Nicola Mendelsohn is a great example of how we are going to keep top women in the workforce after they have children.
The 41-year-old British advertising executive and mother of four has just been made Facebook’s new vice-president for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, one of the top jobs in the industry. She will will oversee a team of nearly 1,000, including around 150 in Facebook’s Covent Garden office. This is a big deal. But what is even more of a big deal is that Mendelsohn arranged it so that she would have a four-day work week. She believes that schedule allows her to be better at her job and better as a mom (she has four kids between eight and 16).
Mendelsohn said recently: “The industry has to more readily welcome back its best women. I would much rather hire a talented woman on four days a week than lose her forever.” Mendelsohn who is leaving her job as currently executive chairman of advertising agency Karmarama, has allowed 65% of the firm’s 180 employees to work remotely.
This is an interesting move, especially considering this woman works in tech, a 24/7 industry. This move is quite a contrast from Marissa Mayer’s ban on working from home for Yahoo! employees.
But I think what this really shows is that Facebook wanted Mendelsohn in particular, and they were willing to accommodate her to get her. Flexibility is the key to retaining employees in this age of constant connectivity. Even Mayer turned around as she recently extended the maternity and paternity leave policies at Yahoo.
A recent study from Canada found that women who have flexible work schedules are 75% more likely to report a healthy balance between their professional and family lives than those who don’t. Women with flexible schedules scored .75 above baseline – that is, all other things being equal, they were that much more likely to report a positive balance – while for men it was just .11, a score that wasn’t statistically significant. Study co-author Karen Duncan said this is because women remain primary caregivers in most households, and are thus tasked with the most juggling.