Do you think that all the possible flexible jobs are low paid and menial? Do you believe that the kind of role you’d be interested in cannot be done part time? You might want to think again. There are more and more examples of senior and professional women who have found – and often created – satisfying, stimulating and, yet, flexible positions.
Take Julie, a City litigation lawyer who left her role during IVF treatment. After being away from the office for 8 years, she offered to return as an adviser to her firm’s trainees. The role did not exist but the firm thought it was such a good idea that they expanded Julie’s original proposal. She has been working 2.5 days per week (including half a day at home) for 8 years and has continued to develop her role according to further needs that she has identified.
Or consider Dalla, a taxation lawyer in the City who negotiated 4 days per week term-time only working when she returned to work, in a new firm. Or the A&E consultant at King’s College Hospital, featured in Channel 4’s series 24 hours in A & E, who currently works one day per week.
But it is not only doctors and lawyers who have this luxury! A recent publication of the Power Part Time Top 50 highlighted CEO’s, CFO’s and many other senior people who are successfully operating on 2-4 days per week. This list was compiled by TimeWise, an employment agency which specialises in senior part-time roles. The founder of TimeWise, Karen Mattison MBE, who herself works flexibly, suggests that the weak economic environment is encouraging more organisations to consider part-time roles as a way to be able to afford someone first rate who is unwilling or unable to work full-time.
There are also enlightened companies, such as Proctor & Gamble, which see their family friendly policies as a key feature in attracting talent. All P&G employees are eligible to apply for flexible working and in May 2011, 11% of its UK workforce worked a formalised reduced work schedule.
Some women find a way to work flexibly by creating a portfolio of different roles. Penny Hughes, formerly President of Coca-Cola in the UK and Ireland who left her role when she became pregnant, has spent the last twenty years accumulating a series of board positions with companies such as RBS, Morrison and Cable & Wireless. She works on average 2-3 days per week. Similarly, Elizabeth* who built a career in investment banking over 25 years, is sharing her expertise in a variety of non-Executive board roles.
Other ways of finding flexibility in your working life include becoming self-employed (my choice), taking interim or project-based roles or starting your own business. The reality is that you have many ways to find a flexible role: you might just need to find or create it yourself, rather than waiting for it to be advertised.
Posted by Katerina