Customer Service

The Customer Service Manager: Women & Work

In the first of the Women & Work series, I spoke to Paula who works in customer service.  She made some really interesting points about how often women feel that they’ve lost their identity after having a child, and almost have to prove themselves once more in the workplace. Read on to find out her thoughts about the current state of the workplace for women in customer service.

Whereabouts in the UK are you based and are you currently working?

I’m in Kent and I’m working as a customer service manager. 

Have you had to reconsider your career at all in the last five years?

Yes, definitely.

Do you have children and if so, how has having them impacted on your career?

The cost of childcare against the cost of earnings was a massive factor in me returning to work after maternity leave. Also, taking time off for the children when they are sick does get frowned upon by management, even though they say they are supportive!

How has your attitude towards your work and career changed over the last five years?

I am less ambitious now I that have children. My priorities have changed completely.

Have you ever experienced any hardships or challenges at work due to having children?

Only with taking time off to care for a sick child, being the Mum it always tends to be you that has to call in sick.

My employer has even said to me ‘well, your husband will need to take time off next time’ when they feel I have had too many days off. Which is easier said than done when the child usually wants mummy when they are ill, or when a husband/partner might not be able to take time off etc.

It’s not your employer’s decision who takes the time off to look after a child.

What do you think about the current situation for female employees with children?

I think it’s a hard decision to return to work after having a child and sometimes the employers are not aware of how leaving a child really impacts upon a mother. I feel like they just think mothers returning to the workplace are ‘being silly’ or not fully focused on their role so then the mother starts to feel undervalued.

Most of the time a mother will want to return to work, to get some of her identity back as a human being, but maybe won’t get the understanding and support that she needs from the employer.

I just don’t think there’s enough understanding or support in the workplace for women who have kids. 

Do you think there are equal opportunities for women to succeed at work?

Yes. But I feel like the women with children have to prove themselves more than women without children do.

What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap issue?

I haven’t experienced it myself, only what I have seen on the news and lately I don’t rate the news! But I think if a man and woman in the same company do exactly the same job then yes, they should be paid the same amount.

Having said that, I think sometimes it can be hard to do exactly the same thing, I am one of a team of five people and I know that we all get paid differently. Some people, even though they’re on the same team, may have extra responsibilities or do extra work in the background that warrants a pay rise etc.

What are your thoughts on Paula’s comments – do they reflect your own experiences at all?

Our Women & Work Series continues next time when we meet an Associate Lecturer and hear about her experiences and thoughts on the workplace today.

If you’d like to take part in this series, please do get in touch or feel free to either tweet me or drop me an email at [email protected]

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