Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate the political, social, and economic achievements of women, but it’s also a time to raise awareness about areas where improvement is still sorely needed. Around the world, women’s employment issues run the gamut from even being able to hold jobs outside of the home in some regions, to questions about pay equity in others. No matter the problem, women’s access to equitable and gainful employment should be top of mind year-round, and March acts as a critical reminder.
One group that is often overlooked in the struggle to find jobs is new mothers. Opportunities for women who are primary caregivers are already few and far between, but when a company’s hiring process lacks flexibility (even if the final role is remote) new moms are excluded from the talent pool.
The ONS has identified that the current number of active job vacancies in the UK is 1,134,000. Hiring processes that exclude new mothers are a serious misstep for employers who are desperate to fill roles. The good news is this is a problem with clear solutions for caregivers and companies alike:
New parenthood inevitably brings a new routine and scheduling constraints. Gone are the days of working and interviewing strictly between 9-5. Providing the opportunity to interview for jobs outside of the ‘normal’ workday hours opens the doors to a wealth of career opportunities, which wouldn’t necessarily be available if you had to follow the interview process between the 9-5 restriction. Asynchronous interviewing means new parents can enter the process whenever they want or can, planning around their child’s and their own needs.
Virtual interviews became a necessity for everyone in 2020, but the continued availability of the asynchronous interview has been critical for people with disabilities, folks living in rural areas, and new mothers. The option to interview from home means no babysitter and no stressful travelling experience, allowing mothers of small children to navigate their career search without upending routines. Couple virtual interviews with fully remote working options, and a whole new world has opened up for this demographic.
VALUING REAL-WORLD SKILLS AS WELL AS THE CV
Relying primarily on CVs means missing out on valuable talent in the workplace. While they can be a useful snapshot of a person’s past experience and education, they’re a poor proxy for assessing skills and abilities. And unconscious bias in resume evaluation is a well-known issue, whether it’s prioritising a candidate because they went to an elite school or excluding someone due to a resume gap (a common feature for women who have taken maternity leave). Instead, companies can offer pre-employment skills assessments to allow new mothers the opportunity to show their skills and capabilities on top of their CVs.
These three changes to the hiring process can benefit new mothers by giving them access to opportunities they deserve, and they also help businesses that are eager to fill open requisitions.