The following blog is part of HRPA’s International Women’s Day (IWD) feature. This year’s IWD theme is Inspiring Inclusion. We asked HR experts to explore a few ways HR professionals and employers can create workplaces that include and empower women. Explore with HR expert, Amanda Giglio, how flexible work can play a vital role in promoting the inclusion of women in the workplace. Read more about 5 Ways to Inspire [Women’s] Inclusion here.

By: Amanda Giglio, Director of HR, Summerhill Market

Flexibile work arrangements have often been viewed as a form of offering accommodation to benefit the needs of the individual employee. In reality, flexible work arrangements allow an organization to grow and thrive, to be agile, adaptable and innovative, operating with diverse perspectives coming together to build rich solutions that are reflective of our society.

With current economic conditions, inflation rising, labour shortages and skill gaps in the workplace, women as a gender continue to be a vital resource within the workplace. Historically, women have been viewed as wives and mothers first; under the assumption that they will prioritize their family obligations and their careers are secondary.

Flexible work arrangements create an environment where women and people in general can do it all without bias; where being a parent, student, caregiver, sibling or friend is cherished as a part of your identity and those relationships give you a unique perspective to draw upon in the workplace. The pandemic has caused more organizations to rethink flexible work arrangements with things like remote work, hybrid schedules and flexible hours becoming the new norm. To truly inspire inclusion and increase the participation of women in the workplace, we need to focus on expanding flexible arrangements to allow organizations to hire the right people to do great work and not miss out on great candidates because of biases or traditional workplace regimes that are too restrictive.

As a woman who’s worked in HR for over 10 years and spent the majority of this time as a student and mother of 3 children as well, I owe many of my accomplishments to the leaders at my previous organizations. These people trusted me enough to get the job done and allowed me the flexibility to do it in a way that focused on my performance and results, while supporting my personal commitments. This was always viewed as a privilege and I will be forever grateful for what it meant at the earlier stages of my career, but today is about change – driving economic empowerment and inspiring inclusion. I now work for an organization where I feel like being a mother and forever student are strengths that are embraced and not perceived as weaknesses that take away from my obligations at work. Being in the service industry, not everyone can always work remotely or alter their schedules, but we try to achieve balance.

As an HR Professional, I hope to create flexibility in the workplace where the company and individual can cooperate to thrive together and that can be the new norm; where women can shed any guilt associated with the desire to have work-life balance and can do it all as wives, mothers, sisters, friends, students and career professionals.