I am SO envious of my neighbour. She works from home most days and goes into the office only when she has meetings. Sure, she has to “conference call” with her boss and colleagues in the evenings and work after her kids are in bed. But she is home most days for her children and her workload is arranged around her children’s schedules. She could even plan her family vacations to coincide with her professional trips! Flexible timing, work satisfaction, and she gets PAID for it!! Yes, I’m drooling (excuse me). So, when an invitation to attend a “Flexiwork Mums Mingling Session with Employers” came along last Friday, I jumped at it.
A joint event organized by Elynn Liew of Career Mums and Sher-Li Torrey of Mums@Work, the session aims to open the channel of communication between mothers and employers who are open to a flexible working arrangement. The second year running, Elynn reports that there were more participants this year than last. 185 mothers attended and there were over 60 others on the waiting list. 55 percent of these mothers had over 10 years of working experience. While they come from a wide spectra of industries, most of these women are from the accounting, banking, human resources, IT and marketing/branding sectors.
Employers Are Open To Flexiwork
When I arrived, the “mingling session” was in full swing. Over 30 companies had signed up to meet these mothers. It was gratifying to see some big names on board – OCBC, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Pinstripe Business Solutions, Singapore Academy of Law, Ernst & Young Solutions LLP, Caterpillar Asia just to name a few. There were also a number of headhunting firms like Adecco Personnel, Flexecute and DSS Pte Ltd.
Sher-Li shares that employers recognised that it is not about the number of hours an employee puts in; it’s about the productivity of the employee. “It was good to network with so many people who are looking for flexi-options. I hope to find some new recruits here today,” says Lynn Koh from ON24 Pte Ltd, a service provider of virtual conferencing.
Grace Lim, Head of Human Resources & Administration from HSL was very happy to meet the mothers who are interested in flexiwork. “We’ve been looking to hire mummies who want to get back into the workforce. We advertised in the Straits Times, but there was no response. Hence, it was good to meet up with mothers who are willing to telecommute.”
Marketing Manager for Mothercare, Diana Koh was also pleased at the flood of mothers at her booth. She and her colleague, HR Manager Hoe Shu Hui were kept busy fielding questions about potential work opportunities with them. Elynn also reported that the employers were impressed by the quality of mothers who presented themselves at the event; many were of “good calibre, had done their research on the company and were prepared (with CVs or business cards).”
But what did the mothers say about this event?
Carolyn Poon was formerly in strategy and consulting and had come to the mingling session to meet potential employers. The mother of two preschoolers aged 5 and 3 years old felt that “there was a good pool of resources and this was a very good initiative.” Most of the mothers I spoke to including Celeste Lim, agree that there were opportunities that could be explored. Others, like Karen and Genevieve were looking to get back in to the industries they left when they started their family.
As for myself, I was happy to land a few leads with certain employers that could lead to potential working opportunities. And even happier to know that the sentiments of employers are changing to favour flexible working arrangements – not just administration type work, but full professional services. I’m also gratified to know that there is support available for mothers towards this goal. So, if you’re interested in a flexible working arrangement, click on the links of the organizations and companies in this article for leads and assistance. But nothing beats a good networking session such as this one, where you can have actual face-to-face time to promote yourself to the relevant persons.
I’ve found that Freelancers Singapore Meetup and Toastmasters Clubs are good avenues to meet, network and garner support for your cause. Finally, keep looking and share with us if you have other leads that are not covered here, because it is only through networking and support that we can motivate a change for ourselves.