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Dorie Fain: Our greatest untapped resource

If we can agree that people and culture are the most valuable resources within an organization, I, for one, would love to see the force of stay-at-home moms and dads play a greater role in the evolving expansion of the “traditional” workforce.

A group of people who are well-educated and willing to be underemployed in order to meet the demands of their families, the stay-at-home crowd are busy people with no time to waste. Appreciative of the opportunity to be working and a part of a team that doesn’t share their same last name, the active moms and dads are people who have made the very personal choice to step away from their career path and often desire a place in the not only at home work place. These people offer an invaluable service to employers who can think beyond a Monday-Friday, 9-5 mentality.

It is amazing to hear the stories that drove people to stay at home when so many wanted to find a way to continuing working but in a more flexible way. Consider my friend who worked in finance with the same firm for 10 years. After having her second child she proposed that she would like one day a week as a work-from-home day. The managing partner denied her request, and she resigned a month later. She remained at home until starting her own nanny agency when her youngest started kindergarten.

A CEO friend of mine was prepared to offer a chief of staff position to a woman who was returning to work after 10 years. The only condition for her was a four-day workweek. He was prepared to deny her request until we talked about considering a different perspective.

My belief was that this busy mother of three would accomplish more in four days than most anyone else would in five, and the pressure that would be alleviated by having her one day not required in the office would likely lead to a greater willingness to work beyond the four days as needed. And this is exactly how things played out.

To be the employer of this part-time person who gives you a full-time effort is to access the below market rate, no benefits needed way underemployed gal or guy. Combined with the gratitude of this employee, who is eager to grow and contribute, it amounts to an untapped resource that most corporate managers are discounting and often ignoring.

Take my friend, Lisa, who logged tons of volunteer hours when her daughters were young. It took a few years of convincing her that her Wharton undergraduate degree, CPA and Certified Actuary licenses she earned earlier in her career, all could be put to good use as a bookkeeper – outsourced CFO to small-business owners. Lisa started to see the possibilities. She learned QuickBooks, set up an LLC, and now has a variety of small-business clients that she serves. The key for Lisa is that she is able to work from home with a virtual business during the hours that her daughters are in school and after they go to sleep at night. Sound familiar? Most likely Lisa was managing a similar schedule for her volunteer activities and now has found a way to contribute in a meaningful way to her family’s finances while doing work she feels great about.

A real estate investment firm I know is looking for a part-time real estate attorney to help manage the workflow of their growing firm. I can imagine there any number of attorneys who could fit nicely into this role. My brother is looking for a part-time assistant to manage his insurance business in Seattle. I suggested he talk to the head of the PTA to find out who the most active volunteers are to see if they may be looking to earn extra income during the school day. Whenever I am seeking to fill a new role, I consider who I know that is a super organized, get things done type of person, someone computer savvy and who loves Excel.

It’s amazing what you learn about the women and men who are currently stay at home who have a lot more to give than meets the eye.

Dorie Fain is the founder and CEO of &Wealth, a boutique financial advisory firm dedicated to women who are recreating their lives. With offices in New York City and Baltimore, &Wealth has helped hundreds of women who are managing the inherent complexities of the wealth management process.