My inspiration for this week’s blog comes from this article in the Telegraph, on how working mums can ‘nail sexist evening events’.
Should it really matter if it’s the mother or the father who attends the networking events? Can’t both be encouraged rather than presuming only men want/are able to attend the evening events and then labelling them as ‘sexist events’ (Jeremy Corbyn). Personally, I much prefer the idea that networking should happen where possible naturally during the day – coffees and lunches – rather than traditionally in the evening – for both men and women.
We asked our ‘networking expert,’ Andy Lopata (www.lopata.co.uk) for his views:
Unfortunately many women still find themselves in a child-caring role which makes extra- curricular-activities such as evening networking events more difficult; particularly if they are single parents. However, families do tend to be more flexible now, with men taking on an increasing amount of the child-raising responsibility. In fact there are an increasing number of families where the woman is the main provider, rather than the man.
Breakfast meetings will be just as, if not more, difficult for women if they do have childcare responsibilities and, as the article states, it’s often difficult to find time to network during the working day as well; which means that something has to give somewhere. A balance is ideal, where lunches and coffees can be grabbed during the working day while occasionally alternative arrangements are made, where possible, to enable women to attend evening events.
Interestingly, a number of the women’s networks I speak for have a higher turnout for evening events than for any other time of day. Maybe times are changing and, as networking is increasingly recognised as an important career and job tool, women are finding the flexibility to build it into their diaries.
In addition to taking on board the helpful networking tips in the article and from Andy, at an organisational level, we need to start thinking twice before setting up pre and post-work events, to ensure that they don’t exclude those who would like to maintain some sort of sensible work/home balance – parents or not.