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Why Can't Women Have It All?

In the recruitment industry hours are often long and unsociable. When I started my company, Ainsley Morgan Appointments, in 1996 the right to request flexible working was still seven years away. There was no flexibility in the industry at the time. This is partly why I set up on my own, to allow myself to keep work and parenting in balance.

Why should women have to forfeit an aspect of their lives when they have children? I found this extremely unfair, I didn’t want to make the choice; I still had a lot to give to my career. Understandably, not every female has the ability or desire to set up a company but for me it was the only option.

Although there is no denying that the parental rights have improved, legislation still remains very unbalanced, limiting people’s choices of care. If a man were to request a year’s paternity leave it is likely that he would be out of a job. For fathers, they are only entitled to 26 weeks additional paternity leave against a woman’s 52 weeks. What does this achieve to support working women?

Women in certain high-profile roles do have to choose their career over children if they want to succeed. Professional people would not be able to leave work early to care for their children. Is it fair to these women that in order to thrive they have to compete as men? These women either forego family life all together, which many men in similar roles experience, as undoubtedly their wife is solely responsible for the children, or if the parent’s salary supports a nanny, they run the risk of their children being nurtured by a non-family member.

Being an employer myself I see that my staff work better if they are not worrying about their child, which is why I strongly endorse flexible working. I think in the industry recruiters should be more open-minded about what a valued employee can achieve within a slightly shorter working day based at the office. I would not hastily reassign knowledgeable employees from high profile clients because they have children to consider. Within my employer’s role I have not filled many part-time jobs with men; they are usually always mums. What is wrong with the women being the breadwinner?

I would always encourage business women with children to take a leap of faith if they wanted to start their own business or carry on working, because it is achievable. For single parents returning to work who require full-time care [for their children], the government should initiate an eligibility criteria whereby they pay less tax if above a certain proportion of their salary goes towards childcare.

This would make the decision to return to work easier for many who may otherwise rely on benefits. I think the most crucial age span for a mother and child is the time up to seven years old. After this time it becomes easier to leave children with other family members or a reliable support network, paid or unpaid, is very important if you work full time.

Technology nowadays supports the role of parents to work from home, reducing the need for the office. The UK’s culture of long working hours should capitalise more on the resources we have on offer. Also it would be important to incite fewer stigmas attached to working within contracted hours. Efficiency and time management is something that goes hand in hand.

I think there needs to be more flexible, realistic, on-going benefits, as well as a change in expectations for men and women. A shift is still needed that supports a modern family, so that in 2011 a mother’s role isn’t predominately to stay at home holding the baby, unless she so wishes. Equally, a man should be entitled to take paternity leave without sacrificing his job if it best supports the family unit.

This article was Published in the Recruiter magazine 30th November 2011

Tagged: Women, Men, Children, Career

Written By: Ainsley Morgan On: 5th Dec 11

Very helpful and friendly staff, great knowledge of the company and what the job involved, kept in touch throughout- good communication. Placed me into a job where I was very keen in going into, and overall a very pleasant and pleasing experience throughout!.Carmen K. - Candidate March 2010