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How we pitched job-share and won

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I can’t count how many times I have heard women say: ‘I only work part time’ apologetically.

One year ago today I started (along with my colleague) something that was seen as ground breaking. I started a new role. Ground breaking? No, wait for the ground breaking part; I started (with my colleague Nic) in a new role as a ‘two-for-one’ deal. ‘What is that?’ I hear you ask.

Nic and I applied for a full-time role. Yes, we both applied for one full-time role. We pitched to our potential new employer (QUT Canberra) ‘Nic&Bec’ in a job share capacity.

So to cut the story short, we applied knowing we had the skill set and ability and our potential employer saw the opportunity. After the usual interview process we were the right people for the job and received an offer.

Now one year on with QUT Canberra we often tell the story matter-of-factly and we always get the same response: ‘wow that’s brave’ or ‘I would never think to do that’. And my favourite which is (after looking at us like we are some kind of circus act) ‘so how does it actually work?’. And every time I am somewhat confused by these responses.

What confuses me is why, when we move to a non-traditional working arrangement (job share, part time or working flexibly) for whatever reason (maternity leave, raising children, or simply by choice) in some cases, it can suddenly change the value we have to offer.

Nic and I had a track record of job share, experience to back it up and we delivered results. So why not go for it?

I know there are many women that work flexibly and are confident in their skills and what they bring each day to the workplace. But for each of those, there are many more who, for whatever reason, have lost their confidence in the value they add.

Unfortunately, we are still defined by traditional approaches and undermined by (in a lot of cases) self-doubt.

Yes working flexibly is a big topic and there is much to consider. This includes employer-imposed systematic barriers to flexible work such as recruitment processes, ‘face time’ culture, perceived set-up and implementation costs to name a few.

And from the employees’ perspective the fear that flexible work may affect future career prospects, excessive workload and general lack of ongoing support are very real.

Employers like QUT are breaking down these barriers and conventions by being open to new ways of working and importantly backing this up with policies and a culture that actually supports employees and in turn, benefits the employer.

And from a ‘what can I do now?’ perspective, those of us that already work flexibly, can start making a difference today – by being proud of what we offer, sharing our own journey and encouraging others we meet along the way.

We all move forward when we recognize how resilient and striking the women are around us. Rupi Kaur

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