Please find a guest post by Fabiana Xavier, President, SheSays London on the limitation parents are faced with when balancing work with a career.
Fabiana Xavier is the President of SheSays London. SheSays is an award-winning global network organisation focused on the engagement, education and advancement of women in the creative industries. The London branch is its biggest chapter with over 4,000 members at weareshesays.com
Fabiana is also the creative director at Connectt. She is passionate about solving business problems with big ideas, is a technology enthusiast and is obsessed with simplicity.
Over to Fabiana:
Over the years, the majority of our members have expressed a real frustration with discrimination and the struggle to balance a successful career and family life. We’ve heard a lot of dissatisfaction from mothers lamenting the fact that women still end up having more responsibilities than male partners when it comes to looking after children. The implication for our members is often an acceptance that they can’t push on with their own careers.
This has to change.
Did you know that currently only 2% of eligible parents are making use of shared parental leave? Barriers include the financial hit, concerns about career impact and lack of awareness. Were you also aware that 9 out of 10 men believe that, both the man and woman, should take time out to care for their family. In addition to this only 50% of men believe that fathers are treated equally to mothers.
And if that wasn’t enough to shock you, well did you know that fathers are twice as likely as mothers to have requests for flexible working turned down and even though 28% of the dads in advertising requested a change in working hours, only 33% of these were successful. This has led to a third of dads changing jobs after becoming a parent to try and find their optimal work/ life balance. Pretty shameful isn’t it?
Well, that’s exactly why we have launched #ShareBaby, our new campaign to drive change around parental leave and pay benefits for working fathers.
In 2015 the UK Government introduced ‘Shared Parental Leave and Pay’, allowing both parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay. However, the majority of UK companies are still only advocating this benefit to mothers and the uptake by fathers has been minimal. Our #ShareBaby campaign asks companies to not only commit to offering these benefits to male employees, but asks them to actively encourage fathers to take them up. In return, we will pledge to showcase all companies that commit to this on our campaign website a #SheSays and promote this to our 40,000 members in 40 cities across the world, highlighting them within a list of good places to work for progressive couples.
For us, enabling parents to #ShareBaby is a vital step towards achieving equality in the workplace and beyond. Raising a child is an equal effort, and as such, we want companies to stop defining how parents parent, and instead allow them to share the load. By giving parents the power to make the decision about how they divide their parental leave and pay will enable society to progress and evolve with how modern couples want to parent.
Not only will #ShareBaby give parents the choice on how they parent, we hope that it will also begin to reduce discrimination against women of childbearing age, and the belief they have to sacrifice their career for a family. It will also remove the stigma of men taking time off work to care for their children, enabling them to feel more comfortable about wanting to stay at home for longer than two weeks or a full-time stay at home parent. Overall, we hope to be able to highlight that both men and women can continue to thrive in their careers, while also being parents.
Will you join in our movement and help give parents the choice on how they parent? Join us and pledge your support to #ShareBaby.
I’ve written about the inequalities of the workplace many times before. You can read my post on attending a government strategy meeting here.