Women In HR: Come To The Front
16 May 2017
The modern working woman is seen to be a number of things: a go-getter, a multi-tasker, a hard worker. After all, the analogy of the glass ceiling would lead most to believe that women have had to work twice as hard to get to where they are in the workplace.
But most women will probably find themselves facing an all-too-common workplace dichotomy – they are torn between pursuing a career or having a family life.
I recently attended the HR Network Conference through in Edinburgh, where I was absolutely captivated by guest speaker, Ros Taylor, and her key note speech on Women In Leadership.
She suggested that, both literally and figuratively, women very rarely “come to the front”. We put up psychological barriers wherein we don’t put ourselves forward for promotions or pay rises – we don’t even feel confident enough to sit at the front of a conference.
Women are far more likely undersell their skills and abilities for fear of coming across as too pushy or aggressive. It seems rooted to the fact that women entered the workplace centuries after men, and still feel ‘new’ to things.
Studies show that women are also far less likely to ask for a pay rise, whereas men have absolutely no problem in asking for a hike – even outwith annual reviews. It perhaps stems from this notion that women feel like they need to prove themselves in a role before asking for rightful payment.
And, sadly, in this day and age, women are still seen as primary carers when it comes to children, therefore the mantra of ‘having it all’ still seems impossible for some.
Many women won’t even consider taking a promotion in work because it may entail longer hours or a heavier workload – both of which could have an impact on family life. “Who will pick up the kids from school if I have to work till after 6pm every night?” is something that any working mother would worry about. But would a working father?
Perhaps that’s why 54,000 mothers have told The Fawcett Society website that they have felt ‘forced’ out of their jobs less than a year after returning from maternity leave. Many women have also suggested that the decision to have a family has negatively impacted their career – or that they return to work only to find they are treated differently.
There is also the issue of flexi- or part-time working hours. For many working mothers, the option to have flexible working hours or to work four days over five would be an ideal solution to childcare needs. However, this, in turn, may make some women feel like they cannot be considered for promotion because they are not working a 40 hour week.
This also means that, because these working mums are not getting the exposure to more responsibility internally, they will find it difficult to further their careers externally. This really hinders the HR market as there is no fresh talent emerging.
So, what are employers doing to engage driven candidates with childcare needs? To prevent the HR market (which is predominantly female) becoming stagnant, hiring managers need to consider candidates who do not fit traditional working patterns. These are women who are keen to progress their career but, rightfully, feel they are entitled to have a work/life balance.
After all, there has been plenty of talk within the business world recently of 6 hour days or 4 day weeks. Studies have shown that employees often get more work done within shorter time frames.
Ladies, you don’t need to prove yourselves. Go for that promotion, ask for that wage rise, take pride in your work. Come to the front - you deserve it.
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Written By Monica Lochrie