Ben Black, Director, My Family Care

Work+Family Summary: August 2016

Ben Black, Director, My Family Care

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Regular work+family updates for
HR and diversity professionals.

Ben Black's monthly summary of everything you need to know about work+family - female leadership, flexible working, gender diversity and a bit of childcare and eldercare news to boot...



Just how pushy should parents be? Chanel 4's Child Genius programme caused almost as much debate as the infamous Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother all those years ago. Do you want your children to be happy or successful - whatever the right answer, it's great if you genuinely have that choice. According to the Centre for Modern Families, not everyone does. Its recent study found that a whopping 50% of couples delay becoming parents because of financial worries.

Female leadership

Marissa Mayer was back in the news. She talked about how hard she had worked at Google to make it to the top "you too can work 130 hours a week if you're strategic!" She's been slated far and wide for some of her comments - unfairly in my opinion. Getting to the top is often incredibly hard work. It doesn't need to be fair, it just needs to be fair between the sexes.

If it is such hard work, then no wonder so many married men in their late twenties and thirties are happy NOT to be the main breadwinner. That is the overarching finding from the American Psychological Association at least. Amazing, in that context, to hear the results of the CMI/Xpert HR survey that male managers are some 40% more likely to get promoted than their female peers.

No wonder the Citizens Advice Bureau was reporting on a 60% increase in cases of maternity discrimination. Personally I'm convinced the spike is an anomaly - it was a relatively small sample size - but worrying nonetheless.

Work-life balance and remote working

August saw Sweden moot a move to a 6 hour working day. If all we really care about is productivity, then it might make sense, but I can't see it catching on here. It does feel however that we're moving to the next level of debate about when and how people work. There was some decent data from Cartridge People about how much more effective people can be working from home - somewhere between a bit and a lot was the answer.

Meanwhile Glassdoor released its annual list of the best work-life balance employers. As ever great to see so many MFC clients represented.

Shared parental leave and gender equality

We released our own Shared Parental Leave findings earlier this year which showed just how low the take-up has been. More research in August came from law firm EMW Group which painted exactly the same picture. There is no hard data yet, but it confirms what we already knew. Take-up is very low but starting to move in the right direction.

The key to gender equality is getting more men involved in the debate. In that context, it's interesting to read Mercer's global parental leave report. More and more employers and countries are starting to treat fathers the same as they treat mothers. We will get there, eventually!

Not too much negative eldercare news

August, thankfully, was a month without too many negative headlines - I can't remember the last time we had one of those. Willis PMI released research showing that of the 1 in 6 workers who are also carers, some 34% of them had been forced to take time off to care. If you haven't got a comprehensive backup eldercare plan in place, then please ask for details.

Villain of the month

No competition this month. The prize goes to Helena Button, the Sheffield head teacher who told staff not to get pregnant. Sound advice for the students; not so good for the teachers.

Ben Black

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