My first redundancy occurred in 2001 and subsequent to the collapse of Lehman Brothers my career has been thrown into disrepair and chaos as I was made redundant in 2009,2010 and also the early part of 2012.
The career goals I had are constantly changing and I cannot find a way of sticking to them because my choices have become limited and also my salary.
My situation however is akin to many people who are working in today’s job market. Many of us choose to take the first job and ‘hang in there’ until better comes. But, does a better job come our way? Sometimes hanging on to something we don’t want, we lose sight of what we really want.
Redundancy appears to always come as a shock even when you know it’s imminent or has a negative connotation attached to it ( we are getting rid of you, or you are not good enough)- and it takes a few to knock you, before you feel open and positive to accept it as a turning point in your life and embrace the challenges ahead. It does however, require courage in these current conditions as the jobless amount increases daily and governments are nervous about the Euro Zone Crisis.
The good thing is, as we let go and say ‘I’ll handle it’ according to Susan Jefferies in ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway’ we have put acceptance into the frame and when we accept changes and let go new opportunities arrive.
After careful analysis of my past role I realised the job was not fulfilling and it gave me the opportunity to find and develop an interest in writing. I wouldn’t have the chance to explore this option had it been a fulfilling role that stretched me, as I wouldn’t look to see what else I could do. With writing comes self discipline and also the need to become more expressive and shortly after the course started, I joined Toastmasters. To have the time to carry out both of these interests is absolutely brilliant!
I have borrowed three books from the library, which I hope will steer me in another direction. They are ‘I don’t know what I want but I know it’s not this’, ‘Finding Square Holes and ‘Planning a career change’.
I will let you know what ‘gems’ I have found in these books and whether they have given me my ‘Ah Ha!’ moment in finding a job that makes my soul sing!
Posted in Mummy and working
A City survey identified that women in Financial Services were being paid 21% less than their male colleagues performing a similar role. This percentage converts to around £30,000 less in complete pay which includes bonuses.
With large City firms focussing on their diversity policies, the research shows that women are still behind when it comes their financial reward.
Not only does the gap need to be drastically narrowed for equality reasons but more importantly, to attract top talent regardless of gender. Retention of talent here is significant also when the economy is in such a downturn.
The Home Secretary and Equalities Minister, Theresa May enforced "gagging" clauses in contracts back in 2010 to discontinue City workers discussing their pay. Since the enforcement of this clause, there appears to be little effect.
Nearly 2000 City professionals took part in a survey which showed that overall, employees were less satisfied with their base salary. The results also showed that the pay rises were less common in comparison to 2010.
The Treasury failed to consider how crucial policies would affect women before the 2010 spending review, according to a report by the equality watchdog.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it was "unable to establish" whether government had checked how its flagship schemes would hit vulnerable people – despite this being a legal necessity.
The government appeared to rush through these points and concentrate more so on the more “attractive” policies to win over supporters.
The Treasury was found to be weak in three areas. One of the main cuts was, capping of household benefits – limiting welfare to £500 a week for couples and lone parent households. The testing of the impact on women was not tested prior to the announcement of these cuts.
The study found that the Treasury could quite often dismiss arguments around gender and argue they often don’t have accurate information. This is seen as disregarding these sub-groups. The commission has warned they may be breaking the law by enforcing indirect discrimination.
The majority of part-time workers today are women and to put this group at a particular disadvantage would be considered unlawful.
The commission's report follows a legal case brought by the Fawcett Society, which campaigns on women's rights, in August 2010. Campaigners argued the government could not show it had assessed whether the emergency budget in June that year would increase or reduce inequality between women and men.
Which term do you prefer to use?
Part-time has been around forever and is still used but may suggest “fixed hours” and not working at “full-time” capacity? It has been suggested on occasion that part-time is rather career-limiting and demonstrates less commitment. Rather unfair don’t you think.
On the other hand, flexible working is being more recently used and actually presents a whole new theme to a working pattern.
Yes, it can be seen as a new buzz -word in the world of recruiting, but it does actually present many advantages to the employee and of course an organisation.
Admittedly, flexible working does focus firstly on the female population with young children. This is the most affiliated subject to the term, flexible working. But again it can offer so much more.
Flexible working is used a lot to encourage the focus of re-engagement in employment where expectations have been that women won’t necessarily work after having children. The promotion of this work pattern can demonstrate so many advantages for business and our economy.
The term flexible working is used to basically describe a working pattern that is adapted to suit the needs of an employer. The most common types of flexible working does include part-time so the term is not completely forgotten about, as it is the working pattern in which we can work has expanded. More interesting terms of flexible working used are homeworking, compressed hours and staggered hours.
Some organisations are making great strides in embracing flexible working and pushing ahead as they value the positive outcomes. More can be done within companies to breakdown the barriers within the environment, to raise awareness and eliminate fear.
Some initial steps businesses need to promote the benefits are;
- Recognition of the need for an attitude and culture change within their environment.
- Flexible working isn’t just for women with children but all employees
- Flexible working can actually aid thinking about decisions to change work patterns, including the dynamics and effectiveness of current jobs being worked in.
These are just a few examples and steps to makes the changes and require a huge amount of commitment, communication and time to implement and manage.
Our social and economic dynamics are encouraging changes, which may take some time. It is current and very real and we can only continue to move in the right direction.
How can you possibly have a career and a personal life and not feel guilty that someone is getting short changed? Is it a no win situation which just can't be resolved? Sorry for the cliche, but it's actually a win-win situation.
First, let's take a look at your personal life. You have a lot of commitments, right? But isn't this what makes you feel connected to this earth? Commitments are a good thing - you may have a commitment to a sports team, a local school, a charity or a family matter. These commitments take you away from work, both mentally and physically. (Again, this is also a good thing which I'll come back to later). Your instinct is that your priorities are in the right place, but you still feel guilty leaving clients or colleagues with unfinished business.
Now let's take a look at your professional life. You are no doubt enjoying the challenge and collaboration of working with other adults. Knowing you, I bet you're really throwing yourself into the new job, the new role, or project. But I hear you. You're telling me that despite this job satisfaction you still do experience that tinge (or on a bad day, that pang) of guilt that you should be home having a glass of wine with your partner or reading that bedtime story with your kids.
Well, if it's any consolation we've all been there . The point is you're not alone and it's not personal - it's part of the human predicament. It's part of what defines us and you've got to stop beating yourself up about it. It's not your fault, so there's absolutely no reason why you should feel guilty!
Kate Redding, the working mom played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the film I don't know how she does it, demonstrates beautifully that so much of the guilt we experience is self-imposed. We set unrealistic expectations of what we can achieve - whether that be at home or at work. Kate seems to feel guilty about everything and as a result she seems almost scatter-brained and unfocused in almost every situation. Her guilt seems to be driving her to be uber human. (She really stoops low when she dresses up a store-bought cake as homemade for the school bake sale. She doesn't want her kids to feel like she's contributing less than the other mothers. Oh, please!). In a way we set ourselves up for feeling a sense of failure, a sense of guilt, because we can't meet a pie in the sky expectation.
Ok, so although you buy into my logic, you're still not over it.
Here's the real key to getting to grips with the guilt trip. What you have to realize is that it's because of your personal life (rather than in spite of!) that you're a better professional, a better business person. People like to deal with other people. The unique approach, values and integrity you bring to the work environment are your greatest contributions. Your uniqueness comes from your personal life, your upbringing and your personal experiences. Also having a personal life pulls you away from work - it saves you from burn-out (I saw plenty of this in my corporate life!). It allows you to break away and recharge your battery, which of course makes you more productive in the long run. Ever notice how much easier something feels once you've had that mental break?
Fine, I get all that, but I still feel guilty about not spending enough time with my partner. I feel guilty about leaving the kids. Did you ever think about how your professional life makes you an interesting person - how it broadens your perspective? Have you ever thought about how your professional life enables you to support your partner's career (you realize just how tough it is out there in the real world!). So many skills and qualities that you apply in your personal life have actually been developed in your work life. You've got it - your professional life makes you a better person - you as a partner, daughter, friend or mother. You can help your relatives and close friends get out of those tricky situations because you solve problems at work all day long!
Bottom line? Although you want perfection, just focusing on that one thing doesn't get you there either. Once you accept that you can't possibly be everywhere and do everything, and also accept that it's the varied dimensions in your life that might it worth living, you're well on the road to recovery. No more guilt. Time to enjoy life's variety!
As much as I am looking forward to being spoilt this Sunday, I will be reflecting on just how lucky I am as a mum (of course!) but also how our social positioning has changed over the decades.
Women today are encouraged to be ambitious and believe that anything is possible - we can have it all, right? We should be immensely proud and be celebrated as we continue to break through barriers in business and society. We have achieved this along with running a house, sustaining relationships and most importantly raising a family.
Over the decades we have gained much more freedom and considerable opportunities as women and this definitely should be celebrated. We owe a big thanks to our grandmothers!
Today we are fortunate to be better positioned financially and socially compared to women generations before us, but we still have a long way to go. It is positive that more women return to the workplace after becoming a mum these days but it is a shame that of all the non full-time jobs available on the market, only 5% are quality career jobs. So many skills are wasted as women take roles which require less skills than they have achieved in their careers. It is proven that businesses are taking steps to improve their appetite for flexible working and this is a step in the right direction. The real benefits of companies sourcing from a talent pool of mums are hugely positive - loyalty, efficient budgeting, commitment and motivated are just a few to mention.
So on reflection, this Mother's Day we have lots to celebrate and be optimistic about. Small steps but in the right direction!
I’ve just come back from a week's holiday from work. Despite advising all and sundry of my few day's absence, spending lots of time to prepare for my absence and leaving meticulous notes for my "cover", I still came back to a mountain of emails, meetings and work requests.
By Monday lunchtime I was just about raising my head above the parapet, when I was landed with prep for an important Board meeting mid-week and down the ladder I went to sit firmly in Square One again!
I found myself wondering if my few days away from the office were really worth all the pain and suffering (slight exaggeration) I was now experiencing and wondered was there anything else I could have done to prepare for my absence.
I'm going away for 3 weeks in April and quite frankly am dreading to what I'll come back to...
Is this the price I have to pay for having half term off to spend quality time with my son? I'm wondering how other cope and what your experiences are. I'm looking forward to hearing your comments!
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Staying at home with our children to bond with and be a full-time mum is the ideal scenario for lots of mums. But does our well-being suffer?
According to a ten year study carried out by the University of North Carolina, stay-at-home mums are more likely to be depressed and suffer ill health than working mums. The study collated 10 years of data from over 1000 mums. They followed them since giving birth and throughout the decade to measure their well-being.
Across all cases there were significant differences in maternal well-being, such as conflict between work and family or parenting. Interestingly the measured outcome favoured part-time work over full-time work. Also part-time work was favoured over not working at all.
Having compared part-time and full-time workers, their general health or depressive symptoms didn’t differ. They were practically the same.
The happy balance of part-time work found that they were involved with schooling as much as stay-at-home mums and definitely more than full-time mums.
Those part-time working mums were apparently more sensitive to pre-school learning and presenting opportunities to learn than full-time mums. Pre-school learning was a priority and more attention and dedication was provided.
We are all experiencing a rather tough economic climate and employers are cutting back more and more. Part-time employees are attractive for reasons including reduced salary costs/benefits and training. Equally, employers do get a lot of value add from hiring part-time mums as they are mostly highly efficient, provide a wealth of experience and demonstrate continued commitment. We need to see more opportunities from businesses in supporting this work pattern. There is certainly talent out their to be invested in.
There are positives to all scenarios mentioned and as individual parents we chose which one works best for us and our family. I have tried both over the past few years whilst raising my young family and both are very stressful at times and bring their highs and lows. It is a personal choice. For me it finding the best balance which enables you to enjoy the amazing elements of parenthood and equally having some stimulation away from your children.
Posted in Mummy and working
Good news ladies! A recent study carried out by Randstad has found that UK employees want to see more women employed in management positions. Very positive findings in that it is believed women would increase performance across companies.
This said, over a third of employees firmly believe that their employers would continue to choose male candidates even though there were equally suitable men and women who could perform the same job at a management level.
Interestingly, even though the findings recognised that women managers were much needed, only 15% would prefer a woman over a man as their manager. Only just over a quarter of women would want to work predominantly with females, leaving the remaining figure preferring to work with men.
These are really interesting gender dynamics as on one hand we want to promote and identify more senior women and then the findings suggest that the preferences of working for men still remains….
It has been found in a study carried out by supplement brand Haliborange, that many working mothers are forced to send their children to school when they are sick, as they simply can’t take time off work. Four out of ten mothers have made this decision when faced with the pressure not being able to take time off.
Sadly, 1 in 6 of mums have expressed the “guilt” that has been placed upon them from their employers after taking time off to look after their poorly child. From 2000 women who assisted in the study, one in ten had actually received a written warning from their boss based on their actions. This adds further stress to working mums when they also feel they could potentially lose their job. 27% of the mums felt this.
In many situations the mother is automatically “expected” to stay at home when their children are ill rather than pass the responsibility to the father. Single mothers have no choice here but to make the decision to send them to school or take time off and feel those pressures.
Mounting work loads and also negative moans from colleagues adds to 19% of mums worries. Over 80% of the women questioned highlighted that work colleagues without children couldn’t appreciate how difficult it is to juggle work and children need time off because they are ill. Some women had to even forfeit pay for their time off.
As a working mum I have felt an enormous pressure in my previous career to keep the plates spinning when my child was ill and a decision had to be made by me on each occasion. I did have open minded and a supportive employer at the time which eased the pressure however the guilt simply crippled me from all angles whichever decision I made.
I think women and their families are under increasing pressure at the moment with job security and some working mums financial contribution to their family is absolutely critical for their survival. It’s not all just about the work and peer pressures that contributes to the guilt and stress of being a working mum, but our economic surroundings which is placing a burden on us all.
How have you/do you manage when your child gets ill?