Driving positive solutions to workplace challenges faced by career mums

Supporting mums important for business and community


As a business owner, how do you attract and retain talent? Are you reaching the right people? And as a parent, how do you find employment opportunities that support you to manage career and family?

These questions were at the heart of a breakfast event hosted by Future Whangaparaoa Business and CareerMum on 15 November. The event, attended by local businesses, parents and stakeholders, brought together important perspectives into one conversation as we start the dialogue on the topic of mothers in the workplace, and the opportunity it presents to support business growth, and healthy communities.

Guest speaker Paul Dymond of Wendy Wu Tours New Zealand, shared valuable insights on how supporting flexible work arrangements has enhanced talent attraction and retention, and been a key component of his business growth journey.

Participants were invited to share their perspectives in a ‘round table’ discussion format – what challenges they faced on their respective journeys, what insights could be shared, and what thoughts and ideas they had on supporting mothers in the workplace.

The discussion allowed insights to be gathered on the current landscape, on the appetite for a discussion on this topic, and how businesses and local parents can best be supported.

Insights included:

  • The need to support and promote flexibility for dads as well as mums
  • The opportunity to broaden perspectives by sharing case studies of successful initiatives and practices adopted by businesses
  • The connection between flexibility and loyalty
  • Focus on unit of work versus unit of time
  • The power of sharing insights, and co-creating ideas and opportunities.
  • The potential opportunity that job sharing offers
  • Challenges can vary for businesses of different sizes and across industries – there is no one size fits all solution, but there is an opportunity for all businesses to demonstrate family values.
  • The challenges faced by small businesses (up to 4-5 employees), particularly in industries where there is a need to cover business hours, for example retail.

An abundance of ideas emerged, as well as valuable examples from businesses who shared their approach and commitment to supporting parents.

Supporting a more efficient ecosystem

The discussion responds to trends such as leaking and under-utilised talent as women take a step back in their career or drop out of the workforce after starting a family, the high rate of childlessness among educated women, the increase we’re observing in the time our children are spending in childcare, and the more publicised trend of a lack of women in senior roles and governance. Each of these trends have strong social and economic significance, and they can be strongly influenced – positively or negatively – by the approach businesses take to supporting employees who are managing career alongside family.

The number of part-time / flexible positions being advertised is a fraction of the total number of jobs listed. Of those listed, there is a strong bias towards administrative and retail assistant roles. This can be both limiting and stressful for those seeking opportunities that fit their family needs.

This discussion also recognises the specific needs of the Hibiscus Coast, located around 25km north of Auckland. The past five to eight years have seen a significant rise in the number of young people and families living in the area, as well as growth to the local business economy. In the same period, commuting times to Auckland, as well as cost, have increased considerably, posing greater challenges for parents who work in or around central Auckland. There is an opportunity, therefore to support businesses to recognise and open the door to this local talent, and to realise the value of supporting mothers, and parents, who are managing career alongside family.

The event, which was held at the Whangaparaoa Community Hub, received an extremely pleasing response, with much recognition for the importance of supporting parents, and the connection this has with healthy communities and business success.

Next steps

The journey is in its early stages, with insights from the session being used to inform the development of a plan to support businesses and local families around this topic.

If you are interested in being a part of this initiative, or hearing more, please get in touch.

This event was part-funded by the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board.

Hibiscus and Bays Local Board


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