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/eldercare news to boot...
Royal babies and the role of fathers
The Meghan and Harry story really is a fantastic barometer of the progress society has made. Archie's arrival raised a load of further questions about the role of fathers, shared parental leave, and how the expectations around work and family have shifted.
- How much time should Harry take off?
- When will Meghan go back to work?
- Who's changing the nappies?
Sure, stories about the brothers falling out and nannies leaving might have dominated the headlines, but don't let that hide the good news.
Mat and pat benchmark
The MFC/Bright Horizons Parental Leave Policy & Reward Benchmark 2019 is the most detailed look at how Britain's best employers approach the challenge of retaining their working parents.
No surprise that talent retention is the biggest driver. What's interesting is the picture of increasingly fluid jobs and parental responsibilities between parents that emerges from the benchmark. What's also clear is that if retaining your best talent is the driver, then there are a bunch of other very effective enablers - network, coaching, backup care - available as well.
If you would like to speak to the report's author, Jennifer Liston-Smith, please do get in touch.
Female sport on the rise?
Sport always felt like the last bastion of male dominance. Was 2019 the year when female sport finally got some proper global airtime? Possibly. It certainly feels that way. Cricket, equal pay disputes, Alex Scott's punditry for SKY putting many of her male colleagues to shame, the BBC listing women's tennis results ahead of men's, and Claressa Shields being the first female boxer to top the bill at a pay per view event.
Supporting working dads
It wasn't only thanks to Harry that dads were in the news. Society will be a lot fairer and a lot richer when the best talent is in charge of things irrespective of gender. For that to happen men need to do a lot more of the caring.
If you read May's press from Daddilife and MFC client Deloitte you might think supporting fathers in the workplace was easy. It isn't. There are far too many stigmas attached as the same piece of research illustrated. Dads increasingly want to be involved in their children's lives - but marrying that desire with a full-on career isn't the way the modern workplace is set up.
There is one school of thought that says if life is as difficult for dads is at is for working mothers, well at least everyone is discriminated against equally, and you get to equality that way. True I suppose. But a bit more enlightened would be to treat parents as an asset to rather than a hindrance.
Changing society's attitudes to the role of parents is going to take time but we will get there eventually. It's one of the reasons we are proud to be supporting the Fawcett Society's new commission looking at how gender stereotypes become embedded very early on in a child's life. The Society has put together an impressive array of experts from across the spectrum to come up with some solutions... If you/your employer would like to be involved please let me know.
GM became the first Fortune 500 company to have both a a female CEO and finance director. BestBuy soon followed suit. And Emily Maitlis was announced as the new Newsnight lead presenter.
Negative childcare headlines
Now that we are part of the world's biggest and best childcare business, the childcare news we share will probably become a bit more detailed. For now, though, apart from yet more negative headlines about the adverse effects of the universal credit, it was a relatively quiet month.
According to the CPAG there are an additional 300,000 children living in poverty as a result of the switch from childcare vouchers. Take the figures with a pinch of salt. It's the admin of the universal credit rather than the principle that is at fault.
Working carers - it's a disaster
There is simply not enough money in the system to look after the ever-increasing number of elderly people needing some help. The latest estimate is that 600 people leave the workforce every day to look after their elderly parents. We need some fundamental changes to funding which will cost more and therefore be opposed by many.
Making unpopular decisions simply isn't what politicians do these days do. The result, the desperately needed green paper got kicked down the road yet again.
For those that ask - the Bright Horizons / My Family Care integration is going well. There is a huge crossover in values and we remain as excited about the opportunities to do more things for more clients as we were at the start of this journey.