Annabel: One of the most difficult things about being a working parent is juggling your commitments. For some people this turns into a nightmare combination of deadlines and stress that puts their health and jobs at risk. But unreliable staff makes things very difficult for a boss. However sympathetic your employer may be, the business has a job that needs to be done.
Allie: If we are going to have achievable goals and reduce stress, we need to learn good time management skills and to make realistic commitments.
Annabel: In a lot of organisations the men and women who climb the corporate ladder are working really long hours and are available to their company 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Many new parents are at a time in their lives when they simply do not want to do this. Some take the opportunity to move into jobs that are less consuming, so that they can have better work-life balance.
Allie: When you reduce your hours, you need to agree with your boss (in writing) what your new role and responsibilities will be. Play your part in ensuring that your boss has realistic expectations of what can be achieved in your reduced timetable, and don’t over-commit in the job description.
Annabel: Statistics show that women do well at equal opportunity until the children come along, and then they fall behind. It may be that motherhood, rather than gender is what makes the difference. There is an enormous difference between what the most family friendly organisation can do, and the worst. Check out http://www.topemployersforworkingfamilies.org.uk and look at last year’s winners and this year’s shortlist.
Allie: Working parents often feel excluded from opportunities for promotion or high visibility projects because they are not in the pub or round the coffee machine when people are talking about what might happen. You need a strategy to overcome this. Allocate some work socialising in your time management plan. And make sure, in your appraisals, that your manager knows you have not given up on getting ahead.
Annabel: There is no specific protection for working parents. Whilst the Equality Act and its predecessors provide protection for women where a requirement such as full time working is something they are less likely to be able to comply with, or part time workers (regardless of gender), there is no overall right to prioritise your family and hold down a high powered job. For many parents, the arrival of children is a time when they have to work out how to maximise their income and yet provide for children. Usually, the highest earner continues and the lower seeks flexible working or alternatives. Women still earn on average 80% of what men earn, so often it is the woman whose career suffers. For some women this is a great opportunity to spend time with their children and enjoy family life, but for others this can be a difficult sacrifice to make.
Do you have a query that you’d like Allie or Annabel to answer? Follow this link and post your question for them – http://balancingthebump.com/contact/
Posted by on 18/11/2011 10:37:18
Jackie Groundsell is known as the queen of women's business networking lunches - the Connector. She supports thousands of small business owners through her events and lunch-time meetings