3 ways to make change happen according to @mother_pukka

Anna Whitehouse: My Toolkit For Good
Welcome to Stylist's 'Toolkit For Good' series in partnership with bareMinerals. In this three-part series, we speak to women who have harnessed their power to make positive change happen and learn how we can do the same. This week, we speak to Anne Whitehouse (aka @mother_pukka) who is campaigning for flexible working beyond the pandemic – here's her toolkit on how we can all make change happen, regardless of who we are…

"Back in 2015 I had a job I loved, but the hours were long and rigid and managing my daughters' childcare felt almost impossible.

"I'd asked my employer about flexible working, but they refused because it would 'open the floodgates' to others wanting the same thing. One evening, I was 12 minutes late to nursery pick-up because my briefcase had got trapped in a Tube door. When I arrived my daughter was crying and the nursery charged me £1 for every extra minute they'd had her. I felt broken by the stress.

"I knew I had to quit, but I remember thinking, 'My girls can't go through this when they're older.' Since then, I've been fighting for flexible working for all, through my campaign Flex Appeal. Mother Pukka recently conducted research that found flexible working already contributes £37billion to the UK economy. Increasing current rates by 50% could unlock a further £55billion, while creating 51,200 new jobs and the pandemic has shown us myriad ways to do it.

"As we speak, there is the Employment Bill that seeks to make provisions for the rights of workers being read in the House Of Commons. Alongside a team of amazing female barristers, I recently convinced the Bar Council to send an official message to the Law Commission, arguing that the government should look at overhauling the 'entire area of law' around flexible working.

"Here's what I've learned along the way."

First things first...
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Secondly...

When it comes to making big changes happen, reach out to those already in power – you'd be surprised at what happens. I think we talk ourselves out of raising our voices because we think, "Why would someone listen to me?" But I sent emails to women I respected highly, to women who had achieved what I wanted to achieve. I had no name. Nobody knew who I was. And I heard back from Sophie Walker, the leader of the Women's Equality Party who became my mentor through all of this. Don't forget the power of social media either. It gets a bad rep, but how many women's voices wouldn't be heard, if we didn't have social media? Use it as the free marketing and networking tool that it is.

Thirdly...

Remember the power you have within your own organisation. If you're working in a company and you want to make change, give it a go. At HSBC, they launched a flexible working podcast and they got people from outside the organisation to come on the podcast and talk about what they're doing. It was set up by two employees who wanted to change things internally and they approached the CEO and said, "We want to do this, it's a great idea", and he gave them a budget and off they went and did it. This is a great way to make change happen, to ask those at the top and make yourself heard – there's usually a budget for change that you don't know about and we all hold more individual power than we realise.

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