Updated: Jul 5
This is something that I am getting really fed up with.
It makes me grind my teeth when I see any reference to it or suggestion of it.
But I see it time and time again.
“Mums need flexibility!”
Let’s be clear about this. Working flexibly is NOT a Mum's issue. Or a woman's issue.
It is an issue that belongs to and affects EVERYONE.
By making it a Mum's issue only, you are making it a problem for about 35-40% of the adult population. i.e. a minority. What’s worse is that you appear forward-thinking whilst further pigeonholing Mums into the lead parent role.
Why can’t Dads work flexibly as well? If both parents could work flexibly, it would enable Mums, assuming they decided to take time out of their careers to be a full-time parent, to get back to work sooner and easier.
Imagine a scenario with both parents working four-day weeks, two days remote with flexi-time, enabling both Mum and Dad to take equal responsibility and to be both the parent and the professional they want to be.
Include the Dads, and make it a majority of people who want flexibility, pushing companies and the government into making it a reality for parents everywhere.
But let’s not forget those caring for elderly or sick loved ones. Why should they be left out? Surely they need flexibility just as much as a parent?
I have spoken to a number of carers who requested flexibility from their employer, something simple like working from home one day a week so they could avoid the commute and spend more time with their loved one, but this was turned down.
What a difference it would make for them to have hybrid, flexitime or time-shift.
What about those returning after recovering from life-threatening illnesses like cancer or life-changing injuries?
We’ve worked with cancer survivors who now have different priorities, and they want to have more time to do the things they love.
We’ve worked with people who have lost limbs and, whilst enjoying a full-time job, don’t want to commute at peak periods, so a simple time shift (e.g. 7-3 instead of 9-5) makes a real difference.
Recent stats have shown that more than 95% of the LGBTQ+ community would like to work flexibly. Not necessarily because they have children, but because they want to work to live – and enjoy living!
I could go on and on. And on.
The point I am trying to make is that flexible working belongs to everyone, regardless of their circumstances. Give everyone the chance to decide what type of flexibility, if any, would work for them.
Allow, enable and insist that the issue belongs to everyone, and suddenly 95% of the workforce want it, and it becomes a non-discussion. If so many people put their hand up and demand it, then flexible work will become a reality for everyone much sooner than if we keep pretending this is something that just Mums need.
And then we all benefit.