You may or may not know my history, my story, my journey to the place I find myself in today. It’s not straightforward and its littered with questionable choices, terrible outfits and a frequent lack of direction. One thing that has always remained though was my propensity for hard bloody work. I’m a Yorkshire lass and, quite simply, you’re not allowed to be a Yorkshire lass unless you’re a grafter. From my first job at 13 right up until the job I do today, I’ve always given it my all and I’ve always worked. I took it for granted that I would always be able to do that, if I wanted to…not anymore.
Tomorrow, Anna Whitehouse a.k.a Mother Pukka will be hosting a flash mob in Trafalgar Square as part of her #FlexAppeal campaign. Finally, people are starting to sit up and listen – the BBC will be there, as will Gloria Hunniford (well, why not?) and the newspapers are splashing it across their papers too. In short, Anna is singlehandedly shaking up the system. She’s calling bullshit on the traditional (and patriarchal) 9-5pm work system we have in place and she’s starting to get heard. I have no problem with calling her the Emmeline Pankhurst of the Insta-age that we live in. She’ll have a problem with it I’m sure…but essentially she’s a motherfunking game changer.
It’s not ok that women are being unceremoniously dumped from the work force after hoofing a Small out. I don’t care what your politics are or what your views on equality are there’s little that you can say to defend this reality. Women don’t make the decision to have children by themselves. They are only one half of the parenting team. Unfortunately (or fortunately…) they are also the only half that can physically grow the human and nurse the human and there’s no reason why they should be penalised for this.
This in itself seems to be enough to impose upon mothers the sole responsibility for raising children forever more but we know that the millennial generation are sharing parenting in a way never seen before. We also know that there’s very little to impede a successful working career that isn’t confined to a specific office and specific times so why are women still finding it difficult to maintain a career in the face of motherhood?
I get it. Companies are scared. Companies that are operating in the old-fashioned way are nervous about opening the flexible-working floodgates. Why wouldn’t they be? Offer flexible working to one mother and you have to offer it to them all; offer it to all mothers and you have to offer it to all employees. That’s a terrifying prospect and requires more than a little forethought and planning and probably a shit load of money and time spent on putting all the bureaucracy into place. But, get this…there isn’t a company I know of that regrets offering flexible working.
Go to Mother Pukka’s blog for the stats and figures and facts but trust me when I tell you, it’s a win-win for all parties. What I want to remind companies of is this: all those brilliant, talented women (who happen to be parents…to use Anna’s phrase) discarded by a brutal addiction to old-skool working methods are there, ready, waiting and in some cases desperate to throw their talent and kick-assery your way in return for a regular pay packet if you could only take a leap of faith and work with them to figure out a working relationship that suits for both parties.
Over at Hustle+Fox we work with mothers every single day who, upon realising that work didn’t fit with motherhood, have launched their own companies. They are smart, intelligent, creative, confident and powerful women and any employer would be lucky to have them. As it is, we get to meet them and work with them and even hire some of them and you know what? It doesn’t matter when they do the work or where they do the work. As long as they hit the deadline and the work is good, they could do it at 4am from the car park of Sainsbury’s as far as I’m concerned but I realise this isn’t the case for every profession. But for a lot of them it is possible and, frankly, it’s shameful that we’re still protesting this shit in 2017.
With all this in mind, you’ll find myself and my business partner Gayle at Trafalgar Square tomorrow flash mobbing the shit out of life. We’ll be standing next to women we know and love, women we’ve never met, women who we may never meet again…and we’ll be fighting for their right to work a job they are bloody good at.
See you there?