Time for agencies to put families first

This is a big shout out to my industry to please enhance their support to brilliant females in the sector that are also working mothers and desperately trying to balance their home and work lives.  We need them. 

The irony is that traditional agency is so ‘unfeminine’ in how it operates, yet it has so many females working within it…go figure.

It never ceases to amaze me when I hear the careless comments and witness the ‘road blocks’ that we (women – and some men for that matter) face daily when trying to juggle our 9-5 jobs and the jobs we go home to; motherhood and CEO of household logistics.

It’s such a taboo subject in agency and I’ve known many women to downplay their motherhood status because they are fearful that it will jeopardise their career prospects, unless they’ve already reached the very top.

I’ve also come across incredible female fee earners who have their requests to slightly adapt their work hours, so as to have that precious day or half day with their child, instantly declined. The good ones, of which there are many, are always available and on the phone way beyond office hours anyway.

Are all those disrupted evenings, weekends and holidays when they are going beyond the call of duty really considered when their flexi work applications are declined or negotiated down?

I would say, most likely not.

A number of years ago I was asked during an interview if I could handle and commit to a full time job and be a mother to two young children.  I’m not sure this is even a legal question. I was taken aback and I remember taking a breath before answering. I was thinking, ‘Really gentlemen! I can do this as easily as you get ready for work in the morning, it’s as automatic to me as it is to you, brushing your teeth and polishing your shoes ready for your working day!’

If only everyone would just ease up and accept that women (and men too) are just as effective in a shorter working week or a slightly more flexible day. A business can support this, if it really wants to.

Parents are experts at time management, juggling and solving problems; it’s what they do all the time at home. Monday to Friday, 9-5pm is so yesterday and it’s all to do with out of date British working patterns.

Some agency bosses fear that if they grant that one person a little bit of flexibility it will mean that everyone will follow. By taking a wider angled view, these small adaptations result in a happier, more committed and an even more productive team member. It’s such a small thing that generates such huge gratitude, happiness and positivity.

I know that there are some brilliant exceptions, so I apologise now if I offend those progressive agency management teams/bosses in any way, but generally speaking, being a fee earning mother in agency is perceived to be a problem. Fact.

Isn’t it time that we humanise agency and prioritise what matters most to all of us?  That we all put family first, business second?

We all know that when we feel we have balance, then life and work merge and we excel in all aspects of our lives.

So next time there’s a working parent putting in an application for flexi work, please pause for thought before you make your decision.

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