For those of you who are familiar with gemaker, you may already know that we are a company of technology commercialisation specialists. We are also predominantly a company of women. This is not to say that all our employees are women, or that we prefer women—we have men on our books as well—but the gemaker ethos means that we seek to create unique working opportunities that harness the skills and expertise of a range of professionals who have left the full-time workforce. For a wide variety of reasons, the majority of people who fit this description are women.
The 40-hour, 9-5 week is entrenched in the professional world we live in, but continues to be discriminatory against people raising families, undertaking caring roles, or managing other responsibilities that prevent them from participating in full-time work. Predominantly, these people are women. A recent report from Deloitte cites an urgent need to ‘stop wasting women’s talents’ and says that closing the workforce participation gap between men and women could be worth $180 billion to Australia’s GDP. As a result, it is incumbent upon businesses in every sector to provide flexible opportunities that support women to re-enter the workforce.
At gemaker, our response has been to build our company around a flexible employment model that allows our staff to choose how and when they want to work. Our working model is project-based, rather than hours-based, so staff can sign on for projects that interest them, test their expertise, and help them develop as professionals, rather than signing on for a set number of hours per week. As well as being great for our employees, this arrangement also means that we have the pick of any number of incredibly qualified, experienced and knowledgeable staff who have niche expertise and relevant workplace experience that would otherwise go to waste.
So what does this have to do with Christmas? This year we decided that rather than sending cards and gifts, we would make a donation to a company that mirrored our desire to provide exciting professional opportunities for women, and to assist women in re-entering the workforce.
After a bit of research, we came across Fitted For Work, a not-for-profit organisation which helps women experiencing disadvantage to get work and keep it. Fitted For Work provides these women with free business clothing, presentation skills and mentoring to prepare them for job interviews, with the aim of getting them back into the workforce often after a prolonged period of absence. The organisation has helped over 11,500 women since 2005.
At gemaker, we recognise the values that drive an organisation like Fitted For Work. They are closely aligned with the values that underpin our flexible working model and that belief in the value of the contributions that women can make in a professional setting. And so, this year, we have made a donation to Fitted For Work’s 200 Women Who Care campaign, in order to acknowledge the very real difficulties that many qualified, professional women face in trying to re-enter the workforce on the back of disadvantage, prolonged absence, or other personal challenges. The donation also acknowledges the fantastic work done by the Fitted For Work team and their 250 volunteers, all of whom contribute time, energy and enthusiasm into tackling the challenge of how to help women maximise their professional potential. We hope to develop an ongoing relationship with the Fitted For Work team and to start developing a network of organisations that have a genuine focus on similar issues so that we can start building real change together.
Merry Christmas from the team at gemaker. We look forward to working with you in 2013.