After many years of long hours and non-stop business traveling, I stopped believing in equal opportunities. Following my own professional experience I created a marketplace where individuals would achieve flexibility by creating their own startup.
A lot has been written about life-balance and most recently, life integration, but after many years of fighting for women’s rights, women are still facing significant challenges building a career while taking care of their family. I am personally all for equal rights and opportunities but how realistic is it to achieve that pinnacle?
After graduating from an MBA with expectations of total equality I became employed by one of the most prestigious consulting companies in the world. As a young professional I worked as hard as any man in the firm. As a woman I felt the need to constantly prove myself as a talented professional - not so much inside the company but mostly to the top management of the companies we were serving. Inside the firm, I had the same rights as any other male consultant. I appreciated and benefited from this.
However, after many years of working long hours and travelling nonstop, I faced an internal conflict. The possibility of creating a family clashed with my prospects of becoming a partner at the firm. As I was approaching a different stage of my life I suddenly stopped believing that I could reach the top as easily as my male colleagues. My reality had nothing to do with equal rights or opportunity. It was not my superiors that put a brake on my career development. It was my own decision.
After switching to a less demanding job, I still felt that I needed the control of my time in order to address everybody’s needs in the family. I just could not do it all and so I eventually became self-employed. As an independent freelance consultant, I now had the flexibility to juggle it all the way I saw fit. I was now the boss!
Along the way I met many talented women in the juggling business. Some women are very determined to reach the top and can rely on a support system to manage the priorities. Some of the working women aspire to a better balance in their life but have limited options to change their situation. Some are lucky to find themselves in a situation where they can give up part of their income/career in exchange for flexibility.
After many years of me living this fragile equilibrium of income generation, professional recognition and quality time with my family I realized that I could do something to help other women who were also looking for flexibility in their lives. So together with my business partner, Linda, we created Workhoppers.com. Our initial mission was to help busy moms easily find flexible work to integrate their work aspirations as they saw fit.
Once we got started, we quickly realized that it was not only moms that were looking for flexibility but an entire new generation of professionals, independent of gender and age. Millennials and experienced professionals coming close to retirement also need to find flexible jobs. As mentioned in a McKinsey article - Millenials: Burden, blessing, or both? -, “Make flexibility more than polite talk” is what Millenials starting families are expecting.
By matching companies with local candidates seeking flexible work opportunities, Workhoppers is helping stay-at-home parents, semi-retired individuals and professional freelancers achieve the level of integration they aspire. Freelancing gives a person the flexibility, freedom and independence to create their own income generating opportunities.
On the other hand, freelancers are an amazing source of skills for companies to compete in the global market, ensuring flexibility, acquiring the right expertise at the right time and allowing small companies to launch their unique ideas with limited resources.