“I’m sorry but we are looking for someone with less personal commitments”
In my real life I’m a freelance Consultant and this is just one of the recent responses I’ve had in looking for another contract to work alongside my current one.
With Miss MIP being settled at school I’m looking to pick up another 8-12 hours per week and I’ve been asked in roundabout ways by most agencies and companies if I have any children, how old I am, if I intend on having more children and had my commitment to working as a parent questioned at every turn. It feels like my experience and enthusiasm to work doesn’t really matter and once they find out I’m a parent I’m somehow seen as less of an option or somehow less committed. You and I know people aren’t allowed to ask those questions but we all know those questions are always asked one way or another.
This is frustrating – because we made the choice to become parents I should just accept that my 10+ years of experience aren’t good enough and I should just accept the step back and be grateful for what I’ve got? Why should I – why should I settle?
All parents will tell you they are the masters of multitasking – we can juggle multiple diaries, social events, household tasks, pta meetings, childcare, school holidays, laundry, meal planning, craft planning, sports day, parents evenings, christmas plays, markets, trips to the shop and days out and that’s before we’ve even touched on our professional lives.
This morning I’ve booked a BBQ for a PTA meet up, had the dishwasher fixed, got all the washing done, managed the work social media,worked on LinkedIn, had a long Skype conference call on HR and Safeguarding strategy and rewritten a contractor agreement. All before lunch and without breaking a sweat.
Employers need to face up to the fact there is an entire missing economy of parents working at home or part time with valuable skills just waiting to be accessed. We are here, we are capable and we are ready to work – you’ve just got to enable us. I’ll tell you right now – a parent with a job that is flexible for sports days and parent consultations will work their backsides off for you if you give them the chance.
So from now on I’ll only be picking up contracts with organisations who understand that my ‘personal commitments’ are part of this package and once I’m there I’ll continue to push for them to consider homeworkers, remote workers and job shares. The skills our economy needs are out there just waiting to be accessed if only more employers would reach out to them.