If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice one of the hashtags I use frequently is #womeninbusiness.
When I re-launched Ella St Communications earlier this summer, I boldly stated that supporting women would be part of my main ethos, along with sustainability. There are two reasons for this, both of which opened my eyes to how vital women in business are for the digital and comms industries.
First was a client I worked with a few years ago. They supported girls aged 14-17 through teen pregnancy and education, to show them that with the right support, they were just as likely to succeed at school as their peers. While working with The Boulevard Academy, I spent time with a lot of these girls and found their work ethic to be astounding. They were up all night, feeding their babies, struggling with sleep deprivation, just like every other mum on the planet, but they were also sitting their GCSEs. What they were provided with was often practical support – an onsite nursery so they could drop their babies off before starting school, visit and feed them during their lunchbreak, making the logistics of being a young parent at least a little more feasible – but also emotional support. Specially trained teachers would support them through pregnancy issues, preparation for birth, and the balance between returning to school (some very quickly so not to miss course deadlines) and looking after a baby. What they were never given – and never asked for – was sympathy. No exceptions were given for late homework, lack of effort or commitment, and none was needed. These girls knew two things: they loved their babies, and they wanted to support them. By securing their education they were readying themselves for a future they could depend on.
Of course, the seriousness of what they were trying to achieve didn’t hit me until I returned to work after having my own daughter. Some mornings I could barely remember my own name, let alone have the brain capacity to study for an exam.
Two years after her birth, I found an opportunity to join a family-first company as their Communications Manager. I worked for Mum & You and relished in their flexible approach to work – swapping my hours around to suit family needs, working from home a few times a week, even taking my daughter into the office to work if I needed to (which she still asks to go back to – got to love a spinny office chair!). But I was the only one of my friends with the ability to work like this. Flexible working is a growing trend in the workplace, but it’s not gaining traction fast enough to benefit those who need it now.
These two experiences combined made me realise one major thing – at the stage of life that a young person is expected to develop their work interests, consider the career they might like, and carry out internships – they have the time and freedom to do so. Except if they’re already a parent.
By considering this, I am launching a unique internship scheme, which will allow young parents to experience work experience as it should be available to them – flexibly. This isn’t just to allow them to build their CV at a time when all their friends are doing so, it’s to educate them on the type of work that they have the right to demand from their future. The more people that recognise the benefits and value in flexible working, the stronger our industries will be. And the more young women that can accrue this knowledge, the higher chance that the leaders of tomorrow will set out work practices that benefit everyone.
Are you a business that would like to offer a flexible internship? Get in touch for more info.