By Lauren Kelly, CEO and Founder of Fearless
I built my Design and Talent agencies, Fearless Talent and Fierce, while I was pregnant during the pandemic. It made me realise that all women, from whatever class or background, shouldn’t have to choose between having a career and a family. Being able to do both should be the default option. But currently, it’s not the case.
Fearless Community was born in the pandemic to help designers stay connected and supported through online networking opportunities and events. It has since launched charity initiatives to drive change for those less fortunate, providing education and careers to designers without access to opportunities; this has built a powerful sense of loyalty to the platform, allowing the network to grow and strengthen.
We’ve created a project around working parents (and soon to be parents) that highlights the issues and challenges parents face and we are now looking to give them a resource that will prove to be useful. We’re developing this off the back of research we did recently to understand the problems working parents face. The statistics are staggering. Some 54,000 women lose their jobs every year simply for having a baby. Single parents in the UK spend up to half of their earnings (47.65%) on full-time childcare.
We found that failing to facilitate the return of stay-at-home mothers back into the workplace is costing the UK around £62.5bn in wasted talent every year. The lack of flexible work available for parents resulted in 12.8 million lost working days due to depression, anxiety, and burnout.
I wanted to do something about the systemic issue, so we are developing an MVP designed for parents. It’s a collection of resources for parents who are either struggling to break into work or concerned about returning to work. It also brings together resources for businesses, so that they can understand, empathise, put policies in place and better utilise the swathes of talent who otherwise don’t make it back into the workforce.
There are simple things businesses can do to ensure their staff who are parents are happy, healthy and productive. Money is the biggest issue for parents who ‘can’t afford to work’. For example, helping returnees or new starters by subsidising childcare can relieve a huge pressure and make work financially worthwhile. Providing a form of funding or grant – such as for help transporting children while parents work – can make all the difference between a parent choosing to work or not.
The pandemic brought on a new era of flexible and hybrid working patterns for almost everyone, a lot of which thankfully remains. It’s clear now that creating more job-sharing opportunities, greater access to part-time job roles, and normalising flexibility at all levels, is a cost-effective way of keeping talented people working, without burning out.
The same goes for providing mental health support, or at a more basic level, workplace support networks such as buddy schemes. They can make a huge difference. Just having someone to talk to about how you feel can make an employee feel better.
On the other side of this systemic issue, I hear frequently from women in high powered jobs who are scared to have children for fear of impeding their career. Many people will choose to delay having children but may decide later in life that the time is right.
Until recently we’ve lived in a society where women were supposed to just stay home and raise kids. But this isn’t the case anymore. I’m hoping that by shedding light on this issue, offering time, resources and empathy – while practising what I preach 100% at my own company – that the world of work will start to catch up to that fact.
If you’re keen to find out more about our project or help us make a difference, please take a look at our article https://www.itsfearless.com/blog/working-parents-projectand connect with me on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurenkellycreative/