Opportunities slump for working mums
Dubai, February 2, 2011
The proportion of firms intending to hire more working mothers has slumped by one fifth since the same time last year, said a new report.
Compared to a year ago, when 44 per cent of companies planned to hire working mothers, only 36 per cent expect to do so as we move into 2011, according to research from workspace solutions provider Regus.
These findings will be of particular concern to women’s groups as overall employment prospects brighten with the accelerating global economy in the New Year.
The new study from Regus also reveals a residual proportion of businesses who continue to harbour concerns about employing working mothers, along with some detail as to what those concerns are.
When compared to overall business employment expectations, where 45 per cent of companies globally intending to make new hires in 2011, the Regus study showed that intentions to employ working mums has fallen considerably below this level.
In the UAE, where 46 per cent of companies plan to add staff, this trend is even more evident with only 32 per cent of firms declaring they plan to hire more working mothers.
The report also reveals residual concerns amongst a minority of employers, who still fear that working mothers may show less commitment and flexibility than other employees (37 per cent), leave shortly after training to have another child (33 per cent) or have out-dated skills (24 per cent).
In the UAE employers were particularly concerned about working mum’s flexibility (48 per cent) and that they might take time off to have another child (45 per cent).
On the positive side, a majority of businesses now value returning mothers, with 72 per cent declaring they believe companies that ignore part-time returning mothers are missing out on a significant and valuable part of the employment pool.
In addition, fully 56 per cent regard working mums as offering skills that are difficult to find in the current market; and 57 per cent declare that they value returning mothers because they offer experience and skills without demanding top salaries.
In the UAE, not demanding top salaries was just below the global average (56 per cent), perhaps indicating that working mothers stand a slightly better chance of being reasonably compensated for their work.
Mark Dixon, CEO of Regus, said: “It is not surprising to see that prejudiced attitudes come back into play with economic belt-tightening and some businesses are evidently still guilty of applying old-fashioned misgivings to the contemporary work environment.”
“Nevertheless, the UAE is reported to have the highest level of female participation in employment in the GCC with 59 per cent of women contributing to the economy.”
“While the vast majority of firms agree that barring the door to working mums means shutting out valuable staff, there is some concern that family commitments may hinder working mothers from giving their job full attention and commitment,” he added.
“As the workplace evolves it is recognized that businesses that are able to integrate these valuable assets stand a better chance of success,” Dixon continued.
“Fortunately, flexible work arrangements are becoming the norm and savvy businesses will find that they are able to provide a more family friendly and at the same time more productive work environment simply by allowing employees to work alternative hours or closer to home. Recognizing that the needs of working mums are not exceptional and extending them to all workers will provide productivity and overheads reduction benefits as well as making for more motivated staff,” Dixon concluded. – TradeArabia News Service