Recently, Hiperpool gathered three senior leaders from the corporate, consulting and start-up worlds to discuss the challenges faced by women in business. Joining us were Maham El-Shoura, Senior Manager at Bain & Company, Srishti Chhabra, VP of Operations at C2FO and Marieke Christmann, Principal at Octopus Ventures. We discussed everything from what organisations can do to ensure women reach senior leadership positions to the advice they would have given their younger selves. Read on for a summary of the conversation.
What has been your experience with flexible working?
Maham el Shoura: I've just come back from maternity leave. I had initially planned to come back full time in January. Instead, I ended up starting with two days a week in December, then four days a week from January through to the end of March. I've just gone back full time (mid-April) and appreciated having this gradual increase back to work. I’ve been clear and vocal about what I need to be successful and my colleagues have been supportive. I think it’s important to know what you want and articulate it clearly. Often we assume things aren’t possible, but if we ask, it’s quite possible.
Organisations should recognise people who have been successful whilst working flexibly and make sure to highlight those people. Also, flexible working means different things to different people and shouldn’t just be reserved for those who have children.
Further, flexible working isn’t just a female issue - it should be viewed as gender-neutral. Whether by providing equal maternity and paternity leave or making clear that flexible working is also available for those without children.
Marieke Christmann: I'm on week four back from maternity leave and I've jumped in at the deep end from zero to 100%. It’s challenging, but what makes it work for me is that my team takes a flexible approach to work so we can do our roles whenever we have time. I take time out of the day to do bedtime and bath time. I think that people now realise that working from home is productive and this will make it easier for parents, generally.