Dear business world,
I feel it’s time someone let you into a little secret, women have babies. And it’s not just a few of us. It’s not just the selfish ones, or the ones who were just looking for a short term wage packet until marrying the wealthy man of their dreams, and swanning off into the sunset with their Baby Bjorn, it’s about 80% of us. Not only that, but given that this year there were 13 female A-level students going to university for every 10 males, it’s safe to say a significant amount of highest educated sector of the workforce has babies.
Now for my next starling revelation, for the sake of humanity, we have to have them. Without babies, humans would die out and the world would be overrun by cats, or cockroaches, or some such horror film apocalypse scenario. But more apocalyptic for you, without women having babies, there would be no endless stream of brand new, shiny customers to bolster your profits with their spending power, keeping your lovely shareholders cheery, and essentially, you in a job.
To put it plainly, women have babies and you need them to.
I know it’s an inconvenience having staff members disappearing for up to a year to have these babies but you don’t have to pay us! Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for by the government, and it’s not like you aren’t given a fair chunk of notice. Generally, we don’t just call up Monday morning and say, “Hello, I’m taking a year off because I’ve just popped out a baby. Please make sure someone waters my Peace Lily and don’t let John from accounts use my stapler. Last time, he returned it without staples and it had an odd smell about it.”
Now, I know you’re canny individuals, or you wouldn’t be the success stories you all are, so I’m sure you’re expecting a little quid pro quo. Well here it is, if we are going to provide these customers for you, you need to provide something for us, and that something is flexibility.
“What sort of flexibility?” I hear you suspiciously enquire. Well, contrary to the beliefs of Apple and Facebook, this is not flexibility around when we have our babies. I know it would be much more convenient for you if we had our babies around the same time that we retire, but it really is better if we have them as naturally as possible in our twenties and thirties when we have a reasonable amount of energy to deal with them and stand a fair chance of seeing them grow up to produce little consumers of their own. Egg extraction is a fairly unpleasant experience and the statistics for women over 40 carrying babies aren’t particularly encouraging.
No, we don’t want you paying to take our eggs away and freeze them indefinitely, thanks! We’re quite happy to save you the thousands of pounds that will cost you. What we actually need is working flexibility. We need to be able to work from home from time to time, or even a lot of the time. We do after all, live in a technological world, so why can’t we work from home when your customers order from home? Why wouldn’t you want the cost savings of having five employees but only paying for desk space for four because they rotate who’s in the office and when. And don’t worry, we won’t be skiving, watching CBeebies with our little bundles of joy, because we know you’re intelligent enough to hire managers who are quite capable of working out whether your staff are getting the job done or not.
We need the flexibility of working different hours. We might want to work from 7am to 3pm, and you know what, that’s good for you too. The amount of work that gets done whilst the office is still relatively empty and there are no distractions between 7-9am is astonishing.
Not only are we more productive just by working flexibly, but it’s been proven time and time again, that your entire workforce (that’s men AND women) are generally more productive when they have a good home/work balance.
We want to come back to work for you, we really do. When that babymoon wears off and we’ve spent six months covered in sick and other bodily fluids, and have been screamed at relentlessly at all times of the day and night, believe me we want to come back. And we’re better for it, we learnt a trick or two during our time off dealing with someone who makes the most demanding of clients look like a kitten slumped out on a milk high.
We are, in essence, better, more rounded, employees and you should want us back. You should want us to breed your new customers and then come back to your workforce, because well, offering your fully trained, dedicated workforce a little bit of flexibility is a small price to pay to avoid a cat/cockroach apocalypse.