Women Like Us is a the social enterprise recruitment service that specialises in matching women with children and a wish to work flexibly or part-time to available jobs. Yesterday, they were in the news having published a survey of 1,000 UK companies funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. It revealed that the market for part time jobs is “skewed strongly” in favour of vacancies that offer less than £20,000 as a FTE (full time equivalent) salary. In fact, they found that only 3% of part time roles offer £20,000 or more.
Women Like Us says that the current lack of ‘quality’ part time working opportunities is ‘capping’ the kind of jobs that skilled mothers can apply for and prevent many more from finding work at all:
“Thousands of mothers, who need part time work to fit with family face a ‘career choke’ – the dead-end choice between trading down on their skills and experiences to accept a role beneath their level of worth, and not working at all. The lack of quality part time jobs has a particular impact on lower skilled mothers who face intense competition from higher skilled women competing for the same jobs.”
They also said that “employers that have had experience of recruiting part time members of staff are very positive about the business benefits, which include cost efficiency and access to a wider candidate pool.”
There are currently 15 people employed by Nosy Crow. Seven of us work part time, or work flexible hours, often to fit around childcare (and, in one case, to fit around supporting an elderly relative). Two of those seven are men, the rest are women. Some work one or more days a week from home. Several other people, some of them women who are parents, provide part-time freelance services to us.
I’ve been working in publishing for – ahem – 25 years now, and, in the many years in which I’ve been in a position to do so, I’ve employed part-time workers, many of them mothers. In the early days, I was faced with having people return to work part-time or not at all, but I found my experience of working with part-time workers was a positive one: I got access to skills and contacts often honed over years and also got loyalty and hard-work. In return, I had to be understanding when people couldn’t attend evening events, work late or travel without pre-arranging it.
When I set up Nosy Crow, it was part of our plan to seek out people who had left the world of corporate work, or who wanted to do so, to offer them a more child-friendly and flexible experience.
I also recognise the benefits of being a parent when you’re publishing books and apps for children, and explored the subject in this blog post about being a finalist in the Mumpreneur Awards Newcomers category (in fact, I went on to win the Inspiring Business Mum of the Year award.)
So what does all this mean day-to-day? Well, here’s an example: Steph, who works full time, but flexibly around her childcare arrangements, is working incredibly hard at the moment finishing things off for the Bologna Book Fair next week (we wrote about preparing for last year’s fair here) so it’s hard for her to take any time off. This morning, her daughter wasn’t feeling well enough to go to school, so Steph brought her into work with her. (That’s them in the photo above.)
And that’s fine by us.
We like children.
And we value their parents.