An interview with: MotherPukka | Incentive&Motivation

How does your company feel about flexible working? If it’s more of a lip service than genuine flexibility, and if the worst words out of someone’s lips are ‘I’m pregnant’ Anna Whitehouse, Founder of Mother Pukka thinks that you aren’t alone.

What is MotherPukka all about and can you tell us about life ‘PMP’ – Pre Mother Pukka?

Mother Pukka began in a moment of frustration. I was travelling from work to pick-up my daughter at 6pm and someone got their briefcase stuck in the Tube door. This one incident meant I was 5 minutes late for pick-up, charged £1 a minute for every minute over and my daughter was the last one there looking quite deflated. I realised this wasn’t living, it was surviving. Having lived in Amsterdam where the system is more flexible, I decided to set about changing it so my daughter wouldn’t be in the same position in 25 years’ time. The name started out a little more ‘blue’ and then ended up at ‘Mother Pukka’ because my mum doesn’t like me swearing!

What problems are still being faced especially by women in the workplace?

More than 54,000 women are being lopped out of the UK workforce (according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission) every year for simply procreating. Having a child is not something to be ashamed of and yet it is something that cuts women’s careers short at present. That needs to be addressed through flexibility and support in the workforce – of both men and women.

How would you like to see businesses to change?

For individuals to be seen as individuals. Salaries are not handled with a blanket approach – the
MD and intern are paid separate amounts. Flexibility – regardless of whether you are a parent or not
– needs to be looked at on a case by case basis. I left my job because I was told ‘one rule for me would mean others would want the same’. So my lifestyle and productivity for that company was based on someone else’s ovaries essentially. It’s time to push back against that ‘one size ts all’ approach.

What would an ideal workplace look like for you?

One that simply treats individuals as individuals with unique needs. A company that sees flexibility as a mechanism to get more, not less out of people.

What would you say to the CEO who thinks that this is all ‘nice to have’ but that it won’t affect profits or that it seems too hard to implement?

Try it. Test it. Trust your employees for a three month period. Then look at metrics and facts. You
can’t argue with figures and that’s ultimately what businesses need to see.

How many companies are signed up?

We have had more than 150 companies sign up to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s ‘Working Forward’ pledge. That’s the backbone of our work and each company that signs up is an indicator that we are moving in the right direction. Companies include John Lewis, BT, BP, Virgin Money, Nationwide and more.

What’s next for MotherPukka?

I have a 30-year-plan. I won’t stop hollering about this issue until things have changed for my daughter. How can I be encouraging her to work hard in her GCSEs knowing the employment door is likely to be shut in her face the minute she considers procreation?

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