Female IT pros push for flexible workplaces

Business with strict cultures will lose staff

Top level management must endorse flexibility and facilitate unique work-life balances to attract women to IT, according to female IT managers.

Speaking at a Females in Information Technology and Telecommunications (FITT) event in Sydney this week, senior IT professionals at Optus and IT services firm ASI urged more than 70 female counterparts to pursue flexibility in the workplace.

ASI director Maree Lowe said businesses can attract and retain IT staff by endorsing flexible working conditions and facilitating a variety of work-life balances.

"Work-life balances are relative to ages and lifestyles [and] are key to retaining staff. Workers will be motivated if they have flexibility and are involved in decision making and are free to comment on operations," Lowe said.

"Women don't promote themselves enough or bother asking for things so they often fall short."

She said business can retain IT professionals, women in particular, if tele-working, flexible working hours, and job sharing are facilitated in organizations wherever possible.

Lowe has been a director of IT companies for more than 22 years and has served on the NSW government State and Regional Development board for small business development.

ASI grew from two to 185 employees under her directorship and regularly holds cultural days for all staff across its seven sites.

Optus senior manager Narelle Clark said inflexible workplaces lose staff when career expectations encroach on external responsibilities such as family commitments.

"Tele-working is difficult to manage but its success comes down to staff results; inflexibility should not be tolerated," Clark said

"But the work-life balance [as an independent notion] is actually a little absurd because the workplace is about balance, choice, priority and aspirations."

"Businesses should have flexible working hours, work-from-home, and offer allowances like maternity leave, phased retirement, workforce re-entry schemes and [allocations] for child care."

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