Marian Jarzak
Mar 1 · 4 min read

Ellen Maier is a working mum with more than 13 years of experience in HR consulting for medium-sized companies. Besides her consultancy job, she has two small children — more than a full-time job. Her passion? Fighting for rights of working mums and make employers aware of the benefits.

Why do you think it is difficult to find employment as a mother in Germany?

Different factors play a role here. Let’s assume the “classic” case: A mother has between 20 and 30 hours a week to pursue her professional activities. In the afternoon she is busy with children. From the point of view of many employers and in relation to different industries and fields of activity, this is clearly too little. Most employers want maximum flexibility in terms of time, and the “face time” that can still be found in many places still plays a decisive role. Home office options? No, not at all. And this leads, for example, in the application process to applicants without children (who are then usually well under 40 years old) being given preferential treatment. The fear on the part of companies is that the children of the working mother are constantly ill, leading to many absences and that the other colleagues are frustrated and annoyed in the context of these absences. While the tasks that have to be done cannot be completed to the satisfaction of everyone. That is what many employers still think about.

What needs to change in the mindset of companies so that it is becoming easier for working mums?

First and foremost, it would be desirable for companies to become aware of the social and personal skills that a working mother brings with her: she can do a lot of things at the same time, is multitasking-capable, works very concentrated and often reaches the desired goal more quickly due to her wealth of professional experience. A woman who is over 40 years old has often already completed her wish to have a child. She concentrates, at first part-time, fully on the tasks in the company and very often has the ambition to increase the number of hours from year to year. After all, her children are getting older and more flexible. If an employer hires a woman in her late 20s / early 30s without children, he has a certain “uncertainty factor” regarding her maternity leave.

“Every company should be aware that the natural integration of mothers in part-time work will have a significant positive effect on the employer image”

As an employer, we usually face the big challenge that we are not the only ones on the market who are looking for new specialists. And the competition is tough.

What are three steps — in your opinion — to become more employment-friendly for working people with children?

Companies should already think about before opening a new job: Who exactly are we looking for? How should this new position fit into the existing structure as quickly as possible? What concrete expectations do we have of the position and person? Are the upcoming responsibilities really only manageable within a 40 hour week or can we also be flexible? What do we have to lose if we advertise a 100% vacancy as a “tandem option”? And in the end, it should not be the available, potential working time of the applicant that plays a decisive role, but his personality as well as his values, which should be consistent with those of the company.

How did you discover your passion for employer branding?

For more than 13 years now, I have been an HR professional with my heart and soul. For 12 years, as an independent HR specialist, I have carried out recruiting, employer branding campaigns, and organizational development as well as coaching for a wide variety of companies and industries and their employees. Among other things, marketing was one of the focal points of my university education. Thus, my passion arose from my many years of professional experience, coupled with an affinity for the creative and the ultimate goal of always presenting a company on the market in an extraordinary way and finding the most suitable applicants quickly and efficiently.

As a professional coach — what is a trait every employer branding manager needs to possess to be successful?

A successful employer branding manager must be a generalist. He must be able to quickly adapt to the needs of the market of the company he represents. The person must be empathetic, approachable, creative and, above all, always on the lookout for extraordinary and unique “pearls” for the company. And in order to address them correctly, it takes a lot of knowledge of human nature and perseverance.

You worked more in traditional companies — how do you raise awareness for the importance of employer branding in more ‘conservative’ settings?

This is and always will be a great challenge. The easiest way to do this is for the company and its management to have similar values to my values so that there is the same identification. As a next step, we need to to know who are we looking for, and for whom we are not looking for, how we want to address them and whether we are willing to take and plan extraordinary recruiting paths and events. If you always meet “at eye level” and have the same goals and values, then you don’t need any exhausting persuasion.


Got even more interested in the D&I topics? Read my interview with Ben Brooks and get to know what it means to be a gay founder.

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