Randstad’s own Marie-Noëlle Morency recently sat down with Tellent founder and entrepreneur, Jennifer Hargreaves, to discuss some of the most pressing issues women are facing in their workplaces today. From their thoughts on why women seek out flexible work more than men, to their discussion about the merits of results-focused work, to whether they believe men and women should share parental leave, there are some great insights worth checking out.
on why women seek out flexible work
Marie-Noëlle Morency: Do you think women feel that their current workplaces don’t offer enough opportunities for flexible work? Or that traditional corporate workplaces don’t offer enough flexibility?
Jennifer Hargreaves: What it comes down to is that opportunities for women in the workplace have evolved faster than our traditional societal expectations on gender. Ideally, we would see an evolution of both at similar speeds.
The traditional structure of work has not really evolved since the industrial era, but we want and expect more from women than ever before. We want them to work like they don’t have children and parent like they don’t work. More women are graduating from university and are entering the workforce at similar levels to men.
We're expected to lead and succeed like men in the workplace but with societal expectations that come with more traditional gender roles. There's a definite disconnect here.
We recently did a survey that showed 58% of working mothers are the primary caregiver, effectively doing two full-time roles with little or no support from their partners or employers. Flexibility at work helps them to manage that double burden but a culture of flexible work will help to reduce gender bias and discrimination and will ultimately lead to equity at work.
Looking at our survey data, only 2% of men are the primary caregiver, so you can imagine 98% of men have support in their home life and that allows them to go out and get into leadership positions. So we see this as a huge gap in what women can actually contribute to work and to the economy.
on whether work-life balance is an illusion
MNM: So you'll probably agree when I say, ‘work-life balance is an illusion’? Because we're trying very hard to handle the two, but realistically, it's not possible without having flexible arrangements or without having some kind of flexibility. It’s not true that you can perfectly balance the two and you’re going to be successful at both without having some kind of flexibility, correct?
JH: Well, you’ve opened up a can of worms here, Marie-Noëlle.
I think that how you feel about your work and your family
It's my sincere belief that you have control over the decisions you make
The key, in my
on the merits of results-based work models
MNM: Can you tell us a bit about how some organizations are looking into the ROWE model, which is a new approach that allows for more flexible arrangements. It’s based on results - it means Results Only Work Environment. How could this be a game-changer in the workplace?
JH: So, ROWE, as you said, stands for
In Canada, there are a few companies that have adopted and gone through the training to become officially ROWE certified but other organizations are adopting their own versions of results-based work environments.
It is certainly a model that I use in my business and with more and more companies that I
This focus on results is going to become even more important as access to desired talent and skills become more challenging.
on men sharing in childcare responsibilities
MNM: Another trend we’re seeing is men taking on more parental duties. They’re taking more weeks of parental leave. Is this something you see as well? That more dads are sharing parental leave with their partners? Which can really help women reduce the burden of thinking, ‘well I'm taking the full year and then I'm going to have to prove myself in my work again when I come back.’ So it’s helping in terms of equity to have men share more of the parental leave and become more familiar with what it is to raise and manage a baby. Do you see that trend?
JH: I do and it's something I'm super excited about. Yes, we are starting to see more and more companies start to implement parental leave policies including specific support for fathers. Personally, I’m seeing more men in the schoolyard and walking around carrying their children in front packs, which I think is amazing.
MNM: I truly believe this is another game changer and that we're moving in the right direction. Would you say you’re positive about where it’s going?
JH: I think it's a wonderful thing across so many levels. Fathers also want to take time off and it's not only good for their relationship with their kids and their spouses but it’s really going to help evolve more traditional gender roles and reduce biases in the workforce.
In a recent
Only 40% of working mothers successfully transition that load into a shared responsibility when they go back to work. I believe that increased access and uptake of paternity leave will see that number increase and allow more women to thrive at work and reduce the biases, conscious or not, that
MNM: I totally agree. I'm experiencing that myself the second time around. It’s been useful in how my husband experiences parenthood. I’m looking forward to sharing