The Mummy Problem

David Farmer our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 5/23/2016 11:52 AM
As a manager of a recruitment business, I am often called into meetings with organisations to discuss the challenge of attracting a diverse workforce. The expectation of us as an agency being to ensure we are doing as much as we can to create a diverse shortlist.

What strikes me about this is that as a supplier, we will be rewarded for sourcing candidates for these roles, so it is firmly in our interest to make sure we send the best candidate, no matter what sex, nationality or age. Also, positive discrimination (Affirmative action in the USA) is not legally acceptable in the UK, and therefore asking agencies to present diverse shortlists will potentially lead to more discrimination, rather than less.
Equally, I think that looking at the supply of candidates to solve the diversity problem is potentially looking in the wrong direction, and instead companies need to look at some of the things that they do, that prevent them from attracting a diverse pool of candidates.

There is a common trend in the meetings I attend. We work in a technical market where entry is dominated by men and where many clients struggle to attract women into management and senior management roles, and this is where I think that organisations are causing their own issues – namely the “Mummy problem”.

First and foremost, let me clear up any potential for accusations of sexist generalisations – the problem should be considered a “parent problem” rather than a “mummy problem”, but the challenge does seem to disproportionately impact the female workforce more than their male counterparts, so please forgive my use of this phrase.

The parent trap

The following example highlights exactly what I mean:

Chatting to a friend recently, she asked me for some advice. She was in the advanced stages of an interview process and liked the company. She has one child and was thinking of a second in the future. She had asked the organisation in question to send through their benefits package and had been sent it, but it didn’t include the parental leave policy. Her concern was that if she went back to the company to ask for this then she would immediately damage her candidacy, so she wanted to see if there was a way she could find out what their policy was without asking.

My advice was simple – ask them for it. If they’re not willing to share it with you or it does damage your chances of securing the role, then you don’t want to work for them anyway.

In this situation, the company in question sent it through to her, and all ended well with a job offer and a new role, but that’s not the issue at hand – the problem is her perception in the first place.

How many other female candidates withdraw from processes because they haven’t wanted to ask for a maternity policy? The lack of information available on these policies without asking directly for it seems very poor.

Had my friend not had the confidence to ask, the company would have missed out on someone they clearly wanted to hire based on her misconception.

Transparency is key

As far as I can see, the issue isn’t exclusively with externally advertising the policies. In researching this piece, I spoke to a client within a FTSE 50 company. She shared with me that she had been looking to leave that business to secure a role with better maternity benefits as the published policy suggested that she would only be entitled to statutory maternity pay and she was worried that if she asked anyone internally if this was the case, she would then be looked at differently.

It was only when she had found a potential role and approached a friend in their HR team about a question on notice period that she had an off-the-record conversation about the fact she was looking and was made aware of the fact that she was actually on an enhanced maternity package. She stayed in the business.

So we find ourselves in a situation where (some) female candidates don’t want to ask the question, and female employees don’t either. Either way, this should serve as a wakeup call for many organisations that they clearly must do more to communicate parental leave policies.

In my eyes, if these two examples are indicative of the norm, then the solution for companies is simple – it all comes down to communication…

Knowledge is power

Detail your parental leave policy in your benefits package. Almost all the packages we see from organisations have a thorough breakdown of all potential benefits, however barely any has any detail regarding parental leave. Companies, of course, want to hire people who will spend many years in the business, but in my eyes, they’re simply not doing enough to show what that would involve.

As a new father, I know just how important these conversations of maternity and paternity leave are when considering children, so companies need to consider this when selling roles to potential hires.

One thing I have reflected on when writing this – is there a reason for companies to be secretive on parental leave policy? Is there a fear of other organisations learning these benefits? Is the fear that employees will feel hard done by at a junior level when their policy is not enhanced? I haven’t been able to pinpoint the answer, and whilst I have asked a number of people about this, and can’t find a conclusive theme, I would appreciate people’s thoughts.

Related blog & news

With over 10 years experience working solely in the Data & Analytics sector our consultants are able to offer detailed insights into the industry.

Visit our Blogs & News portal or check out the related posts below.

HOW AI AFFECTS US FROM JOURNALISM TO POLITICS

How AI Affects Us from Journalism to Politics

It’s been nearly 40 years since the War Games movie was released. Remember the computer voice, JOSHUA, who asked the infamous, “Would you like to play a game?”. The computer had been programmed to learn. You might call it a forerunner of Artificial Intelligence (AI) today. Except AI is no longer the little boy who becomes a stand-in for a grieving family. Now, we’re no longer watching a movie about AI, we’re living in its times. But unlike a movie, we won’t find a solution after 90-minutes to two hours. Now, we must be cautious and pay attention or we will be leapfrogged by our own inventions. Can we change course at this late stage? As we enter a new decade, let’s take a look at some of the concerns and solutions posed by Amy Webb, author of The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity.  How Did We Get Here? As Christmas approaches, we are cajoled by memories and makers to buy back our past and cement our futures with things. Our desires for instant gratification keep us from planning for AI properly. While it can be fun to watch AI play against Chess champions or worrisome to watch it direct our buying decisions, we remain secure in that its not yet to its full potential. But elements such as facial recognition and realistic generation cause concern for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is what will happen when systems make our choices for us. From the Big 5 of Tech to your local commercial or paper, our minds are already often made up. And even when we’re presented with the truth, we may not even realise it because our AI capabilities have grown exponentially and continue to grow making us wonder…what if? So, What Can We Do? Businesses, Universities, and the Media all have a part to play. And in our image-centric world, the greatest of these is Media. Universities can blend technical skills with soft skills and blend in degrees such as philosophy, cultural anthropology, and microeconomics just to name a few. The blending of these skills can offer a more robust understanding of the world around us.  Businesses can work to ensure a more diverse staff and improve inclusion. Shareholders and investors can help by slowing down when considering investments in AI to allow for determining risk and bias before moving forward. And when it comes to the Media, there’s general agreement the public needs greater media literacy. While AI-focused accusations of deepfakes in news and on television abound, there is a greater concern in that much of what people believe to be fake, isn’t. So, the question becomes, how does the media generate trust in a public that no longer believes what it  reads, sees, or hears?  It’s this casting of doubt which is the greater danger. Why? Because it requires no technology at all. While it’s best to be informed, it can be tricky to navigate in today’s world. So, it’s up to not only the news consumers, but is up to researchers, journalists, and platforms to separate the wheat from the chaff. Or in this case, the real from the fake before the news reaches its audience. From Socrates who taught his students to question what they learned to the students of the 20th century expected to remember only what was needed for a test; we have come full circle. But at a unique time in our world, in which the questioning has not much to do with challenging ourselves but is at best used to sow distrust.  While tech companies like Facebook and Google have jumped on the bandwagon to expose fakes, others are moving into how to build trust. Again. At best, these startups offer comparisons of videos and images as the human eye works to discern the difference.  But while tech may be advancing technological wonders by leaps and bounds, there remains a solid grounding of the human element. Humans are needed as content moderators to dispel fiction from truth. And in the media? There’s a renewed focus on training journalists to fact check, detect, and verify their stories. The human element adds a layer of nuance machines can’t yet emulate. If you’re interested in AI, Big Data and Digital or Web Analytics, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our current opportunities, or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

How to Succeed in Self-Service BI

How to Succeed in Self-Service BI

Business Intelligence, along with Business Analytics and Big Data, is one of the terms often associated with decision-making processes in organisations.  However, there is little discussion around the importance of what skills decision makers in your organisation need to use the technology efficiently.  In recent years, the development of user-friendly tools for BI processes, Self-Service BI are increasing. Self-Service BI is an approach to BI where anyone in an organisation can collect and organise data for analysis without the assistance of data specialists. As a result of this, many businesses have invested in comprehensive storage and information processing tools. However, many are beginning to find that they are not able to realise the gains of these investments as they were expecting, may often due to underestimating the difficulties of introducing these systems into the current processes and transforming existing knowledge into actual actions and decisions.  In a worst-case scenario, if left unplanned, Self Service BI can sabotage your successful BI deployment by cutting mass user adoption, impairing query performance, failing to reduce report backlogs, and increasing confusion over the “single truth”. To prevent this from happening, here are our top three tips for ensuring the right implementation of SSBI in your company: UNDERSTAND YOUR USERS’ NEEDS There are three major user areas for analytics tools: strategic, tactical and operational. The strategic users make few, but important decisions. The tactical users make many decisions during a week and need updated information daily. Operational users are often closest to the customer, and this group needs data in its own applications in order to carry out a large number of requests and transactions.  Understanding the different needs of each group is necessary to know what information should be available at each given frequency to help scale the BI solution.  HARNESS THE POWER OF ADVANCED USERS To ensure a successful BI deployment, utilising advanced users is key. Self-service BI is not a one-size fits all approach. Casual users usually don’t have the time to learn the tool and will often reach out to ‘Power Users’ to create what they need. Hence, these users can become the go-to resource for creating ad-hoc views of data. Power Users are the ideal advocates for your business’ self-service BI implementation and should be able to help spur user adoption.  UPGRADE INTERNAL COMPETENCIES  Our final tip for a successful implementation is to communicate the new tool thoroughly to the users.  It is highly unlikely that employees who have not been involved in the actual development project will immediately understand what the tool should be used for, who needs it, and what it should replace. By upgrading internal competencies, you can avoid becoming dependent on external assistance. Establishing a cross-organizational BI competence centre of 5-10 members, who meet regularly to share their experiences will help drives and prioritise future use of the tool. The added benefit of a successful implementation is that it will generate new ideas from users for how the organisation can use data to make better decisions. If you have the skillset to implement Business Intelligence solutions, we may have a role for you.  Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in contact with our team. 

RELATED Jobs

Salary

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus, Pension, Fantastic training

Location

London

Description

Are you looking for an opportunity to challenge yourself in a leading retail company based in Central London? They offer exceptional room for growth.

Salary

£50000 - £60000 per annum

Location

City of London, London

Description

Are you a Senior Data Analyst who is looking for an opportunity to challenge yourself in a leading media company based in Central London?

Salary

£20000 - £55000 per annum + commission + benefits + bonus

Location

London

Description

We've got start dates in February and March and we're looking to bring in 3 Recruitment Consultants to join our team.

Salary

€80000 - €90000 per annum

Location

Bielefeld, Nordrhein-Westfalen

Description

Ein schnell wachsendes Handels Start-Up sucht nach einem Head of Data Science, welcher dabei helfen soll, das Unternehmen bereit für die Zukunft zu machen...

recently viewed jobs