Introducing The Daisy Chain – The ultimate tool for career-driven parents

Daisy Chain is the brainchild of Louise Deverell-Smith, a working mum of three, who launched the business in response to the need to provide better quality job opportunities for career-driven mums wanting to get back to work. We spoke to Louise to find out more about the business.

What were you doing before founding Daisy Chain?

I was working as a freelance recruitment consultant, which I continued to do throughout the period that I had my three children. Although I was working for myself, it was a more traditional way of working and very different to what I do now.

What were the main challenges you faced when returning to work after having children?

The main thing for me was the guilt of going to work and leaving the children with somebody else.

How did you overcome that guilt?

I don’t think I’ve ever really overcome it! But over time I’ve realised that I needed to look at things differently and now I always try to put a positive spin on things. On the days that I am at work, and feel like I’m missing out on moments with my children, I try to remember that, in the long run, I’m doing it for their benefit and that I’m setting a positive example for my children by being a good role model. Conversely, the days that I am at home, I try not to feel guilty about not being in work because that is my time with them and I want to make the most of it.

Why did you start Daisy Chain?

Over the years, lots of my recruitment candidates had become mums and didn’t want to return to their previous full-time roles. Also, all my friends that were having children, what they wanted out of life now was very different to that before they had children. As a recruiter, I was finding it increasingly challenging, and frustrating, to find businesses that would be willing to pay a recruiter to place a working mum on a flexible basis.

Mums’ needs are all pretty similar and, whilst there are 2.6million mums not working in the UK, three quarters have said they would return to work if they could do so flexibly around childcare. Lots of employers automatically think mums only want to work part-time, or that they only want to work during term time – many women don’t want that. Plenty do want to work full time but are sadly too scared to even admit to a potential employer that they do have children. There is this stigma by some employers that working mums will always be off work when their child is ill, or they will be late coming in after doing the school run. All these assumptions push people into not even admitting they are a parent, as they don’t know how to bring it up at interviews or talk about it. To me that’s crazy, as being a parent is positive thing, not a negative thing in my eyes.

How does Daisy Chain work?

The idea behind Daisy Chain is to introduce a different way of recruiting; the businesses we work with don’t pay per hire/mum, they simply pay an annual subscription to be able to access the database. In this way, there is an unlimited number of mums that they can hire through the site. I’m hoping that this will prompt employers to offer more flexible roles generally and to think a bit more flexibly about how they can create roles for very highly qualified candidates.

Everyone that registers with Daisy Chain, both employers and job seekers, goes in with their eyes open and knows exactly from the beginning what the expectations are. We also have a clever matching system that kicks in when a new mum registers on the site. Essentially, each member is completely in control of their own profile and what information is put out there for clients to see. Candidates can select if they want part-time, full-time, flexi-work, a job share or freelance, whilst employers will search for candidates that fit their vacancy using the same criteria. If the criteria is the same from both sides, then those two people are connected. This ensures that there are no false expectations from the start and that both parties are singing off the same hymn sheet so to speak before an interview even takes place.

What are the types of businesses that you work with?

We are looking to cover a wide variety of industries, such as law and finance, but already have a very large property client database, as there is a shortage of women returning to these kinds of positions after starting a family. Only 15% of the property industry is female and there is a problem with not only being able to attract new women in to the industry, but in retaining and persuading those who left to have children to come back. This isn’t so much an issue at junior level, but more so once women leave to start a family and choose not to return to the industry.

It’s great that large firms such as Savills, Knight Frank, CBRE, Marsh & Parsons and Acorn all recognise this issue and have come on board to use our platform to attract women both inside and outside of the property industry to come back to work.

How do you promote the roles available?

Daisy Chain is a very different concept to traditional recruitment websites. There aren’t any live job roles on the Daisy Chain website and we don’t advertise the roles on traditional job boards. Our concept is to use social media to share the concept of Daisy Chain and get mums talking about it through places like NCT, PTAs and local childcare centres; all the places where mums are likely to be.

Even when someone signs up on the site, they don’t gain access to traditional job listings; they simply get to see the kinds of employers that are looking for candidates like them. It’s more about matching people and their needs over ticking boxes on a job spec. The reason we did this is because, having spoken to clients, we discovered that they all had flexible positions to fill, but didn’t really know how to fill them and traditional recruitment agencies were rarely able to meet the brief. This way, they can go into our database and, upon seeing some very talented candidates, will either hire them for an existing position, or create a new job to suit them. There is also no cost per hire, as they only pay an annual subscription to access the database.

You have a selection of fantastic ambassadors supporting Daisy Chain. What is their role?

As we have just launched, at present their focus is on providing useful and relevant content for the blog for our job-hunting mums to read. A couple of them are also offering their services to our members to aid in their job searches; we have a life coach and a stylist for example, both of whom can provide invaluable insight and tips on how to prepare for an interview. That said, we don’t want the site to be all work, work, work! We also have working mums DJ Annie Mac and Broadcaster and Writer Edith Bowman contributing, both of which we hope will bring some great content and life stories into the mix!

All our ambassadors are fully behind the concept and are working mothers themselves so are keen to help our members in any way they can. I’m keen to keep mothers coming back to the site; not just to look for future job opportunities but to use it as an ongoing resource for daily health and lifestyle tips, confidence boosting and to feel connected to the experiences of other working mums.

If you are a mum looking to get back into work, or a working mum looking for a change of career, visit http://thedaisy-chain.com/.