Recently, I was sitting on a panel alongside three other panellists who work in large corporates. We were discussing the role of gender in cyber security. Amongst other things, we were asked “what do you do to help support women in your organisation?”.
My answer resonated with many in the audience so I thought I would share it here:
Being an organisation of one (me), there’s no issue in supporting women.
In my organisation, we support women to work when it works for them (me). For example, I work full days onsite with clients from Wednesday to Friday. On Monday and Tuesday, I work remotely in between school drop off and pick-up times so I can be with my children. If necessary I also work at 5am or 11pm those days if I’m meeting a deadline or I’m writing. This is my choice and it wouldn’t work for everyone but it works for me.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with clients who embrace my work style. Of course I’m aware of their needs too. For example, I don’t expect a Board to arrange their meeting time around me. On occasion I make concessions to support my client’s needs.
I’m committed to supporting my needs as a director, a consultant, a coach, an author, a mum, a sister, a daughter and a wife. Having said that, it is important to me that I exceed my client’s expectations so I make sure how we will work together is clear and agreed up front.
When I hire staff in the future, regardless of gender, I plan to make room to support their desired working conditions. I will trust them to get their work done and provide them an environment that allows them to live their values. That could mean they work Monday to Thursday and go fishing on a Friday. It could mean they work remotely from the coast three weeks out of four. Or, it could mean they leave early on a Wednesday to take their daughter to footy training.
Some might say I’m a dreamer to think I can run a business that allows people to set their own schedule. Some of you reading this would say that I’m just describing ‘part time’ or ‘flexible’ work conditions. But it’s more than that. It’s the willingness of clients to support my priorities, and that of my team, in order to achieve an outcome that delivers value to everyone.
It was heartening to hear the other panellists describe how their organisations support women - from great team cultures referred to as ‘making it feel like home’ to accommodating working needs. Great stories were told of big and small business doing their bit to make it easier for women to enjoy their jobs and stay in the workplace despite competing commitments. It would be great if all staff felt confident to seek and receive the conditions they need to achieve their goals – more than just being given a laptop that allows them to work into the night from their couch.
So, if you have an opportunity to better support women (and men), would you consider allowing for fishing on Fridays?