The trouble with motherhood
I was talking to a colleague the other day about the challenges that women in business face.
The conversation eventually got round to the point that while many senior businesswomen often face a tough time juggling the demands of work and motherhood (however much we may try to convince ourselves otherwise, in the majority of cases women still take on the majority of childcare responsibilities), when they get into influential positions where they can do something about it, they often don’t.
We’ve all heard the Ruth Leas of this world complain about over-generous maternity leave and some female SME owners will openly admit that they won’t employ women of childbearing age.
The question is, do women who run businesses have a duty to try to actively change these attitudes from the inside? If they don’t lead by example, who will?
There are good reasons why employers need to help their female employees tackle the challenges of work and motherhood:
• Female employees give organisations an insight into the perspective of potential female consumers, who have a lot of spending power.
• More and more academic research is showing that female leadership skills are more conducive to today’s global business environment, which requires buy-in, diplomacy, consensus, understanding and relationship-building.
• We’re facing a pensions crisis. The number of pensioners is increasing while the size of the workforce, which is funding their pensions, is decreasing. Would more women have had more children if it weren’t so difficult to work and be a mother? (Simplistic, I know, but it’s worth thinking about.)
• Falls in birth rates mean we’re squeezing our talent pool, robbing employers of the opportunity to get the best person for the job.
There are plenty of other reasons. Isn’t it time that ALL businesses stopped seeing parenthood less as a problem and more as an opportunity? Senior businesswomen can do much to make that happen.