Focus On Working Mums And Flexible Working

With last week marking International Women’s Day (IWD), and Mother’s Day this weekend, it gave us the opportunity to focus on the fantastic team of women we have working here at GL, across all areas of the business, who make it what it is.

The theme of this year’s IWD was ‘Embrace Equity’ in a bid to generate conversations about ‘why equal opportunities aren't enough’. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action.

The word ‘equity’ is often used interchangeably with ‘equality’. By definition, equity recognises that individuals have different circumstances, meaning the exact resources and opportunities can be allocated to reach an equal outcome.

At GL and glal, we are very proud of our flexible working policy, which allows our fantastic team of women – some of whom are working mothers - to achieve a work/life balance that suits them within what could still be considered a male-dominated industry.

In fact, we are so proud of it, it formed part of the basis of our visit from HRH The Princess Royal, who spoke to several of our working mothers benefiting from our flexible working policy.

We sat down with some of those women to talk more about the benefits of working for GL and glal and how they came to work for the company:

How important was the company’s flexible working policy for you when you were looking at GL as a potential employer?

Claire Constanduros, Marketing Manager: It was very important for me, I was very interested in joining the company as sustainable homes really appealed to me but I didn’t want to work full time if possible. Being able to discuss reduced hours confirmed this was the right job.

Sara Mason-Parker, Sales & Key Accounts Manager: I was friends with Anthony Ottway, the Managing Director, so he knew I was looking for a more flexible job and the working hours were a major consideration.

What are the biggest benefits?

Emma Owen, Accounts Supervisor: Being able to work from home a couple of days a week in the half terms. This saves me having to pay for extra childcare.

Michelle Fletcher, Sales & Customer Service There’s no being made to feel guilty for having to take the time off if you need to, especially when it’s last minute.

CC: Being able to pick up my son from school and take him to after school activities.

SM-P: Having a line manager who understands my commitments and trusts me to work remotely.

Rachel Bell, Customer & Sales Advisor: It takes the pressure off as a mum. If you are needed by your children urgently you can go without question.

Genelle Hadley, Design Manager: It affords you the availability to attend school events.

What, if any, have been the biggest challenges?

MF: There haven’t really been any because of the fact everyone is so understanding.

CC: None really, if I have to finish work later in the day this is just part of the work/life juggle.

RB: None, it’s never been an issue if we need to leave early or take a day off.

Does flexible working play a large role in your day-to-day working life?

SM-P: Absolutely. As sole carer for a young child I would not be able to work without flexibility.

EO: Definitely, as I only work until 2.30pm so I am able to collect my children from school each day.

CC: Yes it means I don’t miss out on those important events in my child’s school life such as sports day or a concert.

What do you think about companies who don’t offer flexible working?

EO: I believe they are denying themselves staff who are willing to work hard.

GH: They are in the dark ages, nowadays it’s more commonplace to offer this than not I think.

MF: Parents have so much to deal with anyway when they have children without having the added pressure of not being able to take the time off when they need to. I feel strongly about this due to previous employers not understanding which I found was up there with one of the most stressful things.

CC: I understand that it’s not always possible in other industries such as medicine or education, but where it is possible companies could be missing out on talented employees who can offer just as much by working reduced hours or flexibly.

Why do you think it is so important, especially for working mums?

CC: As a mum, you instinctively give so much of you to your children, so being able to maintain your career keeps that bit of the ‘old you’ and a balance in your life. Also knowing you have that flexibility means it’s not so stressful to juggle the work life balance.

RB: As a mother, there is perhaps a lot more responsibility that naturally falls on us. Not all the time of course, but there are certain things which mums just pick up.

SM-P: Work life balance is stressful and you feel guilty all the time. To know you have an empathetic employer helps minimise the stress and guilt, which helps our mental health.

MF: We like to be able to get back into the swing of work life as easily and smoothly as possible and having an employer that offers flexible hours to help around school runs/pickups really helps with this.

What do you love most about your job (aside from the flexible working)?

SM-P: The industry is really varied and I am continually learning, especially now with such a focus on sustainability. Also working with a fun team.

MF: We have a great team of people which helps with the day to day. Everyone is approachable and willing to help.

CC: I love the relaxed atmosphere and the continual learning about the industry and how we contribute towards a sustainable future for housebuilding. I have always had an interest in environmental issues so I find it fascinating and I love telling all my family and friends about it!

GH: Great team, laid back and good working environment. It’s a working environment very much based in the real world, in that we are allowed to fit in family around work; it’s not like we have to hide the important part of our life, our family.

RB: We work around each other. We know that Ant is fine as long as the work is covered and he trusts us to get on with it.

The housebuilder and supply industry isn’t stereotypically female oriented. How did you get into your job and why is it the right fit for you?

EO: I knew Ant personally and the job was created to fit around the hours that were beneficial to me.

MF: I heard of the job through my sister’s partner. I was looking to move roles anyway because of the lack of flexibility in my job at the time. I was told the company was very good when it comes to needing flexibility for childcare/emergency time off. I’ve always done customer service roles, so this job was always going to be a good fit for me, especially with having a little one as well.

CC: I like being in an environment with a healthy mix of male and females. Both have different things to offer a working office and a company to maintain a balance. Plus, I have an interest in sustainability and a general interest in homes and property.

SM-P: I was friends with the Managing Director but previously I would never have considered construction. However, now I understand the whole supply chain and varied opportunities I wish I had chosen this industry when I first did my degree.

What would you say to a female looking to get into what they might consider a male-dominated industry and working for a company like GL?

SM-P: This is an exciting industry, a secure industry, with great opportunities and there is a lot of support and focus for women in construction now.

CC: To give it a go, there are so many avenues from technical to sales to marketing where women can make their mark. The industry has many more female role models and is addressing the gender gap, plus the innovation and technological advances means it is constantly evolving.

With environmental issues being taught in school from primary school age, living sustainability will be more of an everyday requirement for the next generation and might hopefully spur more girls on to getting into construction.

EO: In this day and age gender should not be a factor, just your willingness to work hard.

MF: There have been more women joining the company since I started which takes away that feeling of a ‘male-oriented’ industry, so it isn’t really something you notice working for GL.