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Flexible working gives women chance to shine

When I sat down to write this column I was in the middle of some complex negotiations. Not business ones but the personal ones that go with my “other job”, that of being a mother to a 15-year-old daughter who somehow always ends up with what she wants.

This, and my recent evening at the Specsavers Everywoman in Retail Awards, led me to write about the fact that women make a unique contribution to retail.

I was very honoured not only to win Innovator of the Year at the awards, but just to be included in the same roll call as the talented women at the event, many of whom juggle full-on working lives with equally full-on family lives but still manage to be successful businesswomen, was special.

I’m also a member of  Women in Retail, an organisation providing support and development to senior women in retail, which includes advice on achieving a good work/life balance. 

I accept that flexible working legislation can be of concern to smaller businesses but it is best to embrace this and look at how offering real flexibility can enhance rather than hinder your business. Flexibility at work should not just be the prerogative of working mothers. A lack of flexibility afforded to working fathers can make it more difficult for working parents in general. 

One of my motivations for setting up my business 10 years ago was to allow me the flexibility to fulfil my role as a mother while also having a challenging job. At Hallett Retail, flexible working is welcomed. However, although support of working mothers is my ethos, it is not a personal indulgence – it makes sound business sense. Those women who are able to have real flexibility in their roles pay me back with amazing loyalty and hard work and I don’t lose their experience and
knowledge, which ultimately affects my bottom line.

  • Wendy Hallet is managing director of concession operator Hallett Retail

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