If you are a man and regarded as a ‘key stakeholder’ of your company then this note is for you. I hope it causes you to reflect and, if appropriate, go to work this week and elect to work on stretching your ‘comfort’ zone because if you do, you will inspire others to follow.
Last Friday I was wrapping up for the weekend and one of my last calls was to my contact in the marketing team of the recruitment arm for a global bank. I wanted to find out the outcome of their recent Board meeting and whether they had elected to work with 2to3days.
One of their strategic imperatives is to address their female talent pipeline - especially at a senior level - which they can do easily and cost-effectively by engaging with the thousands of mothers in our 2to3days community. So I was really hopeful of getting the green light.
The update I got was that they do want to work with 2to3days (which is great) BUT…. don’t we hate getting to the but! The ‘but’ was that first they needed to “work on” the predominantly “male key stakeholders” on the value of flexible working before they could take their project to market. This, they say, will take at least until the end of the year giving this particular bank only a few months before they yet again have to report on their Gender Pay gap. Previous experience tells me it will be a lot longer than that! But I remain hopeful.
It is comments like this that make my heart sink. ‘Here we go again, the same old scratched record’ is where my thoughts go, whilst the image that springs to my mind a bunch of in their suits huddled in their Boardroom caves, with various members of the HR team sent on a mission to convert them to the flexible working ‘dark side’, all looking, dare I say it, pale, male and stale.
We love you guys whatever your ethnicity, but it’s the stale bit that we want to shake off. Anything stale in my life gets chucked in the bin. As a key you need to be an inspiration to your company and challenge every aspect of the business, not be conformists to out of date thinking and action!
So, I challenge each and every one of you to stop and answer honestly this one simple question: "What have I done to help progress the performance of my company through the lens of flexible working?"
If you can hand on heart list what you have done then you are a beacon of light and we would love to hear from you.
If the answer is nothing then I challenge you to throw away your comfort blanket and instead go to your recruitment teams and say that you want to genuinely champion flexible working. If you do you will be able to hire some of the best out there to help you and your company excel.
We recently surveyed our mothers and 86% of our mothers can be highly flexible as to the hours and days they work, 77% able to attend to urgent matters out of hours. These women gave up on you once before and I bet you still miss them. Now they want to give you a second chance so don’t blow it!
Be the boss that your teams admire not secretly despair of. Be a role model to your children as they certainly won’t want to be working full time but will still want to drive success in their career.
The irony is that you don’t even have to be that radical. Just meet our mothers and let them tell you how they will do an outstanding job for you so the concerns you have disappear – the productivity won’t drop, the clients will still be happy, your team will be motivated and happy and if you have external investors you will make them smile too!
Stale or hale and hearty? It’s your call.