Three quarters of the UK mums work – a figure that has been steadily rising for decades.
Yet only half of these 13 million hard-pressed, time-poor parents work flexible hours. The rest are stuck trying to juggle a myriad of responsibilities.
The problems don’t stop here. At a recent Women in Finance Event, female leaders highlighted how presenteeism culture penalises women who participate in flexible working.
They said it’s seen as a “female thing”, with part-time women being overlooked for promotion or not given sufficiently high profile opportunities that could open doors to promotion.
Almost half of City and Canary Wharf workers share this fear that flexible working could impact their career progression.
Moreover, opportunities for flexible working tend to be more available in senior roles where people can manage their own time and have access to remote technologies.
For those in clerical, admin and customer service roles, there just aren’t the options.
A recent survey has revealed that a third of London City professionals feel like these policies are not open to all, and 38 percent disagreed that such policies were actively encouraged in their firm.
It’s clear that businesses don’t do enough to cater for parents, and mothers especially. With all these pressures, it’s no wonder that 37 percent of them have faked being sick to meet a family obligation.
Those parents who work full-time and find ways to provide the right childcare options, myself included, still face hundreds of other pressures.
When booking a doctor’s appointment we are asked; “what days don’t you work"?
There’s an assumption that as a mum you must only be working part-time.
The result? Guilt. When we’re at work, we feel like we’re being bad parents.
When we’re at home, we feel guilt about not doing the best job we can. Alternatively, guilt for not being role models to our children; not showing them that women can do it all.
It manifests itself in many ways, but often causes loss of confidence and a desire to not step up – either because we worry there’ll not be time to do even more work or because we just can’t face the thought of even more pressure.
At Companies House we’re working hard to give all women a voice within the organisation.
Our Womens’ Network provides a forum for women and mothers to talk about their challenges without fear of repercussion. It also provides an incredibly useful way for management to identify and solve the pinch points.
I recently attended a session on this topic, which was – despite being a perennial issue – still as hot as ever.
A junior member of staff attended the network despite having to miss a school function.