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.
No more Childcare Vouchers
The costs of childcare just continue to rise. It remains the biggest barrier to combining career and family successfully. This time it was the TUC and the Family and Childcare Trust publishing findings which headlined with childcare rising 4 times faster than wages! It wasn't the greatest bit of research but the underlying story is accurate.
As I've said numerous times before the way to fix the childcare sector is simply to give working parents a bit more money for the childcare THEY want to use - that approach would allow the childcare market to mirror the agile working revolution that is going on alongside. Instead we have various supply side initiatives which simply don't work. The 30 free hours is a disaster as the campaigning group "Champagne Nurseries - Lemonade Funding" shouted loud and clear in October.
Meanwhile we have the sad end of childcare vouchers getting ever closer... it will all get worse before it gets better.
Judge staff on output, not hours in the office
The ability to work in a more agile and flexible way, and to be judged on outputs rather than inputs, really is the most important thing if you're one of the millions juggling work and family. Research from New Skills Academy showed that 45% of all new parents crave flexibility. Interesting stuff from HR Magazine on proving the business case. The reason to let people working flexibly is all about having happier, loyal and more productive staff.
Much easier to embrace flexible working if you're tracking some of this stuff - but as the Magazine points out very few employers manage to do that. Mumsnet was also in on the act in October. A survey of 1,400 mums had flexibility and some form of reliable backup childcare as the "must haves" for hard-pressed working mums. We agree.
Shared Parental Leave out of reach for most
October also saw yet more research indicating the incredibly disappointing level of take-up. This time it came from the jobs portal Working Mums citing financial concerns as the main barrier.
Recognising talent irrespective of gender
Have we reached something of a plateau? Possibly. McKinsey - always one of the world's best commentators on the challenges and opportunities of getting the best talent to the top irrespective of gender - certainly seems to think so. It's research, conducted alongside Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In organisation, is worth reading - global, comprehensive and a bit depressing in equal measure.
The BBC's 100 Women also makes for interesting reading. It celebrates the achievements of various amazing women across all fields. It's not all good news though. There is a general presumption that more women in senior leadership is directly linked to better performance and higher profits. The reality, as the BBC demonstrates, is obviously a good deal more nuanced and complicated than that.
The gap remains...
The results are starting to trickle in and they do not make for pretty reading. And stats from the CMI along with XpertHR are verging on the scary. The gap really does exist and is bigger than we all realised.
The secret life of the carer
Is renting out hospital beds Airbnb style the answer to our social care problems? Possibly it's one small part of the solution. Aviva's October report pointed out that there are up to 1 million secret carers out there. It can be a lonely place which is why, for employers, the starting point is often identifying the carers. Carer networks, with regular webinars and seminars, can be the best way to start the conversation.
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