Doing a blog has meant over the last few months it has given me the chance to meet some incredible and inspirational women and open up a dialogue about being a working parent. One of the topics we have discussed is about the different generations as some of the mothers have children in their 20’s and 30’s and some are brand new parents, is how society has changed and it has been fascinating understanding how much really has changed since our mums had us.
I realised that through my conversations that not one of my friends, who have had a child isn’t going back to work, yet 20/30 years ago the norm and what was accepted in society was to not to go back and that women accepted (okay not all the time, but I am generalising) that their place was in the home. Fast forward 20/30 years and is there now a prejudice against women not going back to work as a lifestyle choice?
Granted there is a big discussion with parents about one not working due to the cost of nursery fee’s and child care, but that is a very different conversation to the one about making a choice because you can, not to go back to work and stay at home. So my question is – have the ladies that lunch, had their last meal? This is no way a judging women who are stay at home mum’s, who I have a tremendous amount of respect for and is definitely not something I could do because if I am honest, I find really hard. I am just not creative or have the patience, but just like I wouldn’t want to be judged for being a working mum. There needs to be a mutual respect because motherhood, however you deal with it, is certainly not always easy.
I do believe that as a society we have grown and adapted and there are a lot more opportunities out there and that women have fought hard to be treated as equal in the work place (although we still have a long way to go) and as we see more and more inspirational women balancing it all and men supporting more, it is only going to become the norm.
Society is incredible and each decade we have evolved and there is a defining moment in each that has summarised what people remember that decade for. I would love to see that maybe not in this decade as we are still setting so many foundations, but that maybe in the next, working women have found the equality we deserve. I find this increasingly interesting the longer I have been back at work, as I realise that a lot is unequal and I don’t feel that I am asking for a lot – but just to have equality. Whether that be my pay, my hours, invitations to events, opinions on matters that affect me and my team or the way I dress.
So the big question is how are we going to get there and what needs to happen in order for 2020 – 2030 to be defined as the decade working women got their equality in the work place…
- Gender Pay Gap – this finally came in from April 2017 (about time!!!) and businesses with over 250 employees have to report the overall gender pay gap between all men and women . This will need to be reported annually, not just on the organisation’s website, but also a dedicated Government website, which means that the information is accessible to all. I think it is going to be a while before this really starts making an impact as there seems to be quite a process to go through before even then being able to make the change happen.
- Shared Maternity & Paternity Leave – As much as this is great in principal in reality, it won’t work unless companies really do support it culturally and financially and that men are comfortable to do it. However, for me it needs to first be made financially viable by companies to warrant it happening as you are so financially constrained anyway when you have a child and aren’t working, you won’t do shared maternity and paternity leave unless it financially makes sense.
- Flexible Working – I am hearing about more and more business that are doing this and not because of working mothers in particular, but because of the change in society or the cost of having a full work force in the office all the time, or even the work/life balance debate we seem to struggle with so much as we can’t switch off. This can only be a positive change for parents also as it allows you to get the job done, be trusted to do it but most importantly do the nursery/school run and be there for the moments that matter for your children and still respond to emails!
- Positive Role Models – these amazing people are what make our society great but in today’s society there is such a blurring of what a role model is. For me though the more we can see these people raise above the norm and get their story out to showcase that working mums can do, we can be treated equally and we won’t be penalised for doing so!
- The Media – as someone who works with the media and has a lot of friends and contacts who are journalists, I only know the power that they hold. They can be an incredible ally to have and it needs to become part of the media agenda that they tackle the stereotype and challenge business and people who aren’t treating working mothers with equality and showcasing the positive role models out there who are doing it right for themselves and others.
The reason I started my blog was to show that with hard work, support and perseverance you really can take the working world by it’s horns and I hope that as I talk about Positive Role Models in this blog, I can live my life through my work and being a mother, that is a positive role model to other working parents. I may only be a very little cog in changes that need to happen in society for equality to happen, but I am here, saying my piece and will support and fight my little battles so that in hopefully the not so distant future – we are all be treated as equal.
Lauren – workingmummablog