This week I attended Management Today’s Inspiring Women in Business Conference Edinburgh, which played host to some incredible speakers. From Karyn McCluskey fighting Glasgow’s gangs to Ruth Davidson becoming the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, “inspiring” was absolutely the right word . However, of all the incredible speeches there’s one thing that’s really stuck with me and that was a quote from Archie Struthers, global head of investment governance & oversight at Aberdeen Standard Investments:
“Presenteeism is a dangerous cultural hangover”
When flexible working is reserved to a specific group of people that are unable to attend events out of hours, unable to socialise as part of the team and even feel guilty because of their ‘absenteeism’ it can have a negative cultural effect. If one of the world’s largest financial companies (who as an industry aren’t exactly known for their flexibility) are able to say; it is possible to do your job from home – then why are we still having this debate?
It should be okay to shift your hours sometimes to fit into your life and as technology & cultures change I think we all need to be constantly reassessing things. Giving working mothers flexibility is no longer enough, and not giving others the opportunity actually contributes to the cycle of mothers being the ones that ‘fall behind’. We must encourage and even push for a wider use of flexible working – why shouldn’t Dad be at home on a Friday while Mum goes to work?
Everyone and especially working parents need to stop feeling guilty for not being present every day. Every step we take towards building a more inclusive and equal workforce will improve not only the culture but the businesses we all care so much about.