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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 April 2019

UAE firms 'losing out' by not hiring new mums or offering part-time jobs

Experts say a lack of part-time jobs and flexible working hours is part of the problem

Louise Karim with her team. Leslie Pableo / The National
Louise Karim with her team. Leslie Pableo / The National

UAE companies are losing out by failing to hire new mums seeking a return to work, employment experts have said.

Louise Karim, managing director of recruitment agency Mums@Work, said too many new mothers are often overlooked despite having the extensive, relevant experience.

She also said many female jobseekers were justifiably frustrated by the lack of opportunities on offer.

But she claimed the UAE’s attitude to working mother’s was changing, with instances of families where both parents held jobs on the rise.

“You find there are really good CVs [of new mums] that are just sitting on desks without being looked at,” said Ms Karim.

“Companies are using algorithms to go through CVs that just spit people out. They are not offering that human connection.

“People don’t even consider them which just isn’t right. There is a real pool of untapped talent here in the UAE.”

Mums@Work was established three years ago in Dubai with the specific focus of helping mothers back to work following career breaks.

The company acts as a guide and mentor to women seeking new job opportunities after extended periods away from work.

Part of their initiative involves organising short-term work placements with businesses across the Emirates as a lead-in to full-time roles.

In this way, mothers are able to reacclimatise to the workplace, brush up on existing qualifications and learn new skills.

“It’s a little like an internship,” Ms Karim said. “They receive mentoring at the companies they are with as well as targets to reach.

“At the very least they will have something new to put on their CVs when they complete the 12-week programme.

“We have about 50 ladies who have taken part over the last three years. More than 70 per cent of them went onto to take up permanent roles.”

Sheren Abbas, 38, a mother of twins who is trying to return to the workplace after an eight-year absence, said UAE firms needed to be more open-minded.

“Companies need to open up to the idea of employing these talented and qualified women who can offer so much to their organisations,” she said.

“It is so frustrating because there are so many talented women who are not being hired.

“It’s simply because so many companies cannot see past a nine to five working environment here in the UAE.

“You never see part-time jobs being posted online and companies are losing out by not having more flexible options for mums who are quite often highly qualified.”

Louise Karim, Managing Director Mums@Work. Leslie Pableo / The National 
Louise Karim, Managing Director Mums@Work. Leslie Pableo / The National

Emeline Raynaud-Seymour, 30, said she was also looking for a way to return to work after taking a year out after having twins.

“We are made to feel that we are not good enough just because we took some time away from the workplace,” she said.

“I’ve had some interviews but I keep hearing the same thing; that I am not up to date with the latest developments in the market here.”

Umera Ali, a partner at international law firm DWF, urged mothers to be confident but realistic when returning to work.

“Some professions lend themselves better than others when it comes to appealing to working mothers,” she said.

“The global culture has changed though and there is a movement towards gender inclusion.

“A skill set from three years ago might not be relevant but people still value connection; they want to hear your story.

“You have to be confident and realistic. There is no point applying for a director role that requires an 80 hour working week."

Updated: March 23, 2019 07:13 PM

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