working woman

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A woman’s career progression is more than twice as likely to be affected by having children than men

While I consider myself lucky to have been so involved in the early stages of my children’s lives, I know for many women in business, being the primary caregiver feels a little like double-edged sword. It’s no secret that a woman’s career progression is more than twice as likely to be affected by having children than men [YouGov]. The consequence is that women are hindered from sitting among the C-suite as often as their male counterparts. Just take a look at the Fortune 500 2022 list of the most profitable businesses in the US: only 8.8% (44 total) of CEOs were female.

I founded Rubies in the Rubble almost 10 years ago and have had three children since. I’ve experienced first-hand the challenges of trying to balance work and family life through their various stages. Being ambitious for business and loving being a mother is a hard combination, therefore I’m passionate about creating a work environment and systems in which a primary caregiver can thrive.

The future of work needs to be sustainable to fit individuals’ changing lifestyle needs. Great businesses have great cultures and are made up of fulfilled teams that fully represent society. Therefore, working with your team and their ever-changing needs keeps your business growing with the team – reducing people churn and training too.

The new, very welcomed, and hopefully mainstream business model, focused on hybrid working and flexible hours, will break down some of the old barriers created by rigid work hours and office commutes for primary caregivers to thrive. I found the hardest time for working women with children was pre-school age – I don’t know anyone who can survive on statutory maternity pay alone, and post six weeks, what then? This isn’t something that can be addressed purely by a company alone. We need governments to better support SMEs to help their employees through these times.

To most small businesses it becomes almost impossible to properly support the primary caregiver through this. The government needs to better support businesses, especially startups, in enabling their workforce through this time, otherwise the appeal of SME businesses to potential family makers is a tough one. Increasing the statutory amount as well as making it available to both males and females might remove the assumption of an employer that a newlywed woman in her 30s might soon be needing time off.

At Rubies, as well as flexible hours and hybrid work models, we use blind applications for hiring – meaning no age, gender, ethnicity, or education is seen by the hiring manager in the first stage of applications. The aim of this is to reduce unconscious bias during the hiring process.

If someone can get the job done, that’s all we need to be concerned with