Australian working mums cry out for flexible working arrangements:
It’s time to address workplace discrimination
Date: April 05 2016
According to new research conducted by FlexCareers, more than half of all working women in Australia reported that they have been discriminated against purely because they are mums. This discrimination has caused an often untold burden for women during a time in their lives when they should be celebrating motherhood instead of battling for their rights to either work or take time off to get settled into this phase of their life.
There were over 400 respondents to the research, opening up the issues that Australian working mums face as they juggle motherhood and work. Hundreds of stories were revealed about workplace discrimination, including being overlooked for promotion, being made redundant, having a maternity leave fill-in placed permanently in their position, and losing career opportunities that were already in their pipeline.
“I don’t get given the interesting work because full time employees ‘need it more,’ which means I can’t progress my career because I don’t have quality experience. It’s a vicious cycle,” one respondent to the research revealed.
“One company wouldn’t give me a permanent contract because I worked part-time, even though my team leader advised them he’d rather have me working four days than a less efficient person working five,” another working mother said.
FlexCareers CEO Nikki Hobin believes that there are a lot of talented mothers who aren’t working simply because of work flexibility issues. “The top reason talented mothers aren’t working is because they cannot find the flexibility they need to make life, motherhood and a career actually work. Sadly only 11% of those currently working said they had the ideal flexible work arrangement. This presents a huge opportunity for Australian businesses to embrace flexibility, to attract and keep talented working mothers,” she explained.
“However, these need to be offers of genuine flexibility, not the perception of it. Genuine flexibility requires understanding, not judgment. Employees that benefit from flexible working environments can be made to feel that they always have to justify themselves, or pay back for the ‘privilege’ of having a flexible work arrangement in other ways. This needs to change. Employers who successfully create a culture of flexible work and focus on training leaders to manage diverse teams, will be the winners at the end of the day,” she added.
Hobin encourages working women to openly discuss flexibility with their employer so they can explain what it would actually look like for them.
The best approach would be to do their homework and ask if their employer has any policy on flexible work. If there are any colleagues that work flexibly, talk to them and see what suggestions they have for a conversation with the Manager. It is also important to look at the situation from both perspectives and think about what would make offering flexible working arrangements a viable and attractive proposition.
ABOUT THE EXPERT
FlexCareers has engineered game-changing technology to connect talented individuals with progressive employers offering flexible work. Their initial focus is the underutilised talent pool of 2.1 million career mums to enable Australia's workforce and deliver gender diversity in scale. FlexCareers is a growing community of talented women successfully adding value at work and at home. To know more, visit http://www.flexcareers.com.au.