This Mother’s Day we want to celebrate the mums who are juggling parenthood and work.
Beehive’s SME State of MENA report showed that 38% of senior positions were held by women in the region. Whilst still unbalanced, this is higher than the global average of 29%. A reason for the bias towards men in senior positions could be down to the career gap women take to have children. It can be hard to get back into work after a few years out. This point is addressed by Kate Midttun, Founder and MD of Acorn Strategy, an award-winning marketing agency, who have an 80% female workforce largely due to their flexible working options. Kate sees the benefits of women who are re-entering the workforce after maternity and believes SMEs can play a part in helping their career journey. Here’s what she has to say:
“We see that women who are looking to re-enter the workforce lack confidence and quite often settle for a job that requires less experience than they have. In my experience, this is quite often because of a perception that the workforce must have changed significantly in their absence. The truth is quite often the opposite, they have learned valuable new soft skills that complement their trained professional skills that make them great candidates for roles, albeit with some consideration required to ease them back into the workforce.
“Companies that succeed recognise the valuable contribution of a balanced workforce and the immense benefit of not only considering working mums and dads re-entering the workforce, but will also give them the support they need to do so.
“If we look at models internationally, there are many programmes around maternity leave that include “contact days” so those on maternity and paternity leave can check in with their employer and understand what’s happening in the workplace. The employer also has the chance to understand and connect with their employee who has just gone through a major life event outside of work. In an expat environment where workforce quite often become pseudo-family, it’s surprising how little consideration there is for this in our current workplace practices.
“Furthermore, there are companies in unique positions of growth who could greatly benefit from taking on employees who are re-entering the workforce after a break. These companies have the opportunity to shape an employee's career growth, include regular milestones, and allow the employee to move at a comfortable pace whilst being recognised for it. Within the region, it’s the responsibility of SMEs to challenge the perceptions and break regional-norms that are inhibiting growth, this is an area where we can make immediate impact.”