Question of the week #7

6a00d8345200d669e2017d3c4bb6eb970c-800wiI am in the process of gearing up for the Women’s
Entrepreneur Festival in January.  This year’s
theme is “Getting down to Business”. 
This question is one that will be one of our panels this year,
reinventing myself, which could also be reentry into the workplace.  With that in mind, here is this week’s
question.

You often address the
difficulty for women/mothers to on-ramp back into the workforce. What/who do
you see as the reason for the difficulty? Is it companies operating under
antiquated notions, requiring workers be present in the office and work 8-5? Do
they envision the time spent at home as an atrophy of skills?

This
is such a layered topic.  Many women
never want to leave the workplace but find themselves leaving it because the
companies that they are working with are not willing to be flexible with their
new found family.  For those who can not
leave and have to just conform to a companies same expectations prior to having
a family, their world becomes even more difficult and frustrating.  Some companies are willing to let women work
a 3-day week paying them a significant amount less even though we all know that
they are probably doing the exact same job they did in 5 days.  That doesn’t feel good either. 

I
believe if a woman wants to continue working through those years when the kids
are young or even teens, it is imperative that companies figure out how to
create environments that work for everyone. 
Happier women and happier workplaces make for happier families, better
economies and a more successful outcome for everyone involved.  

I am
not so sure that the standard 8-5 workplace is the future of business as we
become a more virtual world.  That if you
are happy and challenged in your job then you will do what needs to be done every
day regardless of punching a clock.  Then
there are jobs where we are building products that are more streamlined as 8-hour
workdays and those companies need to figure out how to maintain working mothers
in a positive way as they physically need to be there.

Then
there is the woman who makes a conscious decision to get off the train for a
while and stay home to raise a family. 
There is a whole different set of issues here.  Even getting involved in the school system
there is the “working moms” and the “stay-at-home moms” that creates a weird
division.  It shouldn’t but it does.  It is so hard to re-enter the workplace in
the same spot where you opted out.  Many
of the women who decided to stay home are used to a different kind of job where
they have full autonomy using a different set of skill sets managing a
household and raising children.  Once the
kids are in school full time or even some wait until their kids go to college,
many women don’t want to go back to the 8 hour grind.  They want to do something but they want to
maintain the flexibility that they are used to. 

It
isn’t easy for a woman no matter which road they choose.  Each road has compromises both good and
bad.  I am investor in Catchafire that
posts a variety of short-term jobs from non-profit organizations that
volunteers can apply for through their database.  That is one way to jump into the game
slowly.  Certainly starting your own
company is another.  Going to Meet-ups
that are geared towards verticals that interest you.  You might meet someone who needs your
skills.  If you have the means, figure
out how to invest in companies that could use your knowledge and your
cash.  Go to conferences to learn of possible
ways to re-enter a work force under your own set of rules. 

Bottom
line, children come at a certain time of a woman’s life and it happens to be in
the midst of most peoples career.  Some
put their careers on hold, others keep moving forward.  No matter what road you choose, it is not
easy and I am not so sure it ever will be. 
If companies were more flexible and understanding of families with the
desire to retain smart women through those years, then everyone would be a lot
better off….and studies have shown that when there is a solid gender balance at
every level of management of a company including the top echelons, there is a
much higher rate of success.

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