For Finance Professionals, A Third Way to Achieve Work-Life Balance

Whenever I attend a panel discussion on “Women in ___”(fill in the name of the professional field: Technology, Engineering, Law, etc.), a common theme emerges to explain the persistent gender imbalance in the more senior ranks of that profession.  With few exceptions, the biggest reason why women are not attracted to or considering long-term careers with many of the top firms in those fields – and thus why fewer rise to the top – is due to the poor work-life balance and lack of flexibility.

Achieving work-life balance might mean taking the reins yourself. “[Once they’ve had a child] there are two bad choices for women: go back to the office full-time, or slowly lose your career because you can’t go back to the office full-time,” says Katherine Zaleski. She and a partner co-founded PowerToFly, a job placement platform that matches women in Tech fields to employers who will allow them to work from home.  In their first year of business they signed up 60,000 women and 1400 companies – encouraging signs of a pushback against the dominant mainstream thinking that everyone needs to be in the office full time.

Freelancing: the Third Way. For professional women, the freelance economy is giving them a Third Way. Investment bankers, finance analysts, MBA consultants, and many other professional women can continue to advance in their careers or at least stay in the game without giving up most of the daily rewards of parenthood. Consider what they can do through Graphite: it becomes possible to give up a full-time job at a Wall Street firm and within the first year, be earning at a higher rate (on an hourly basis) but with the flexibility of working from home in most cases, and of performing the work at times that don’t conflict with peak parenting hours.

A study by the Pew Research Center in 2013 reported that 51 percent of women said being a working mother made it harder to advance their careers, compared to just 16 percent of fathers. It also showed that 42 percent of mothers had reduced their work hours to care for family, while only 28 percent of fathers said the same. It’s women who struggle with that work-life balance, while for men the impacts of work demands on family obligations are less of an issue.

Paving the way to a future where everyone can win. As more women discover online platforms like ours, the trend toward freelancing or independent contracting is accelerating. An oft-quoted Intuit study this year predicts that 40 percent of the overall workforce will be independent by 2020. At Graphite,we’re glad we can be part of this trend. Professional women work just as hard, often harder, than their male colleagues to learn their professions and win regard among their peers. Thanks to online hiring platforms like PowerToFly for salaried jobs in Tech and Graphite for contract work in Finance and Strategy, the technology has changed enough to afford that work-life balance while still having a fulfilling career.

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