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Women in Leadership: The case for working mums

Rhian Morgan

Managers are increasingly seeing that when it comes to productivity, experience, and reliability, mother knows best, writes Rhian Morgan

 The professional skills that mothers possess are often overlooked. Mums have to be tip-top organisers and time managers. They need to have the leadership qualities of being fair yet firm, with good boundary management. They are unbelievably hard-working and tough.

The latest research shows that managers are starting to recognise that fact. A fifth more employers are committed to becoming more flexible when it comes to hiring mothers, with a quarter planning to hire more returning mums than a year ago.

The research highlights that returning mothers are particularly valued by businesses globally because of their experience and skillset (73%). Additionally, returning mothers are seen as less likely to change jobs, saving firms the cost of recruitment and re-training. A new study by global workplace provider Regus, of more than 4,000 employers globally, showed that the majority of employers (81%) surveyed said flexible working plays an important part in attracting and retaining working mothers, not only allowing existing staff to stay in roles but also offering mums who have been out of the workforce a way back in that fits around family commitments.

Global Operations Director at Regus said Celia Donne: “There is a vast amount of untapped potential among skilled and experienced mothers who are unable to work due to family commitments. Flexible working enables companies to tap into this important talent supply and offer returning mothers a way back into the workforce.”

Which is good to know, seeing as before now, figures painted a dire picture, of dinosaur companies seeing mothers as unreliable, and admitting to being more likely to hire men than women. Last year, another survey stated that 44% of managers avoided hiring young women so they could avoid maternity leave. The survey also stated that a third believed working mums weren’t as good at their jobs.

Women are also often made redundant during pregnancy, as they have surprisingly few legal rights in reality. And the Regus research shows that a lot of the old biases are still apparent. Only a quarter of working mothers are seen as more reliable (24%) and organised (29%) than other staff. And just 18% of employers said mums were more hardworking (18%) and more caring (17%).

Yet other findings indicates that returning mothers play an important role in the overall economy by contributing to boosting gross domestic product (GDP) through increased female participation in the labour force. And a recent Harvard University global study shows that daughters of mothers in paid employment go on to have better careers and more equal relationships.

There is a vast amount of untapped potential among skilled and experienced mothers who are unable to work due to family commitments. The contrasting demands of motherhood and work are one of the main reasons women drop out of the workforce. Flexible working enables companies to tap into this workforce and offer returning mothers a way back in. The benefits to businesses are clear: less staff turnover, lower hiring and training costs, and access to talented staff. But in order to retain these valuable employees, it is it is evident that businesses need to reassess their use of flexible working to attract top female talent. Many also have to change their archaic mindset.

Celia Donne added: “The benefits to businesses are clear; not least, lower staff turnover and associated hiring and training costs. But in order to retain these valuable employees it is critical that firms offer some level of flexible working, such as the possibility to work closer to home.

 “With reports suggesting that if the number of women in the workforce reached the same as that of men national GDP growth could be up to 10% higher, the case for increasing flexible working is very strong. Add to that the value placed on returning mothers and it is evident that businesses need to reassess their use of flexible working to attract top female talent.”

With my previous column illustrating that businesses do better when run by females, it’s evidently time for more employers to get mothers on board.

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