Let’s be honest- being an entrepreneur is hard at the best of times. You’ve got to juggle marketing, operations and financing. And then there’s the paperwork to deal with. And of course, there’s the hiring, and the challenges of finding the right people to join you and your startup. As the saying goes, people are an organization’s most important asset, and hiring the right people is one of the hardest decisions any entrepreneur can make. If you make the right call, you’ll have an eager, engaged employee who’ll help you achieve your goals. If you get it wrong, you’ll lose time and money.
While the prospect of finding the right people to help you grow the business is often daunting, there is however a pool of talent that is often hidden from sight. There are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of well-educated professionals with impressive resumes and extensive work experience who are flexible in terms of their ability to work. They’re the moms: women who have left the full-time workforce to raise their children, and who are now ready and willing to dip their toes back into the jobs market.
When it comes to talent, mothers are often an overlooked choice in the region, partly due to a belief in a rigid, 9-to-5 concept of how work should be defined. This belief in inflexible working environments is being challenged, particularly by a host of recently-founded, women-focused employment organizations (two to watch are Hopscotch Middle East and Mums@Work), who are leading the charge for getting organizations to rethink their HR practices to support the flexible hiring of female professionals who are also moms.
So why should entrepreneurs care? After all, most entrepreneurial environments are intense, driven and hands-on. Firstly, mothers are often masters when it comes to multitasking and getting the job done within a specific time frame; they’re focused on what needs to be done and are remarkable at keeping everything in order despite what may be happening around them. To put it in a simpler language, when the little one needs to be picked up at 5pm, that’s a fixed deadline, and they’ll respect the need to get whatever is on their to-do list done before that. I’ve rarely met a mother who isn’t an expert in time management, thanks to their parenting experiences.
Mothers are also dedicated to a fault, and so, they’ll often work above and beyond to get the task done. In a working environment such as the Gulf, where flexible working practices are still unusual, working moms are often both dedicated and appreciative of the opportunity to be able to both work as well as take care of the family. Flexible working enables you, their boss, to benefit from their skills, whilst paying less than a full-time hire. It’s a trade-off where both parties win, and both parties can benefit.
What does (but shouldn’t) surprise many employers is the experience and education that mothers can bring to the table. Many have had highly successful careers before making the decision to have a family. As far as I’m concerned, rather than detracting from those skills, motherhood adds to them. Mothers are super team players who know better than most the benefits of job sharing (think carpooling, sports activities, hobbies, etc.). Mothers are often able to spot an issue and fix it before it becomes a crisis, and they’re experts in bringing out the best of others or any situation.
If there’s one piece of advice I can give you about mothers, it’s to look beyond the conventional and focus instead on what she can do for you. The talent is there, as is the willingness to make the role a success, at a cost that is more affordable to many startups. So, the next time you need to hire, think differently!