Over the past few years, companies have become more aware of how important diversity and inclusion (D&I) are in the workplace. From company culture to talent retention, D&I initiatives can boost your company’s growth and bring out the best in your staff.
However, these initiatives need to be sustainable, achievable and have a measurable impact – long-term company goals need to be backed up with clear and direct action plans that deliver impact from the offset.
One of the best ways to promote D&I in the workplace is through flexible childcare benefits. With the majority of caring responsibilities falling on women (particularly BAME women), childcare support is essential to boosting the productivity and wellbeing of your existing staff, whilst setting up a solid infrastructure for future employees’ professional development.
Here’s why flexible childcare is essential for your company’s D&I policy:
1. Childcare helps talented women thrive
It’s no secret that talented women are being held back due to the unequal burden of care. A study by the Fawcett Society found that the pandemic has had a “devastating” impact on gender equality in the workplace, with a third of working mothers having lost work or hours due to a lack of childcare.
Although lockdowns have negatively impacted fathers too, studies by Exeter University and McKinsey & Company have shown that school closures and reduced childcare have disproportionately affected working women.
By providing employees with free childcare, companies can recognise and combat the burden of unpaid care – which has got worse over the past year but has always been a challenge for working mothers. Giving women support has the dual benefit of showing compassion for female employees and giving them practical assistance to boost their productivity and wellbeing.
2. Attract women who are further along in their careers
Of course, the same benefits that help your existing female staff thrive are also valuable when trying to recruit a more diverse workforce. Women who are further along their career development are not only more likely to have had children already, they are also in greater demand due to their skills and experience.
By offering comprehensive and fully flexible childcare support, companies can stand out and recruit the best talent to their businesses. This has the added benefit of helping to promote equality at the top of the business as well as further down – by supporting women who are 10+ years into their career, companies are enabling them to take on more time-intensive roles such as executive and C-suite positions.
Given that there are currently only 5 female CEOs in the FTSE 100, it’s clear that more female representation is needed higher up in companies – and childcare is one of the best ways to deliver that.
3. Childcare can boost your retention of female staff
The motherhood penalty has become a huge topic of discussion in recent years, and rightfully so – research has found that fewer than one in five women feel confident returning to work after having a baby. Over a third of women have even considered handing in their notice due to a lack of organisational support after maternity leave.
These figures are astounding, but not surprising. Restarting work after a career break is a huge decision, and ongoing support is needed for mothers to continue the momentum that they built up before their maternity leave.
Childcare is the missing piece in the puzzle with all of this. Research by Pregnant Then Screwed found that 81% of women need childcare to work, and that of the women who have been furloughed over the last year almost two-thirds stated lack of childcare as the reason. By prioritising childcare support for your staff, you can help your female employees find the work/life balance that works best for them.
4. BAME women and single parents are more affected by lack of childcare
Another reason why childcare is such a valuable initiative is that it supports racial diversity and enables single parents’ inclusion in the workforce. Research shows that the percentage of BAME mothers who lost work/hours during the pandemic is significantly higher than their non-BAME counterparts.
By providing employees with childcare support, companies can make a greater difference to parents from diverse backgrounds and nationalities who may not have the same support networks living near them.
Another issue that childcare addresses is the lack of support for single parents. Single parents, especially single mothers, are often faced with a tricky balancing act as they have to juggle their professional and personal responsibilities with potentially less childcare support. By subsidising their childcare you can help your single parent staff’s wellbeing and engagement, enabling them to flourish professionally.
5. Flexible childcare works because it can fit your staff’s diverse needs
Although childcare is a great benefit for improving D&I, it becomes far more effective if it can flex according to different working parents’ needs. Unlike creches and nurseries, Bubble’s on-demand childcare service enables parents to get support at any point during the day, any day of the week.
With the pandemic having sparked discussions about new ways of working, flexible childcare is the only way you can fully support your employees’ flexible working arrangements. Wherever your employees are working, sitters on Bubble can care for their kids – whether that’s in the home while they work remotely, or with drop-offs and pick-ups once schools reopen.
Addressing your D&I today
As the past year of school closures and remote working have highlighted, D&I simply cannot be a ‘nice to have’ to be considered at a later date – it needs to be integrated into your company culture today.
Bubble for Business enables companies to support their employees with free/subsidised childcare, so that they can be all they need to be. To learn more about how Bubble can support your company’s working parents, fill in our enquiry form and we’ll be in touch soon.