I’m extremely grateful to be a Senior Manager of a Big 4 firm (EY) who leads the market in diversity and inclusion strategies and practices. But to help champion change and challenge societal expectations, it’s up to me to role model and lead by example – it has to go beyond words on a policy document. In that regard, I’m very cognisant of how we talk about flexibility, as small changes in our language can have a significant impact on how we behave.
I’m not an advocate of the term “work-life balance”, as I think there is an implicit bias here – as soon as there is a conflict between work and personal life, balance must be lacking, right? Therefore, I do my best to orientate my priorities and commitments that help achieve integration. This means making decisions that are closely aligned with my values and sense of purpose, as well as seeking experiences and opportunities in one role that may improve the quality of life in another role. This might look like the following (which is now a reality!) – taking three months off work in 2019 to spend more time with my three daughters (dad role), supporting my wife in her transition back into work (husband role), and returning fresh and energised to work to begin the new financial year (career role).
Whatever your approach, I encourage you to always reflect on and adapt your flexibility expectations and preferences accordingly. Finding a ‘perfect’ solution for flexibility may be unrealistic, but being kind to yourself is always within your sphere of control. Realise that you have more to offer than just always being available, and instead focus on creating value. It’s a win-win for everyone.