Why companies are missing out on the best employees in the world!

9 Aug

So, according to CBS these are the 5 traits of the perfect employee:

1. Hardworking
2. Has initiative
3. Intelligent
4. Reliable
5. Has ambition

Now, this is the sort of stuff I hear regularly from Mum friends:

“Having stayed calm while my baby screamed in my face for five hours every night for weeks, I’ve so much more patience now then before I was a Mum”

“Having a newborn takes you out of yourself – you can’t be selfish anymore.  They need you 24/7 and for you to always be calm, patient and reassuring”

“Despite spending over ten years working in high pressure roles, I’ve never had a job more challenging, more physically and emotionally exhausting and that made me question myself more than this one”

“I feel I have an entirely new, healthier perspective on life and new values to go with it”

“When I return to work I need what I do to have purpose, to be rewarding, to impact positively on the world I’ve brought this little one into.  I have more drive and ambition than ever”

“I’m looking forward to going back to work – to have something for me, get some kind of balance and to set a great example to my child”

“I survived life with a newborn, my child is happy and thriving, I CAN DO ANYTHING!!!”

Mum’s are a-maz-ing, inspiring, hard-working, nurturing, kind and selfless things.  We achieve more in a morning than we used to achieve in a day.  So much of our time is so totally given to these little people, that when we do get a moment or an opportunity to do something else, something for us, we grab it and fill it and achieve great things.  

So why do I hear that Amy’s work told her (off the record!) that the company and Mums don’t mix – they won’t allow her to do a 4-day week?  That there are very few part time roles out there?  That Jenny has resigned herself to barely seeing her son because while she doesn’t enjoy her job, she doesn’t want to leave and risk not qualifying for maternity pay when she has her next child?  That the general consensus is that Mums don’t make great employees – that they return to work with a ‘baby brain’, always have to leave on time and need time off to look after their sick kid?  Wow, so much focus on when they’re not there – what about the time that they are there?  Do they not realise that most of us will achieve more in those four days than we ever did in five?  That in a Mum they get a passionate, focused, understanding, nurturing and patient individual.  Someone who knows how to manage difficult personalities (!), how to make work fun and wants to make her work life count.

Seriously?  Anyone who takes these views clearly doesn’t really know a Mum.  Now I’m not naive enough to believe that all Mums would and want to be amazing employees.  Lots do want to be at home with their kids and would find it hard to be anywhere else.  But many deserve for companies to do more than simply ‘not discriminate’ (although just that would be amazing in many cases).  They should be actively employing these wonderful creatures!  The problem is only other Mums really know this about Mums (I’m sure lots of Dads do too).  I’m ashamed to admit that I was a little guilty of the kinds of views I mentioned above before I went through labour, felt my whole view of the world change in those first few minutes as a Mum and had the challenging experience of life with a newborn. But how many Mums occupy the board rooms and decision-making roles within companies?  Not enough.  That’s kinda the problem.

I LOVE that this predicament has inspired some Mums to create their own businesses, explore alternative options and so on.  But I know that more have given in, thinking they have no other option.  Many are working ridiculous hours, doing jobs they hate because it’s impossible to get a brand new job that will give them flexible hours.  Others have lost confidence in their ability.  In this super connected world companies can and need to be more flexible.  When necessary we can (and will happily) log on from home after bedtime.  We can work from home just as effectively as we can in the office.  We can have meetings online.  A little flexibility from employers to accomodate Mums would massively pay off as they’d benefit from having these awesome creatures working for them.  It’s 2012 people, why are these companies stuck with these old fashioned, rigid ways and attitudes?

This amazingly inspiring article I think has some answers for us.

And this article (thanks Cool Hunter) inspired me to finally write this post.

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