Today is International Women’s Day and the theme for 2023 is Embrace Equity. Equity involves recognising that providing people with equal levels of support and opportunity is not sufficient to achieve equality, as everyone starts from a different position and has different circumstances. To achieve equality, you need equity, where support and opportunity are provided based on personal requirements.
This is a concept we embrace at Arrotek, but we wanted to get the first-hand experiences of some of our female employees. We talked to three to get their views on this year’s International Women’s Day theme, Embrace Equity.
- Deirdre Caheny, Sales and Marketing
- Aine O’Grady, Sales and Support
- Tracey Kelly, Human Resources Manager
Left to right: Aine O’Grady, Tracey Kelly & Deirdre Caheny
Current Working Situation
Deirdre explained her current circumstances working for Arrotek:
“I joined Arrotek in November 2019 working on a full-time basis, so 39 hours perweek. After a couple of months in the role, I realised the hours didn’t suit my commitments at home as I have three small children .I was feeling the pressure with childcare issues and the lack of quality time I was able to spend with my children.,
“I sat down with my manager and together we worked out a schedule that allowed me to reduce my hours to work around my family commitments, meaning I could start work at 10am instead of 8.30am so that I could drop my kids to school and creche. I also reduced my days to a four day working week so that I could have that extra time with my children whilst they are small. This flexibility meant that I could remain in my role and still be there for my children, this arrangement helped me as an employee and also as a mother.
“I have also been given the flexibility to allow me to work remotely one day per week and on any days where I need to due to childcare-related issues or other issues where it suits better to work remotely. This flexibility has greatly helped me in my role.”
Aine has a similar but not entirely the same story as Deirdre, highlighting the importance of the individual approach:
“When I started in Arrotek in 2012, I had no children and happily worked five days a week. A few years later, after my first boy Harry arrived, working full-time was still manageable because I had massive family support. But when Bobby joined our family three years later, I found working five days more of a challenge. I didn’t have the work-life balance that I craved and needed for a young family.
“Now, I work flexible hours over four days and it just fits into my family life and gives me the opportunity to be at home more with the boys. Having my hours tailored to meet my needs allows me to be one step ahead as an employee and a parent. I feel I have the best of both worlds.”
Aine explained she received additional support during the Covid-19 lockdowns:
“When the pandemic hit, we had no childcare, and we were working from home with two small boys. As a lot of us know too well, this was so testing. They were constantly craving my attention, and it all became very unfair on them.
“I asked to take time off and the next day it was all approved with no return date decided. The boys still talk about that summer, and I will be forever grateful to Arrotek for allowing me to put them first.”
Tracey explained how her personalised working arrangement has benefited her career:
“I have to say that working with Arrotek has been the best experience. The fact that I work part-time has never been an issue as I’ve always been given the same opportunities to build and progress my career. Initially, I was hired as an HR Business Partner and, within a year, I had proven my capabilities and was promoted to HR Manager.”
Previous Experience of Equity in the Workplace
Everybody has different experiences in the workplace, including in relation to equity. Tracey feels a lack of equity possibly impacted the opportunities available to her before joining Arrotek, while Aine has had positive experiences of equity in the workplace throughout her career.
“I currently work part-time as it suits me best for personal reasons, and I’ve always been very lucky to have great support and understanding. Before joining Arrotek, there were times I would have felt that my personal circumstances may have impacted on my opportunities for career progression despite my capabilities and skills.”
Aine explained her experience before joining Arrotek:
“I have always been really lucky in my work life. Resources were always put in place to help my wellbeing and performance. My past employer over 12 years ago was very accommodating, and I had the option of working from home up to two days per week. This was back at a time when remote working wasn’t the norm, and I wasn’t a mother.”
The Importance of Equity in the Workplace
Deirdre said equity in the workplace is very important:
“In my view, everybody has different circumstances and requires different aids to help them be the best they can be in their role. This is something Arrotek as an employer recognises, having supports in place to cater to individual needs rather than a blanket approach is so important and that is what makes Arrotek stand out as a great company to work for.”
Aine agrees, saying equity is about giving everyone a shoe that fits:
“Equity in the workplace means to intentionally and purposely and consciously ensure that everyone in the company has access to the support, resources, treatment and the opportunities they need to succeed in the workplace.”
Tracey explains our approach and the importance Arrotek places on equity:
“We always strive to work with our staff using an equitable approach. We work on an open-door policy, where employees are more than welcome to talk with either their manager or HR so we can work out an arrangement to suit both the employee and also the team and department.
“This could mean using flexible working hours where employees can adjust their start or end time within the scope of our policy.
“Another option is to request to reduce their working hours or days. This would need approval by their manager and HR as it may have an impact on the workload, but we always try to work together to get a mutual agreement that suits.”