Not enough women are being recruited into the local IT industry and this is largely due to out-moded recruitment methods, as well as a seeming reluctance, on the part of companies, to agree to setting up creches at work-places to allow the "working woman" scenario – which will be a boost for businesses and the economy as a whole.
This is according to Org Geldenhuys, a director of Pretoria-based IT recruitment company Abacus Recruitment, who says: "Working women have dual roles; they are, in many instances,
both career woman and mothers.
"Current recruitment methods ignore this fact; they do not focus on the 'family-friendly' aspect. They focus on the job description and on the salary – but working mothers need to know about the family angle, including finding a way to balance roles as mothers and career women."
Geldenhuys says his company has, since 2000, established a culture at the workplace that is "family friendly", including the setting up of a creche for working mothers. "We don't have a creche in operation right now, but we will be re-opening one in January next year.
Providing creche facilities boosts morale for employees and, in fact, we, as an employer, gain in productivity because the working mother – who brings talent to our company – is able to continue to work without worrying about who is going to take care of her baby. She is also able to visit her baby during lunch hours.
"A creche at the workplace, in fact, can be likened to having a canteen at the workplace. It is a value-add – a comfort and convenience creator – for employees.
Indeed, it has been proved that providing canteen facilities for employees, at the workplace, boosts morale and productivity. Providing a creche should surely do the same.
"We, as employers, need to move with the times – and not be shortsighted."
Geldenhuys says that people are increasingly eschewing larger salaries, job offers, or promotions, preferring to balance family life with careers.
"People are revolting against a hostile workplace. They want to spend more time with their families; this includes the wish to travel less, to be able to have more 'flexi-time'. In fact, people are turning down larger pay packets, opting instead, for less travelling time – and more time with their families.
"This is good news for society. But companies need to understand this. People no longer want to spend four hours a day travelling – and then 8 hours a day at work. They would rather opt for a job nearer to home that pays less.
"In addition, while setting up a creche at the workplace might sound troublesome, think of how much time can be saved – and, therefore, productivity – if working mothers don't have to rush off to a creche 20km away to take a sick child to the doctor. This is downtime for the company. But, if the child is at a creche at the workplace, time would be saved – and morale would be boosted. This is good for productivity.
"Taking this idea further, companies should consider having a doctor on standby to assist at the workplace creche in case a baby does fall ill. Again, this will save a lot of time and stress if a child can be treated 'on-site', so to speak. I am sure, too, that working mothers would
be prepared to pay towards this value-added service.
Geldenuys adds: "What boggles my mind is that company canteens are not frowned upon – but company chreches are. They both serve a purpose: providing a convenience for workers, a peace of mind – and this is good for morale, and good for productivity."
Geldenhuys also notes that people are "increasingly wanting to work more flexible hours, or work from home".
"If an employee can provide a value for a company by working from home, why not? Why must people commute to and from work for several hours a day if their work can be conducted remotely -and can be monitored by the company?
"Sure, certain jobs cannot be done on a flexi-hour basis, or on a 'work remotely basis'. But many can. And the trend that sees people reverting back to a family focus is on the increase. This is why companies who are trying to recruit women – specifically in the IT industry – are going about it the wrong way. They are forgetting that women are looking at the 'family value issues'."
One of the things that can be changed – besides considering aspects such as launching in-houses creches – is the possibility of changing how web-sites interact with potential women IT workers.
He believes that web-sites are an important way of attracting women into the IT sector, adding that companies should take note of the sentiments expressed in the UK-based newspaper. The on-line newspaper is adamant that a more "family-friendly" approach needs to be adopted.
There are certainly not enough women entering the IT sector. A switch to the pursuit of a more 'family-focused approach would certainly be a boon," says Geldenhuys.
"Women can add value to the IT industry – and to business in general. We need to change our mindsets. We need to look at things such as establishing creches in the workplace. Surely this idea cannot be that far removed from having a canteen at the workplace?"
In addition, he says, very few organisations are looking at recruiting women who have finished with their maternity leave – and are looking to re-enter the job market.
"There is a large pool of talent out there. But companies seem to ignore this source. Women don't stay on maternity leave forever. Many want to return to their careers – and many can add a lot of value to the IT industry and the economy as a whole. Employers need to focus on this talent source. But they are not."