The idea that the ideal employee is male with no family responsibilities is outdated in this day and age. Sadly discrimination against women, and particularly women with children in the workplace is something we as South Africans experience on a daily basis.
The day-to-day reality in most homes is that the care requirements of a family lie with the Mom of the home. Whether it is the WHO and UNICEF recommended exclusive breastfeeding period of six months and supplemented breastfeeding of up to two years, early childhood development or homework assistance required in an ailing education system. Not forgetting the day to day running of the home or supporting loved ones affected or infected with illnesses such as HIV, cancer and more, most Moms take the brunt of family care.
Despite the reality of the primary care coming from the Mom in the home, most women want to remain in the workplace. In the USA a study shows that 57% of stay at home Moms wish to return to work. Not only is this good news for employers, it’s good news for society at large.
Employers take note: a growing body of research reinforces the link between diversity and above average company financial performance compared to those who don’t embrace diversity.
Research conducted by McKinsey (2017) shows that gender-diverse leadership in companies is 21% more likely to produce above-average profitability, while ethnically and culturally diverse leadership is 33% more likely to outperform.
Gender Leak in the Workplace
While legislation and social justice go some way in addressing ethnic diversity in South Africa, RecruitMyMom is offering solutions to thousands of companies to stem the “Gender Leak” by encouraging employers to provide flexible and part-time ways of working for skilled women.
The talent gap caused by Gender leak:
As for society as a whole, we can be grateful that these talented and highly skilled women are willing to remain in employment when given the right opportunity, work environment and flexible work arrangements. The skills shortage we experience in South Africa would be far worse if we had no way of attracting these women back to work.
In a 2017 study titled ‘The Martha effect” conducted by Dr Spaull & Broekhuizen from the University of Stellenbosch’s Department of Economics, they showed that women rank higher than men when it comes to completing matric and completing an undergraduate degree. (source: South Africa women much more likely to complete a degree than men)
The idea that employers continually lose these valuable skills during the family rearing years because of inflexible work arrangements is economic suicide we can ill afford.
Studies in the USA show that the mental well being of women is improved when they can work part-time.
“In all cases with significant differences in maternal well-being, such as the conflict between work and family or parenting, the comparison favoured part-time work over full-time or not working,” said lead author Cheryl Buehler, PhD, professor of human development and family studies, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. “However, in many cases, the well-being of moms working part time was no different from moms working full time.” Source: (http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2011/12/working-moms.aspx)
In summary, diversity in companies delivers financially proven results and more females will graduate from high school and tertiary institutions than males. If we as South African’s are going to take gender diversity seriously because it makes social and financial sense, rather than being politically correct, then we cannot ignore the gender leak that takes place during family-rearing years. For far too long has the gender leak been considered an inevitable inconvenience to employing women. Solutions exist to stemming the gender leak if the will exists to change. Offering flexible work arrangements is one of the most powerful solutions towards making this change.
To read more on how to implement flexible work arrangements read Essential Success Elements to implementing Flexible Work Arrangements.
About the Author : Phillipa Geard Founder and CEO of RecruitMyMom.co.za. RecruitMyMom is a national online recruitment agency that matches forward thinking employers to skilled women seeking part-time and flexible employment including lawyers, accountants, marketers, digital experts, office support and many more.