Anne Caron* was forced to leave the job she loved and had trained four years in to achieve a senior management position, after being refused flexible working options when she returned to work after Maternity Leave.
Anne, from Hainault, Essex, has two children aged eight and 21 months and has experienced a very difficult employment path since she had her first child in 2007.
Following her BTEC National Diploma in Business & Fashion at London College of Fashion in 1993, and a four-year BSc Degree in Marketing, Clothing & Distribution at Manchester Metropolitan University in 1999, Anne got a job at a well-known retail group as a Buyer’s Assistant. She was headhunted within the year and secured another Buying Assistant post at a top retail brand where she gained three years’ solid experience before being promoted to a senior Buying position, in charge of five assistants.
Anne was only one year into her new promotion when she fell pregnant with her first child in 2007.
“My company offered an amazing maternity package and I was given plenty of leave before I had to return to work,” Anne explains. “When I did go back to work, I felt quite strongly that I didn’t want to work full time as I was keen to also spend quality time with my new son. When I applied for flexible working on the basis of three days a week, however, my request was unfortunately turned down, and I had no choice but to leave the job which I loved and had trained seven long hard years in to get to where I had achieved.”
“I immediately acknowledged that it is quite difficult for Buyers to work part time as they often have a consistent daily workload that cannot be delegated easily, but I was happy to work in any other department which did not require such dedicated hours, such as the Marketing or Packing Departments, etc – and yet my flexible working request was still turned down.”
Anne has since found intermittent part-time work in healthcare and the charity sector, but has seen a 50 per cent reduction in her wages since leaving her well-paid job in retail, and has also felt unfulfilled in the roles she has had to work in.
“What is most frustrating for me is the fact that I have spent nearly seven years of my life learning many skills to be a great retail Buyer, only to have these skills and experience go to waste just because I decided to have children.”
In 2012, Anne thought she had won the jackpot when she secured a part-time Buying position at a leading high-street Card and Gift Retailer. On offer of the position, however, she was told that the retailer had now secured extra budget to pay her to work full time so she was unable to take up the initially advertised part-time position after all.
“I was absolutely dumbfounded that I was being refused flexible working, yet again, and suspect that the retailer was having such problems recruiting a full-time Buyer for the role that it sneakily advertised it as a part-time position, instead, to see who would bite. This has happened to me before, when I went for a Buying role at a charity. Again, they advertised the position as a part-time one and then said that they had received more funding so wanted to make the position a full-time role. I think I have just been very unlucky to have had such bad experiences in this way as I don’t know anyone else who this has happened to.”
Anne is currently unemployed and is looking for part-time work again following the birth of her second child in 2013.
”It is a sad thing for me to admit, but I don’t think I will ever be able to work in retail buying again. In fact, the details of my buying retail experience listed on my CV are so irrelevant to the part-time roles that I am applying for that I have now taken it off my CV altogether.”
*Name and some details have been changed to protect the interviewee’s anonymity.