Mensch isn’t alone in finding the worlds of politics and family life don’t mix well. Former labour transport minister Ruth Kelly quit to ‘put family first’ and former shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson also left politics for ‘personal’ reasons.
The challenge of juggling senior roles and family life aren’t new and they aren’t entirely female. However, greater numbers of women than men tend to struggle. You only need to look at how few women, let alone working mothers are working at board level in FTSE companies to recognise that women face a number of challenges. Whilst we are working with several companies who are working hard to progress women to board level and improve the retention of their female talent, it is widely acknowledged that women find balancing the kind of hours and commitment required at board level with family life incredibly difficult.
A common problem is the lack of flexibility offered by companies. Even with advances in technology, many still have rigid rules about flexible working. Just this week, a report from Skype and You Gov showed that whilst 70% of employees wanted to work from home, over half of them (51%) said their companies wouldn’t allow it. Surely, with technology such as high speed internet, Skype, video conferencing and telephone conference remote working could be integrated into any working culture without impacting productivity?
If companies want to attract and retain talent at all levels, many will need to rethink their culture and introduce greater flexibility into corporate life. They will also need to remember that one size doesn’t fit all – someone will small children will have certain needs whilst another employee might have commitments looking after elderly parent or helping children through exams. All these situations are equally important and if companies are going to introduce greater flexible working, it needs to include everyone.
The bigger question here also is whether companies are doing enough to progress and support women at all levels. Have they examined if there are any barriers to progression for women in their companies? Are they losing female staff at common ‘pinch’ times such as maternity? Have they created pipelines of talented women at all levels and are they progressing them? With the right processes and support in place, corporate life and family life can mix, but it needs careful thinking and investment; it won’t happen on its own.
About Talking Talent (www.talking-talent.com)
Talking Talent are expert in helping companies manage issues around working women, including maternity and senior women in business. The principal aim of coaching is to get the best from staff, keeping them motivated and making them as productive and creative as possible. The business’ strapline is ‘valuing talented women’
Talking Talent was established by people with real industry experience and expertise, who spotted a gap in the market. The company has a proven track record with blue chip businesses, and can demonstrate higher retention rates through maternity. Established in 2005, Talking Talent has witnessed sales growth of 60-70 per cent year-on-year.
Chris has a Diploma in Clinical Organisational Psychology from INSEAD and was awarded a scholarship MBA from Imperial College London. He has been an executive coach for over 10 years and specialises in coaching senior individuals and HIPO’s.
Chris wrote his INSEAD Thesis on understanding the complex transition professional women make when they return to work after having children. The ultimate aim of his research was to find innovative ways that organisations could support women during this time, now a core area of expertise of his consultancy Talking Talent.
Chris started his career in investment banking with BZW, where he worked across Europe and Asia. He then moved into consulting with PwC and managed cross border organisational and cultural change projects. Chris' interest in leadership psychology, and helping teams and individuals realise their full potential, drew him towards executive coaching which he has been delivering for over 10 years.