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...
Fathers Care Too
Business in the Community and Santander produced the Equal Lives report. A great piece of research that underlines one simple fact: if women are going to have the same chances as men at work then fathers need to do more of the caring.
Most fathers want to be more involved, but organisational challenges and societal attitudes get in the way. No surprise then, that fathers are increasingly demanding flexibility according to Working Mums. Their McDonalds-sponsored research illustrated how much progress has been made (lots) and how much further we have to go (a whole lot further sadly) to really treat mothers and fathers equally.
Not being able to combine work and family successfully is stressful. CIPHR reported that in 75% of working parents suffer from some form of work-life stress.
But is there any good news on the horizon? Yes, plenty actually. What is clear is that some industries and employers absolutely understand the realities and expectations of modern families. Have a look at McKinsey on the topic recently. Sophisticated employers are finally starting to use their D&I initiatives and "family-friendly" as points of competitive advantage.
Labour made various vague promises about increasing the amount of free childcare available to working parents. Please, no! The Govt already has the wrong policies in place. Building on them would be wrong on every level. It makes me weep. We work in increasingly flexible times. The UK has complex and high-quality childcare. But it's expensive.
What parents need is financial help to afford the childcare they want for our increasingly flexible and varied working lives. In other words, demand side-funding. As if to prove the point the TUC reported on the inexorably rising costs of childcare (4 times farther than wages since 2008). And the Pre-School Learning Alliance announced the closure of some 23 settings. Yes - the underfunded "free hours" offer was to blame...
Flexible Working in the News
The big news was PwC announcement of its Flexible Talent Network. It's agile working taken to the next level. If your employer is genuinely committed to judging you on outputs rather than inputs then letting employees decide when and where they work is the logical next step.
Meanwhile Direct Line released finding showing that a third of new entries into the job market was already worried about whether their employer would embrace flexible working. And Unum's Future Workforce Report made the same point even more starkly. Whatever your life stage - for 80% of us a bit of employer empathy and flexibility is everything!
The Serena Williams Debate
I'm a feminist and I'm also a tennis fan. I'm full of useless facts and even count Fred Perry as a distant relative. I'm telling you this to validate my views on the Serena Williams break-down at the recent US Open final. To recap: she made the final - an amazing achievement for a newly back-to-work mum; she was penalised for coaching during the match; threw a tantrum; lost the match; and then claimed it was all part of some male plot and she was proud to be standing up for women's rights.
Utter codswallop. She is 35 years old and possibly the greatest female player ever, not a 20-year old newcomer. The reason men's tennis is in so much better shape than the women's is not because of some global misogyny. It's simply because the men's game currently has 3 all-time greats leading the way - two of whom also display model-looks and model behaviour to boot. Outbursts like Serena's put back the cause of working mothers as much as Ana Carrasco's achievements do to promote it. (She's the first woman to win a motorcycle GP in case you didn't know!).
It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the matter in our Work+Family LinkedIn group.
Elsewhere in the News
We're proud to announce the fourteen My Family Care clients have made the Working Families awards list.
Jo Swinson, champion of the shared parental leave legislation, became the first woman to take her baby into Parliament.
Anne Stevens became CEO of engineering giant GKN.
And sadly, Diane Leather passed away. Don't be surprised if you haven't heard of her. She was the first woman to run a sub 5-minute mile. It was arguably as big an achievement as Sir Roger's sub 4-minute for the men even if the level of press and praise was miles apart. Maybe Serena had a point after all?