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What if our work day synced with the school day?

HerCanberra Team

Mothers Day is over and now we have 364 days til we’re celebrated again by the rest of the world.

So yesterday got us thinking about the unpaid work mothers do, and how hard it is for mothers and others to hold down full-time jobs at the same time. With six-hour school days and eight-hour workdays— how can you make it work without the guilt, or burning out? Unfortunately, part-time jobs are scarce and just six percent of managers work part-time—a statistic that has remained stagnant for the past four years. No wonder so many women are excluded from senior roles.

“The Harvard Business Review, The Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Company have all said that the only way to increase the representation of women in leadership is to offer more part-time role structures,” explains Victoria Stuart, former Google Executive and co-founder of online talent marketplace Beam Australia.

“That’s why we’re focused on providing a marketplace for professional part-time work—allowing those drowning in full-time work or locked out of the workforce to step back in.”

As former executives themselves, Victoria (who spent some time at the Department of Defence in Canberra) and her Beam co-founder Stephanie Reuss (former Executive at CEB) are determined to revolutionise the way women approach work hours, to provide equal career opportunities. Victoria argues that whether people prefer to work a traditional 40-hour week or in bite-sized pieces of that, their preferred structure doesn’t determine whether they are the best person for the job.

In fact, there are undeniable further economic advantages to getting more women into leadership roles says Stephanie.

“An increase of just six percent female representation would increase our national GDP by $25 billion, and female CEOs in the ASX 300 delivered a nine percent increase in revenue in 2016, compared to the group-wide average of half a percent,” she explains.

“Yet female CEOs represented just three percent of the ASX 300 and 4.8 percent of the ASX 200, less than men named John, Peter and David.”

Beam’s aim is to increase the flexibility offered in senior roles, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. They were recently recognised as the 2017 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year, and on International Women’s Day this year, 2 of the 9 most influential Entrepreneurs of 2018. But it’s not just mothers or women looking for flexibility.

“The people coming to Beam looking for part-time career-worthy roles are also dads, portfolio career-seekers, professional and semi-professional athletes, carers and people who just want to work three to four days a week,” says Victoria. “We don’t discriminate—24 per cent are men!”.

According to Stephanie and Victoria, Beam is teaching companies how to do part-time well so we’ll see more roles in the market, one of which is at Microsoft right here in Canberra.

“In a big milestone, Microsoft has just gone to market with their first part-time role in Canberra,” says Stephanie.

“Beam has worked with them to scope a part-time (25 hours) role for a —Surface Solution Specialist. If you have experience selling devices and are looking for genuine flexibility, this is your dream job.”

Beam’s Canberran woman-on-the-ground Veronica Freeman is walking the walk herself after recently leaving the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to work with Beam three days a week.

“I have lived the challenges of a working parent and I am passionate about ensuring that the flexibility and support afforded to me over the years is something that is available for all,” she says.

“We’ve no doubt we’ll convince more and more Canberran departments, agencies and companies to adopt the Beam work model—which we call smart-time,” says Veronica.

“Smart-time means hours of power. Beamers are people who can accomplish an extraordinary amount in compact blocks of time. They’re people who have diversity in their lives, which feeds their motivation for work and enriches the perspective they bring to work.”

Looking for more flexibility when it comes to work hours?

You can find “Beamers” for your company or join the Beam Australia marketplace for part-time work.

Feature image (L-R): Stephanie Reuss and Victoria Stuart.

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  • Ashlee Betteridge

    This sounds like a great initiative. Just wanted to point out that not everyone needing flexible or part-time working arrangements is a parent — I had to cut back to part-time work due to an immune illness, for example (autoimmune and ‘invisible’ illnesses predominantly affect women). There’s a real need for these kinds of roles so that professionals can grow their careers even when life throws a spanner in the works. Sometimes it’s not a choice to move to part-time work, but an absolute necessity. So it’s great to hear about this effort to expand the options!