4 March 2019 | Simi Gandhi-Whittaker
Simi Gandhi-Whitaker says companies should do more to improve work-life balance for working mothers.
Nevertheless, since the birth of my first child I have become even more determined to live unlabelled. Juggling mum and work life with more sleepless nights, I am impatient to get on, pursuing a successful career, supporting others in my position, and being a positive role model to my little girl and the women who come after me.
When I returned to EMCOR UK after maternity leave I asked for a flexible contract with compressed hours, which the company happily granted. But I've met many wonderful career mums who were surprised - a shocking eye-opener that my set-up isn't the norm.
Many working mothers I've spoken to end up employed on reduced-hours contracts, with commensurably less pay, but end up working full-time to achieve career demands.
Juggling career and family life can be problematic, resulting in feeling guilty about not spending enough quality time with children. No wonder many women burn out and choose to be full-time parents instead.
While I'm grateful to work for a company that takes family-friendly benefits seriously, I refuse to feel lucky - surely this is my right? Wouldn't any forward-thinking business want to attract the best talent and do the best for their staff?
Employers need to allow us all to work effectively and efficiently without compromising the work-life balance. My daughter's birth has made this long-running debate feel 'real' to me. More must be done if our children's generation is to escape being defined as a label and the discouraging expectations that can still restrict their mothers' career opportunities.
Simi Gandhi-Whitaker is work winning director at EMCOR UK