Equal lives at work, at home

Business in the Community’s gender equality campaign is looking to commission a piece of work exploring the experiences and needs of men with caring responsibilities in the UK. The research will also explore the relationship between men’s involvement in family and women’s progression and involvement in the labour market, as well as impactful workplace interventions and policies.

Over the last decade, employers’ efforts towards achieving a more gender balanced workforce have largely focussed on supporting and progressing women at work, within existing structures that – historically – have consciously or unconsciously have excluded women. Employers have invested in a range of positive action initiatives targeted at women: mentoring programmes, women’s networks and leadership programmes targeted at women with high potential. These types of initiatives are all usually available in large organisations today but are mainly designed to help women play the game on an already unlevel playing field, and have had limited success in terms of improving gender balance at any level. 

At the same time, there is increasing recognition within organisations that we cannot engage in meaningful discourse and intervention around gender equality without men’s participation. Some employers are still struggling to prevent gender equality from being seen as a “women’s issue”, while employers that do have an active population of male employees get stuck when it comes to knowing what actions to recommend to truly shift the balance of power between men and women.

Business in the Community believes that gender equality in work cannot be achieved without gender equality at home. And so, to balance the division of power between men and women in the workplace, we must improve the balance of responsibility between men and women in the home

Giving men and women the same opportunities at work and at home is crucial to achieving a gender-balanced workforce at all levels. More women are in work than ever before, but their share of family responsibilities has not diminished – indeed it may have increased in recent years due to welfare cuts.

When women have children, they are more likely to drop out of the workforce and/or take part-time work than men. 37% of mothers with dependent children are working part-time compared to only 6% of fathers. However, research by YouGov[i] shows that men want to spend more time with their children and share the childcare responsibility more equally. Moreover, partners who manage to share responsibility at work and at home are happier and more successful[ii]. Employers need to take those aspirations into account if they want to attract and retain the best talent.

What is at stake is not only women’s progression but also employees' wellbeing. Indeed, research shows that partners who manage to share responsibility at work and at home are happier and more successful. This is why we encourage our members, and all employers to:

  • Offer agile working arrangements to both men and women equally.
  • Promote Shared Parental Leave (SPL)
  • Support carers in the workplace
 

[i] YouGov, ‘Equal Rights over Child Custody’, YouGov: What the World Thinks <https://yougov.co.uk/news/2012/06/13/equal-rights-over-child-custody/> [accessed 25 November 2015].

[ii] Linda Harradine and Örebro university, ‘Two-Generation Gender Equality Study Shows Career Benefits’ <http://www.oru.se/English/News/Two-generation-gender-equality-study-show... [accessed 25 November 2015].