We’re at the start of a new year – a time when there is generally a good sprinkling of hope, optimism and opportunity in the air. Promises of new beginnings, dreams and wishes for how we might use the pending 12 months. And before the despair of the failed new year resolutions, we’re addressing this to all the working women, and specifically working parents and carers, out there shouting that this is your time to shine.
There’s never been a better time to be a “career mum” and here’s 7 reasons why:
1. Focus on women’s contribution to our economic well-being
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is heading the #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign in London through 2018 bringing attention to individuals and businesses to set gender equality goals for 2018. The World Economic Forum have calculated that gender equality can add £250bn to our GDP.
Starting with the Capital’s New Year’s Eve firework celebrations, themed around the campaign and celebrating 100 years since women’s suffrage in the UK and accompanied by music from female performers, this is a bold and public move to show the need to put women on an equal footing with men.
2. Awareness of gender inequalities
Hardly a day goes by when gender inequalities are out of the news headlines. During the past year there has been plenty of activity that has kept gender inequalities on the front page. The #metoo viral campaign in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations have raised much awareness of the persistence of sexual harassment in our everyday lives. #everydaysexism has continued to raise awareness of mansplaining, unconscious bias and blatant sexism that continues to impact on women’s lives. These are starting to trickle through to improved working policies, practices and behaviours.
3. Gender pay gap reporting
By 5th April 2018, 9,000 British-based employers will have reported on their gender pay gap. Whilst this will continue to create easy and sensational headlines for the media, the opportunities for women progressing in their career will follow. Generally the gender pay gap reports will show how behind women are in leadership positions – not that they are being paid less for the same job as their male counterparts, but that we don’t have the breadth and depth of women in leadership roles. Switched-on employers will be putting more effort, energy and resources into changing this situation for future annual reporting. There will be more opportunities to develop leadership skills, grow into more senior roles and support available to enable these to happen.
4. Shared parental leave
Whilst shared parental leave has been around for a few years, and despite very low take-up so far, we envisage that this will start to change as more dads lead the way in taking shared parental leave and dispel the common fears that many men (and employers) have. It is true to say that many men would like to take their turn in shared parenting, but are fearful of the impact on their careers (having seen what historically has happened to women’s careers on becoming mothers). As more employers offer equal pay and conditions to men taking shared parental leave as their female counterparts, the parenting playing field is starting to be evened out. Working parents make up a significant proportion of the working population, so let’s make it work for all parents regardless of gender, offering empathy, flexibility and trust.
5. The rise of returnships
The success of returnships is not necessarily the individual returns, as these are still fairly low in number, but the fact that they have tipped traditional thinking about careers on their head. Returnships have proven that careers can be paused and restarted, that career breaks are no longer taboo and need to be the end of any career ambitions. The outdated view of linear career trajectories needs to be replaced with a view of careers as being flexible, multi-faceted, unique and changeable – and that this suits the post-industrial era that we are living in.
6. Networking opportunities
There has never been so many opportunities for women to get involved in networking. Men have long used networking as a way of creating and building relationships to further their goals. Women may not have been traditionally encouraged to get involved, but there has been a significant shift with the rise of women-only and mixed networking opportunities. If you are new to networking or your networking skills are on the rusty-side, read our advice on getting started.
7. Careers and business support for women
There are now many more opportunities for women to get support to develop their career or start their own business. Women need to get over any out-dated stereotypes of not asking for help or showing any vulnerabilities. There are so many possibilities for getting help from your local council’s business and enterprise team, on-line support, career coaches, business mentors and so on. Men know that career success is not achieved without a strong team of supporters, sponsors and advisers around them – many women are getting on-board with this concept too.
We know that there are many women with highly successful careers – employed and entrepreneurs; we also know that a lot of women’s careers are significantly impacted by motherhood and their careers have taken a backseat. What would you like to achieve this coming year?
At Career-Mums we are committed to contributing to the removal of gender barriers to career success. We help women return to work after a career break, set up their own business, transition to new roles, realise their value and juggle the demands of being a working parent and being a parent, helping families to thrive.
We also support employers to engage better with working parents and to help them transition to be a more gender diverse employer. We see the opportunity and need to develop more women leaders.
So, career mums – this is your time to shine.
There has never been a better time to be a working parent. The opportunities are waiting for you. At the start of this New Year, what are you going to do to make the most of the opportunities out there?
Contact us for an initial conversation to see how we can support you in relaunching your career, developing a career plan, developing your leadership skills or juggling the demands of working and being a parent.
Join our free Facebook group, Career-Mums Club for daily inspiration and support as a working parent.