Shining a spotlight on flexible working this International Women's Day

International Women's Day is happening this week and it's the perfect opportunity to celebrate the amazing achievements of women throughout the world and shine a spotlight on the issues affecting women. The strong call-to-action for women to exist in an environment that's one of equality, fairness and gender inclusivity has never been louder.

This year's International Women's Day theme of #pressforprogress highlights the need for action to create meaningful change. We are all compelled to be part of that journey, no matter our gender.

Flexible working and work/life balance
One of the issues I'm passionate about is flexible working arrangements without the stigma while still achieving career progression. As one of many working parents employed on a part-time basis, flexibility in the workplace and the need for work/life balance is no longer something that happens if you're ‘lucky' to find a good employer. It's a sign of the times and requires a cultural shift and a fresh mindset. I am certainly not alone in the need for flexible employment, with almost one-third of the Australian workforce estimated to be employed part-time.

It's been an interesting journey finding my way back into the corporate world after an 18-month hiatus. When I look back on my life before motherhood, I cannot believe the amount of work-related stress I carried with me due to the busy role I held; a strong commitment to the cause but a sense of only just treading water.

Renewed passion
I have returned to work refreshed and with renewed passion to be successful and advance my career, but without the same level of stress. It's a careful balancing act and I know I must stay focused on my work and prioritise my tasks to be successful, without dropping the ball or compromising the time I have with my family.

I am fortunate to work for an organisation that is supportive and accommodates flexible working for all (not just working parents), empowering us to make a real contribution because the benefits this brings to the team are clearly understood. I have not experienced any negative perceptions from being a part-time worker and I know my contribution is known and valued. But I have heard many tales from my mother's group where this is not always the case! I am also aware I shouldn't say ‘fortunate'. One day this will be commonplace in all organisations.

There are so many talented and driven people out there seeking flexible employment arrangements that suit their family life or other commitments. These people can make a real and valuable contribution to their employer organisation while progressing their career paths. I hope that more employers will come to the table and accommodate these requests for flexibility, with a true understanding of how these situations can be beneficial to all parties.