We turn 7 years old in a week’s time.
When Mums@Work started in 2010, I had no idea where we would go – how we would grow, what we would be able to do and how we can make a difference.
DON’T JUST INSPIRE. MAKE THINGS HAPPEN.
In the last 7 years, we have done a whole range of events and activities. My team has grown, shrunk, grown, and changed. Some things we did, we succeeded. Some things we did, we failed. But we kept going.
Through every event – workshop, career fair, training session, Mumpreneur bazaar, trade fair, networking morning, learning tea…..I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet women from all walks of life.
Many of our member-mums are women who, at the height of the career, chose to start a family or take on more significant care-giving roles. Due to various reasons (sometimes by choice, sometimes by situation), they opt to rearrange their priorities, to allow ‘life’ to take on a bigger role.
That’s where Mums@Work comes in. We list flexible work arrangements, support Mumpreneur “Start a biz from home” ideas, provide coaching/ counselling/ guidance and offer actual recruitment events, that help these women.
UP OR OUT. REALLY?
Over the last 7 years, I have been asked to comment (again and again) if “women can have it all.” At public talks, media interviews and even at ‘inspire-young-female-talent” seminars, I am asked the same question “How do we do it? How can we find the integrated life that we seek? How can I fulfill my career dreams and still be the wonderful mother, wife and daughter?”.
I, unfortunately, never could give an honest answer to this question.
The truth is – there is no magical solution. It’s not about YOU alone. As women, we cannot find the work-family balance we need, simply by going out there to fix one part of our lives and expect the rest to fall in place. (I am sure, strong supporters of the Lean-In movement will disagree with me). But that’s the truth. There is no magical formula. There is no “simply go up to your boss and ask for flexibility”. It’s not merely telling our husbands “Let’s partner up in parenting so we can both continue to pursue the career path we seek.”. Neither is it just “if I believe I have balance, I will” positive thinking.
It’s a complicated web of decisions and thought processes, a mother needs to make, in order for the entire situation to work out.
For the women I have met who admit they have achieved “some sort of balance” – they share that it’s a combination of changes that they make. Expectations are managed (“honey, I may not earn as much any more, so you have to contribute a little more to the household income”. “Boss, I still want to excel in my job, but that means I may not do the full role at this stage in my life.” “Kids, I am going to be here with you whenever I can. But there will be times when mummy needs to work. And I LOVE work, so please understand.”). When these elements come together, coupled with a positive affirmation of “I am doing this well – the best that I can.”, that is when there is a chance of success.
NOT FOR FAME, FORTUNE OR PRIDE. BUT FOR LOVE, WISDOM & FULFILLMENT.
In the last 7 years, I have slowly stopped saying that we can help women find work-family balance. No organization (government, private business, NGO, Union group, Social enterprise) can ever promise that. The journey of finding balance is so personal and so much more complex than merely a one-sentence mission statement.
However, as a community of mothers and a social enterprise, we have the ability to keep pushing for change. We have the opportunities to influence thought patterns and advice on better working systems. We also have the chance to provide the tools that help a woman succeed.
Some of the greatest joys I’ve had in the last 7 years, is getting honest, candid sharing from our member-mums. With more than 34,000 members, I do not know every one of the ladies in our community. But when any member comes forward to say hi and offer words of encouragement, they remind us why we exist. The mother who comes up to us at a career fair to say “Thank you for starting Mums@Work. I found a job from your portal 3 years ago.”. The lady, who having searched for a job for more than 5 years, sharing her feedback about a “meet-the-employer” private session: “You have no idea how much confidence this event gives me. Thank you.”
Perhaps we cannot find a job for every single woman in our database, but to know that we can touch lives and we can make a difference is what drives us to keep going.
Change can only happen if we keep going out there and taking action. It can only happen if we put heart into our work.
As we welcome the next 7 years of our existence (and more), I have no doubt that we will continue to push boundaries in the field of having inclusive workplaces for women.
More importantly, I want Mums@Work to continue to be a source of hope (and real opportunities) for the women who have chosen to focus on the ‘life-bucket’ of family.
No one should ever be marginalized because they choose care & love over work. No one.
Happy 7th Birthday Mums@Work members!
We exist, because you do.