there are an increased number of women being made redundant whilst on maternity leave or in part-time employment and whilst some employers value flexibility and diversity, this is certainly not the norm.
To top this off, we are up against an employer’s preconceived ideas and attitudes around how we can contribute, along with value judgments and stigma attached to hiring us.
I’m here to argue that mums make fantastic employees and organisations that employ us, will ultimately win the war on talent and reap the benefits, some of which are listed below.
On average, in Australia we are having our first baby at the age of 29. At 29, we have enjoyed a working life and come equipped with a range of skills and abilities gained through our career to date and life experiences. Many of us are educated, and highly educated at that, so we’re qualified and experienced, and immediately ready to add value to a business, with so much to offer and contribute.
We will work hard and smartly. Our heads will be down, we’ll be motivated and focused and we will put in what is required to deliver and get the job done. Time at work is precious and will not be wasted on social media, an extra long lunch date or involving ourselves in office politics or gossip. We are masters at cramming as much as we humanly can into each working day, allowing us to leave work to get home to family or make the mad dash to childcare before it closes.
According to recent research carried out by EY (Ernst & Young Productivity Pulse) women in flexible roles are the most productive members of our workforce. Personally, I thought I was productive pre-children, but post-children, I am a force to be reckoned with.
There is no question mark over a mother’s ability to multitask. We are able to simultaneously juggle a number of balls in the air at one time, and we can juggle these without dropping one. We can manage and turn our attention to lots of things at different times, largely because at home we have to, or things will fall apart. Organisation, time-management and the ability to prioritise become second nature; all such valuable skills to transfer to the workplace.
If we’re well supported at work we can be fiercely loyal employees particularly if our employer demonstrates family friendly values or offers flexible work practices. If our job works in with our family or our employer understands that we have certain responsibilities as a parent, we’ll be easily retained and have no issues committing long term. We’ll go above and beyond to perform well and if we have to pick up emails after hours or make a call to a client on our day off, so be it. If we are valued and supported as a working parent, we are in turn happy, and happy employees are productive employees.
Having a baby will teach you patience, particularly if you go well beyond your due date or have a baby that prefers not to sleep. A defiant toddler in the throes of a tantrum will hone your negotiation, conflict resolution and problem solving skills and as a parent, you learn to listen and pick up on what those around you are thinking and feeling. These competencies are crucial to effective communication and relationship building at work and can only indicate that mums can be ready team players and supportive and attentive colleagues.
Responsible and Reliable
We have successfully grown a little person within us for 9 months or more and now continue to nurture the emotional, physical and social needs of our offspring. In the process, we have stepped up, grown up and demonstrated that we are responsible and reliable. We’re also a little more wiser and a whole lot more mature. What employer wouldn’t find these traits attractive?
In summary, I don’t deny that non-mums can possess the above attributes, nor do I deny that as a working mum myself, my views may be somewhat biased however it is clear to me that mums need to be viewed as an asset rather than a liability. We need to be provided equal opportunities to participate in the workforce and be able to combine meaningful work with the joys of motherhood, without all the obstacles, if we choose to do so.