Career Woman

Drive your career forward while also having a family

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Research shows that women are proven to be better workplace leaders than men, but continue to be underrepresented and underutilised in organisations.

Experts have linked this to a variety of reasons, and a primary reason is based on a woman’s perception that they have to take a back seat from driving their career from the very moment they consider planning a family until an average of five years (and at least two children) later, when many decide to make a full return to the workforce.

Of course, some women may prefer to take a step back during this time, however many others who have a desire to further develop their career struggle to find a way to do so. This creates a huge bottleneck in the talent pipeline where a significant number of exceptionally talented and skilled women find that they have slipped behind, needing to upskill to simply hold the job title they once had, with little or no chance of catching up to their colleagues who have increased their skills and moved up the corporate ladder in the meantime.

Many calls are being made for employers to embrace flexibility to overcome this problem by offering a shorter working week, greater job sharing opportunities, flexible working hours and the ability to work from home, as well as providing support for women such as maternity coaching. A great example of this is Telstra, which was the first major Australian company to include flexibility provisions in all new advertised positions through the All Roles Flex program in order to encourage more women to apply and in support of family friendly practices.

In addition to this however, it can be argued that the solution doesn’t only lie with the employer. Women can tackle this situation head on and lead their career success, regardless of their family plans. The Diversity Council Australia’s ‘Working for the Future’ research shows that parents/care-givers were more likely to feel positive about their job, less likely to intend to leave and made better managers.

With first hand experience as a working mum and a successful business woman, one of the most rewarding elements of my career is leading regular working women’s forums and also working one-on-one with other working mums to help them drive successful careers.

The statistics show us that women make great leaders and what’s important to remember is that you don’t need to be the CEO of a company to be an exceptional leader. Research also shows us that working mums are a safe bet for businesses. Regardless of the position you are working in, it is possible to maintain momentum and minimise the impact that having a family can often have – but shouldn’t have – when it comes to your career progression.

Many companies believe that it is too hard to embrace flexibility and this is a major problem that needs to be addressed immediately. There is a massive pool of talent that is not being tapped into if companies aren’t willing to offer flexible working arrangements.

Over my 30 year career I have seen working mums achieve unprecedented success in their workplaces while also ensuring that their family remains a priority. It is the companies that back and support their talented mums that see the results flow through the entire business. rogenSi is a fantastic example of this and I experienced this first hand when I was promoted while on maternity leave. We also recently advertised two positions that offered flexible working hours allowing for school pick up and drop off; an accounting and an admin role. We were blown away by the number and quality of responses we received and had to cut it off at 500 applications per position!

It is also important for women to remember that they can drive their own success and lead the charge for more suitable working arrangements within their workplaces.

Nikki’s top tips for women to drive their career forward while also having a family

1. Believe in yourself: be confident in your ability and the value you bring to the company. The last rogenSi Global Mindset Index survey of male and female employees worldwide showed that one of the most limiting factors for women was their level of self-belief (women 58% vs men 64%).

2. If you desire, put your hand up and continue to drive your career until the very moment you leave to have a child. Just because maternity leave may be on the horizon you are just as entitled as everyone else to secure that next promotion.

3. Join the push for companies to embrace flexibility: make it easy for your employer to want to make it work for you. Use the negotiation skills you use with your husband/toddler with your employer! Explain to them that work and career is still important to you.

4. Don’t apologise and feel the guilt: if you have a flexible working arrangement, you are entitled to it! For example, don’t apologise for having to leave the office to pick your child up from school or watch their soccer match. If you don’t believe that you are entitled to this you will take on the guilt and show it in your behavior. This will also make others question your entitlements.

5. Know your limit and be present: carefully manage your time at work. Be realistic in your expectations when it comes to the amount of work you can get through. This will help you to ensure that you are present during the time you spend at home with your children, not still worrying about work instead of spending quality family time together.

6. Understand that there’s no such thing as perfection: while it is great to strive for excellence, it can be unrealistic to aim for perfection and this is not essential. For example, research shows that great business leaders are much better off by focusing on developing two-three of their key leadership strengths than worrying about their weaknesses.

 

About Nikki Hobin

Nikki Hobin is an expert coach, trainer, facilitator and Principal, Asia Pacific for rogenSi. She specialises in helping individuals, teams and organisations unlock their potential and transform their business performance to achieve exceptional outcomes and results.Nikki does this through executive coaching, pitch consulting, strategic communication, new business development, strategy alignment and sales & leadership execution.In her role as lead of Exceptional Women in Business, Nikki hosts events, facilitates sessions and is a key note speaker on topics related to gender diversity. With first-hand experience asa successful business woman, one of the most rewarding elements of Nikki Hobin's career is leading regular working women’s forums and also working one on one with women to help them drive successful careers.

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