Women Inc: How To Empower Working Mums?

A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes,” writes Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in her book, Lean In. Latest research by Regus, the flexible workspace provider, confirms that mind-sets are rapidly changing as 83% of South African firms believe companies that will not employ women returning from maternity leave are missing out.

Far from returning with an obsolete address book and a rusty memory, working mums bring valuable skills and expertise, say 72% of South African businesses. These are the key findings of the latest research by Regus that canvassed the opinions of more than 19,000 business owners and senior managers in 98 countries.
Respondents reported that flexible hours, working closer to home and the option to video conference instead of travelling at least some of the time are among the top strategies to get more mothers back into the workforce.

Other interesting figures show that:
• 68% of South African respondents think more women are demanding to work remotely when they return to the workforce
• Perhaps due to increasing financial pressures, 61% of those surveyed say they are seeing women take shorter maternity leave (under 3 months)
• 55% say working closer to home is a key incentive
• 90% report that working flexible hours would help returning mothers

Commenting on the results, Rona Sauer, Area Director for Cape Town and P.E at Regus, says: “Reports highlight that the non-participation of women in the economy is costing as much as 27% per capita GDP in some countries . When combined with the fact that companies with a higher percentage of women on the board are more profitable , it is clear that businesses need to adapt protocols to better suit working mothers.

“When women return to work after maternity leave, they often find that juggling professional and personal duties can be very demanding, if not impossible. It is not surprising, therefore, that more and more mums seek flexibility. Whether that’s through flexi-time, the opportunity to work closer to home at least some of the time, or the option to choose video conferencing over business travel, these incentives are increasingly key to encouraging more women back into employment and driving the workplace into the future.”