OPINION: Working women can have it all, especially on this day

OPINION: Working women can have it all, especially on this day

Judy Silkoff, Employment project manager, TrainE-TraidEjudy silkoff

Back In 1952, the rate of unemployment was astonishingly low – running at just two percent. But a cursory glance at the available statistics soon reveals the real reason for this: the majority of women were simply not included in the calculation, labelled as they were as “economically inactive”.

By contrast, in 2014, just 28 percent of women are classed as inactive in terms of job statistics and 67 percent of women between the ages of 16 and 64 are currently in employment. Women building careers and continuing to work after establishing families is very much the norm. In many cases it is a financial necessity.

“Working is definitely something I need to do,” says Rivka Graham, who works as the programme coordinator of a Jewish educational charity and is also the mother of two children aged under eight.

“While I love my work and am passionate about the charity I work for, it’s an undeniable fact that there are times when juggling everything is tricky.” Indeed, the concept of the super career woman who can have it all is far fairytale than fact – or as Oprah Winfrey famously said: “You can have it all – just not all at the same time.”

Finchley-based employment charity TrainE-TraidE has long recognised that when it comes to looking for work and succeeding in both employment and business, women have particular requirements over and above the baseline. The achievement of professional success is very much tied up with self-confidence levels and these can be influenced by so many different things, both positively and negatively Of course, women also have many other factors to take into consideration; they are usually the ones who get a phone call when their school-aged child falls ill and they are the ones juggling school holidays with their annual leave capacity. That’s why TrainE-TraidE launched its annual ‘Women in the Workplace’ conference in 2011, offering female employees and would-be employees, entrepreneurs and potential small business owners, the opportunity to network while learning new skills. “I attended the conference last year and it was a fantastic day,” recalls Rivka.

“The vibe created by so many women from across the spectrum of the community coming together with a common purpose was great. I learned a lot too – I was particularly interested in the social media session and it proved very useful.”

For next month’s conference we’re taking things to the next level. We’ve chosen a brand new venue – the JW3 community centre on Finchley Road. And in addition to the workshops and break-out sessions that have always been a feature, the focus of the day will be a vibrant, exciting Expo set up at the heart of JW3. Our goal for the Expo is to reflect all the varying factors that women in work have to take into consideration each day. We will have a zone offering coaching, careers advice and interview tips and practice.

There will be another zone for professional services such as PR and marketing, social media and digital tools. The third zone will focus on childcare, so working mums can really research the choices available to them and come to informed decisions. And the final zone will be the ‘feel good zone’ – we recognise the fact that women can and should ‘dress for success’ and should focus on their job search holistically.

The exhibitors in this area will feature beauty therapists, personal dressers and there will even be fitness trainers on hand. Ultimately, the modern working woman must learn to strike the perfect balance between work, family and social commitments.

While the 1950s housewife may have longed for professional fulfilment, her 2014 counterpart must be able to market herself effectively, excel professionally and somehow manage to steer clear of burnout. At TrainE-TraidE’s Women in the Workplace conference all these challenges will be addressed and more – with a complimentary cup of coffee to top it all off. You can have it all, even if it’s for just one day.

• The TrainE-TraidE Women in the Workplace Conference will be held on 13 January at JW3. For more information email judy@traine-traide.org.uk.

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