Being a parent is something to be proud of, and yet many working mums and dads feel it’s in their best interest to keep quiet about this large part of their lives—and can you blame them? In today’s workforce, across every industry, seniority and job function, we all are feeling the pressure to be always-on and available to our work even when working from home.
For working parents this pressure is especially pronounced, with four in five reporting of working well beyond contracted hours. The fact of the matter is parents are afraid to speak up, and with very good reason.
Though pregnancy discrimination is illegal, working mums take a significant paycut throughout the duration of their children’s lives. More than half report that they’re treated differently upon returning to work.
For working dads, even those at C-suite level have spoken up about feeling pressured to prioritise their work over their family. It’s not enough to say to working parents, “don’t be afraid to speak up.”
We’re simply not there yet, but we can shift this dynamic. Here’s how:
Senior leaders set the tone for what’s expected of their people.
It’s essential that those at the most senior level grow more vocal about going offline for family-related reasons. Demonstrating commitment as a leader and parent emboldens working mums and dads across the organisation to speak up about their parenting needs. Not doing so only supports the narrative that being a dad or mum should come second.
There is a disconnect that exists between company culture and written policy.
Working parents need regular encouragement from their line managers in weekly catch-ups and one-to-ones to utilise family support benefits. The majority of parents’ worry of being judged, therefore it’s up to those at the top, senior managers and HR leaders alike, to actively encourage strong participation.
Working parents need tangible solutions.
Parents are more frustrated than any client or colleague when family emergencies turn their schedules upside down. No one takes it harder. While flexible working arrangements are beneficial, it’s a hard ask to stay focussed in meetings when your little one is demanding your attention. This is where practical benefits that expand access to flexible childcare are a vital lifeline for parents.
How will you help working parents?
Business leaders across the UK are investing in more tangible family support for working parents. Parents make up 3 in 7 of our workforce and without this sizeable, experienced talent segment our economy would not be able to function. Download ‘The ROI of a Family Support Programme’ report for research findings on the business impact this is having.