Over the Christmas- New Year break my wife and I had the opportunity to spend two wonderful weeks with our children and grandchildren. Included in this cohort was our daughter, her husband and four young children (newborn, 14 month old twins and 3 year old). A fun time was had by all (I have the photos to prove it), but to call it a holiday is probably a stretch. Maybe an exercise in logistics or Course 101 in Human Management would be better. If you’ve ever travelled with kids under the age of 3 you’ll know what I mean.
What struck me was the ease and grace of both my daughter and her husband as they happily went about their daily routine running this busy family in an environment which at best was foreign to them and their children. I’m sure there are lessons here even for the United Nation’s António Guterres.
I have often thought about the impact of parental leave on my daughter’s burgeoning career in fashion and by extension, given my line of work, the impact on those in the sport, fitness and aquatic sector that face the same choices when starting and then raising a family.
Prior to taking leave 5 years ago for her first child, my daughter had thoughtfully progressed to an executive position and was on track to a more substantive leadership role as GM or CEO. Over the past five years it is fair to say her immediate contemporaries have now achieved these senior roles. Without exception those that have continued their career trajectory have not had a family/parental leave break over this time.
I know, from 22 years experiences as a frontline recruiter, when the time comes for my daughter to re-enter the workforce the years spent as a parent or carer will be meaningless to an employer as they scan through her CV.
You would have to have your head under a very big rock not to know it is against the law to discriminate against anyone in the workplace because of their parental or carer status. But sadly, you’d have the very same head under even a bigger rock not to have seen active discrimination of parents and carers somewhere in the past. It’s incredibly naive to think just because there’s a bunch of laws some employers can’t or won’t find a way around them. Even the Dalai Lama is quoted as saying... “Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively”.
While there are great employers who will always do what they can to accommodate the needs of parents and carers, the broader issue is the lack of recognition of the experiences and skills developed in the role as a parent or carer. While employers can easily understand the chronology of a candidate’s “office work” experiences they cannot always connect the dots when 3-5 years have been spent as a parent or carer.
In a recent job application received by Sportspeople Recruitment a candidate noted 2012-2016 had been spent as Home Manager running a busy and active family unit. She went on to list the key responsibilities over this time, her achievements and how these experiences have better equipped her for return-to-work. In fact, for all intent and purposes she never stopped working and these 5 years are valid experiences in her career journey.
The premise of her CV is of course that functional skills learnt and developed over her time as Home Manager are transferable skills an employee can use in various work environments or situations. To help reinforce this point there are a number of blogs that discuss the various job titles, daily challenges and responsibilities of a typical parent, including CEO of the Household, Judge, Family Therapist, Finance Manager, Reverse Psychologist, Logistics Manager, Chief Negotiator, Stress and Time Management Consultant and so on. You get the idea.
The principle of merit in a decision to engage or promote a person is based on the assessment on the relationship between the candidates’ work-related qualities and the qualities genuinely required to perform the relevant duties. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind the life-experiences gained as a parent or carer is of benefit to both employers and employees in an office or traditional work environment.
If you are an employer and you receive an application from any candidate noting a parent or carer break recently or in the past, there is no better time than now to acknowledge the relevance of their entire portfolio of experiences. Connect the dots. And, if you are a candidate that has a portfolio of parental or carer responsibilities include these in your CV and list the functional skills and experiences gained over the time. Connect the dots.
RM - Sportspeople Recruitment
First Published 2018.