2to3days is the UK’s leading marketplace for talented women wanting to work on a flexible basis. The company is committed to connecting experienced hires with brilliant companies in a bid to drive equality forwards and close the gender pay gap. It works with progressive companies from large organisations (PwC, Dentons, GymShark) through to buzzing start-ups.
Juliet Turnbull, Founder and CEO of 2to3days explains why her mission aligns so perfectly with Diversity Scotland.
Learn more about Juliet here.
Q: What were you doing prior to setting up 2to3days?
A: I began my career in the macho world of Chartered Surveying. It was a male-dominated profession, rife with presenteeism, sexism, ageism - everything that’s negative about the workplace! I knew there had to be more to life. A cancer diagnosis and the surgery that followed forced me to reassess.
I sought the help of a business coach and the experience inspired me so deeply that I decided to train to become a coach myself. I learned so much about business, human behaviour and what makes us tick. For me, business is a balance between commercial imperatives and people’s emotional needs.
At this point in my life I had two young children and was struggling with the conflicting forces between being a successful businesswoman and a brilliant mother and wife. I knew I had to do something to make it easier for women to ‘have it all’.
Q: Why did you set up 2to3days?
A: I looked around the school playground and realised there was such a glut of wasted talent there. Skilled, experienced women who were unable to find challenging, exciting jobs because companies just weren’t offering flexible contracts which would allow them to be present for their children too. I realised there were thousands of women who wanted to work part-time but couldn’t find their way back into senior levels of the jobs market.
Q: What makes 2to3days different?
A: I discovered that the traditional recruitment market wasn’t geared to finding part-time talent. SMEs were good at it but large employers and recruitment agencies (even though they talked a good game about the benefits of flexible working and diversity) were not changing their hiring practices.
They were missing out on a huge hidden talent pool – one of the most highly educated, skilled and productive sectors of the economy – but there was no single place they could go to find them. So I resolved to build the UK’s first online platform dedicated exclusively to matching and connecting highly capable women with employers looking for that capability on a part-time, flexible basis. And what better name to give it than 2to3days?
Q: Is there a reason why 2to3days just focuses on women?
A: When people question this I always bounce back to the fact that women represent 50% of the population! You can’t be all things to all people. If you lose focus, you lose the power of your message.
My passion is to look after experienced female hires and open up the pipeline. If we can help create more real role models, and get more women back into work, more men will be able to lean in to their family life at home, too.
Since March 2020, businesses have rapidly had to accept that flexible working from home does work. It can be made to work. That is, with the right technological support, great communications and trust, it can be incredibly effective. Employees are happier and more productive thanks to better work/life integration. Employers are thrilled their staff are less exhausted and more innovative.
This isn’t about being charitable; this is about doing the right thing for business, for people and for the country. In the words of the United Nations, ‘gender equality is a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world’. By closing the gender pay gap we can add £150bn to UK plc. By addressing the career gap penalty, we can add £1.7bn to the UK economy. Opening up access to the workforce for women is a no-brainer and we know that offering flexible work at senior levels is key to that.
Q: Have you ever experienced discrimination?
A: I’m a white middle class woman and I’m grateful for the privileges that brings, but I also know what it is like to be discriminated against. When I was a surveyor I was by far the minority. At times I was told to wear a short skirt and another time was instructed to allow a client to stroke my knee and flick my bra strap until we won the deal. I was humiliated in business meetings at lap dancing clubs and simply had to shut up and play the game. When I got promotions, people inferred that it was down to flirtation and never on merit. It was hideous but I put up with it for 14 years. I have seen the sacrifices that women have had to make and I want the world to continue progressing.
Q: How can a white middle class woman help women of colour?
A: I want to be the champion of all women and learn from Tony’s expertise. I’m inviting women to come forward and tell me their stories and help me fight their fight. We want women of colour to write for us and appear on our webinar series. Crucially though, we can put talented women in front of excellent jobs. All our clients understand the value of women working flexibly and all want to find you and hire you. What could be more useful than that?