Telum vox pop: how can the comms industry further support working mothers?

Telum vox pop: how can the comms industry further support working mothers?

In honour of International Women's Day, we spoke to several female PR and comms professionals from different sectors to hear how they stay sane as working parents, especially during these challenging times. They also shared their take on whether companies are doing enough to support their work-life balance and actions that can be done on a personal level, as well as from the comms industry at large, to further facilitate a working parent. 
Anni Li, PR Freelancer 
I think comms companies are getting more and more supportive nowadays, thanks to the growing concerns on ESG. But alas, there's always room for improvement. Here are my thoughts: 
  • Keep Zoom meetings under half an hour and always share meeting minutes after. Even just a few bullet points would suffice for a new mum, whose brain is likely scattered in a million places.
  • Grant flexible working arrangement. It might require well-thought-out coordination and empathy for a coworker who’s facing new challenges in life. An absent teammate is not “social-loafing” but might just be busy looking for a place to pump. 
  • Allow longer paid paternity leave. This will lift the burden of the dad, when, not just their newborn, but also their partner need him the most. 
A pandemic ago, parents went to work, and kids went to school, but now, the physical boundary has disappeared due to all kinds of closures / quarantine. And as I pen this article, Hong Kong’s schools are to close early for summer, binding parents and kids like never before. I think working parents should be more vocal about the help they need to navigate the difficult waters with their employers and coworkers together. 

Fanny Lee, Regional Communications Coordinator, The Fred Hollows Foundation
Among the world’s blind, women account for 55 percent and most of them live in low and middle-income countries. It might seem like diseases don’t discriminate, but avoidable blindness absolutely does. I am very lucky to work for The Fred Hollows Foundation which prioritises gender equity and inclusion not only for the people we serve but also for the staff.

As working parents, we all know how hard it is to be working from home and keeping an eye on children’s studies at the same time. I am very grateful to be able to work from home since COVID broke out three years ago, giving me the space to foster the wellbeing of my family. The good side can be as simple as running to the kids when they have an Internet issue during online classes, which bothers a working mum a lot. Not all my colleagues are parents, but they always show patience and understanding when my kids are yelling in the background because their headphones are not working.

Working parents do not need special attention or treatment. All we need is understanding and room to manoeuvre. To be a good model for our children, we do our best to strike a balance between work and home too.

Sarah Keates, Founder & CEO, White Orchid Insights
Whilst my big agency days are behind me, I am confident that the overall landscape is changing for the better. I have taken steps to understand our ideal client and how I can live authentically as a working parent whilst also being a comms professional that brands enjoy working with. It’s important to me to take steps to normalise boundaries and prioritising a healthy work-life balance. I hope that the way I (publicly) do so on my Instagram account helps other women to feel the confidence (permission!) to carve out working practices that suit their whole selves - work, family, self.

At White Orchid Insights (WOI) we outline our offering and working practices and seek to work with brands that understand, align, and will benefit from the way we work. In the wider industry, I see comms professionals being more “human” by setting and enforcing boundaries and protecting a new-found, healthier approach to work. The pandemic has brought a level of humanity back to the business that has simultaneously and paradoxically negatively and positively served women. The overall picture is positive and communications professionals can finally advocate for themselves in a way that wasn’t previously possible. More of this please, comms!

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