Today is International Women’s Day. A hundred years on from the Suffragette Movement, it’s almost bizarre that we still need days like this to provoke awareness of equality issues. But you know all too well what goes on across the world, whether it’s the glass ceiling of employment in developed countries or the shocking abuse of women’s rights across the developing world. It’s also (apparently) a day to celebrate everything that’s fun and great about being female – I like that idea!
Essential Care is a company created and run by women (more on that in a minute) for women to make them feel comfortable in their - often sensitive - skin with the wonderful solutions that nature offers. I’m not excluding men entirely here, but in surveys you’ve told us that over 90% of you are women.
Margaret (my Mum) and I founded Essential Care in 2003*. And the wonderful team who’ve joined us on the way are also largely women. You’ve possibly come across the lovely Mary or Jan on the end of our phone line. Mary and Jan are super mums (Mary is also a super-gran) and there’s another slightly more obscure group within Essential Care – the part-time super-mum with small children. Cue soapbox...
After my first child was born five years ago, I started coming across mums desperate to return to work, but still wanting flexibility to spend time with children. In fact, an army of extremely smart, well educated women who didn’t want to return full-time to their pre-maternity day jobs, but whose employers weren’t prepared to offer the flexibility they needed. Women who were at home feeling intellectually under-challenged and / or emotionally torn about returning to work. I made a conscious decision to actively recruit more of them to Essential Care.
The first of these was Sarah (who looks after our retailers in the UK). Two children under the age of 8 with demanding school schedules for whom (and yes this is really true) she cooks organic school lunches every day. Sarah’s the ultimate ambassador for and (extremely knowledgeable about) the organic industry. Then came Kirsty who looks after our website and social media and is a bit of a makeup guru. Two lively, boys under the age of 6. She works around them at all hours of the night and day. And then there’s Isabelle who looks after our French customers and is a mum of four school-age children. Yep four. That’s a logistical challenge. We don’t work all day every day. We work when we can.
I firmly believe employers are missing out by forcing women to work hours that aren’t practical when also raising children or make long commutes. I don’t see anything wrong with flexible hours or working from home. Working mums are highly productive and great at time-management because they have to work in concentrated bursts of ‘child-free’ slots during the day. They’re also incredibly tapped into mobile devices.
I am so glad to have our team of super mums because of their immense experience and talents, but also because we understand each other’s flexibility needs. - My children aged 5 and almost 2 create logistical challenges like any other little ones and it’s nice to have a sympathetic ear to sleepless nights and school bugs. So that’s what I’d like to raise awareness of on International Women’s Day – the untapped resource this country’s employers have of the brilliant part-time mum. I’d also like to celebrate our great team.
And in all this flurry of femaleness, I’ve not yet mentioned another very important group of women – those who are involved in producing many of the lovely organic ingredients for our skincare. I mentioned them in the blogs on coconut oil and shea butter, but some time soon I will write more on them too.
*Not to forget Dad (Colin) who was the third of Essential Care's founders and despite being well past retirement age, continues to look after some of the numbers.