Recruitment: Working mums’ revolution in the UAE

Two agencies that aim to help more women into work have sprung up in the UAE, to address what one survey reveals to be a huge demand in the region as a whole, according to Ben Flanagan. Hopscotch and Mums@Work both aim to give women the working options they need to match their busy lifestyles. Benchmark takes a look at how flexible working can work for you.

What’s new in recruitment for UAE women looking to get back into work? 

Two agencies have sprung up that are specifically geared towards this market. Hopscotch –which was co-founded by mum-of-two Helen McGuire and her husband Justin McGuire – targets professional woman in the MENA region struggling to find the right opportunity to fit around their other commitments. Mums@Work is focused on helping mothers back into the workplace after taking a career break. Despite the slightly different marketing positions, both agencies will essentially work with all women looking for work.

How much demand is there for this?

Lots. According to a survey of professional women in the GCC by MCG Group – parent company to Hopscotch – 98% of those who were not working said they would return to the workplace if more flexible options were available. About three quarters cited a lack of flexible options as their reason for not returning to work, with more than a third stating they would start tomorrow if the right opportunities were made available.

What jobs are the agencies advertising?

Hopscotch advertises roles as varied as customer service executives, support teachers, HR managers and part-time digital designers. Mums@Work has jobs advertised ranging from personal assistants to part-time accountants and property sales consultants.

Don’t you need a visa to sign-up to these agencies? 

Mums@Work requests that candidates should ideally be either their husband’s or a family visa and that they have a no-objection certificate letter from their sponsor stating that they are allowed to work.

Do these agencies only offer part-time jobs?

While flexible and part-time work options are a focus, both agencies do have some full time positions available too. Online job boards are updated regularly with all vacancies, or you can talk to a consultant to make sure you hear about the roles that fit your availability.

What about temporary work?

Again, the emphasis of both agencies is flexibility. What works for one woman might not suit another so there are a wide range of working options available including fixed-term, project work and even roles covering another woman’s maternity leave.

Are all jobs office-based?

This depends on the role and company you’re applying for. Some jobs or tasks might need to be office-based, but if home-working is a priority for you then these agencies will be able to advise you on the roles that are best for your needs.

What benefit packages are on offer?

As with all jobs, the benefits package depends on the company, the role and the individual they are looking to recruit. Recruitment agencies don’t offer a set package, but they can work with you and a prospective employer to ensure you are happy with a job offer.

What about maternity leave?

The maternity leave provision under UAE labour law is 45 days and most companies will use this as their policy. However, if this is something that would be a “deal-breaker” for you, talk to your recruitment agency and see if they can make any suggestions to help find a suitable role. Some companies may offer flexibility on this, for example, Omnicom Media Group MENA recently increased its maternity leave to 90 days as part of a programme to support new mothers in its organisation.

What else is included in Omnicom’s programme?

In recognition of the value of its female employees, Omnicom Media Group MENA is rolling out the programme to provide them with increasing support through the offer of flexible working hours, extended maternity leave, and empowerment and mentorship schemes.

Are there other ways to access such schemes?

To participate in the Omnicom programme you’ll need to be employed by the company. However, there are various business groups for women that offer similar schemes to members. In addition, Mums@Work offers mentoring to job candidates and is launching a series of ‘Back to Work’ workshops that anyone can register to be part of. Hopscotch offers one-to-one coaching and group workshops for women, so there are plenty of options available to improve your workplace – and even interview – skills.

Before getting to the interview stage, is help available to write a CV?

Yes, but both agencies offer this in slightly different ways. Hopscotch does not have an individual CV writing service, but CVs are included in one of its workshops, meaning you will be armed with the skills you need to produce your own resume. Mums@Work has a team of experienced consultants and industry experts on hand to offer advice and help on how you can update your CV. So, there’s no reason not to get started.