Do not seek jobs for life, but jobs that allow life - Cherie Blair
Employers who make it possible for their employees to have a proper work-life balance end up attracting the best people and having a high staff retention rate, Cherie Blair, the wife of the former British Prime Minister said today.
Speaking at a conference on Balancing Family and Career, held at the Hotel Phoenicia, the barrister, judge and mother of four said her advice to young committed workers was: “Do not seek a job for life, but a job that allows you life.”
“Firms which show flexibility are attracting the best people. This is not a case of altruism, because they benefit as much as their workers,” she said. “Staff retention means a better trained workforce, high morale and lower stress levels.”
Mrs Blair noted the fact that the female participation rate in the workforce in Malta is the lowest in the EU, but acknowledged that the government is working to improve it. It was good to see, she said, that the plane she flew on for her fourth visit to Malta was captained by a woman with a male co-pilot.
There was no magic answer to equality and work-life balance, she said. Her own life was like a juggler of plates, with the plates always about to crash down.
However, it was important - and it made good economic sense - for every country to use the potential of all its people. It was not sensible to ignore half the world, in this case, women.
This was not about women replacing men, but about engaging everyone.
Mrs Blair said she was not advocating that all women should work and adopt the same career patterns as men, but that mothers as well as fathers should be supported if they wanted to stay at home, but those who wished, or needed to have a career should be able to do so.
A proper work-life balance was not only about taking care of children, but also about taking care of the elderly and people with disabilities and having a more rounded life.
Mrs Blair insisted that women should not be written off in their thirties, which was a difficult age for them, and they should be given every opportunity to return to work when they were older.
She admitted that in her case, she did not take much maternity leave, so as to prove that she could beat the men at their own game. But that, she said, was foolish, as it reinforced the obstacles which women faced. Maternity, she said, was special, and required special measures.
She regretted that there was still a reluctance in some quarters to acknowledge that work could be done from home. Outdated practices needed to be reviewed, she said.
It benefited society to harness everyone’s talents, and therefore, it should act accordingly.
The activity was hosted by Kate Gonzi, the Prime Minister’s wife.
In the afternoon, Mrs Blair visited Villa Chelsea where she had a chat with the residents and staff before making her way to the airport for her flight back home.