What do you think you are?

This is not a deep philosophical catechism designed to get you soul searching but rather a simple direct question aimed at businesses.

What do you think you are?

What kind of employer do you aspire to be?

It is not without a sense of irony that these questions sound parental (akin to a parent quizzing a teenager) because at this current time it is working parents that most need their employers’ to be questioning themselves and the support they are providing. More particularly however it is employers of working mothers whose values are being placed under the spotlight.

It is not without a sense of irony that these questions sound parental (akin to a parent quizzing a teenager) because at this current time it is working parents that most need their employers’ to be questioning themselves and the support they are providing. More particularly however it is employers of working mothers whose values are being placed under the spotlight.

Countless surveys, reports, analyses and articles have been published over the past few weeks showing the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown on working mothers:

  1. The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) and University College London found that for every 3 hours of uninterrupted work produced by fathers, mothers only achieved one as they are predominantly dealing with childcare and housework. [1] This fall in productivity clearly has a direct impact on their employer’s profitability.
  2. Another IFS Study has also show that mothers are 14% more likely to have been furloughed than fathers during the current crisis whilst the London School of Economics has shown that women are more likely than men to be losing their jobs because of the sectors they work in. In fact, of the estimated 2 million newly unemployed, 60% of these are women. The increase in female unemployment and furloughed working mothers will enhance the chance of employer discrimination and exacerbate the gender pay gap; a fact that may be conveniently overlooked this year as the Government has suspended gender pay reporting.
  3. The Institute for Public Policy Research has reported that an estimated 3.9 million parents may have to stop or reduce working to care for children who are no longer at school.[2] And as the closure of formal care services in schools and nurseries continues, alongside the restriction to accessing informal childcare such as family and friends, millions of parents are now juggling work and care. Unpaid parental leave is simply not an option.
  4. Lone parents and those whose partners work in essential services or have been ordered back to work outside the home are particularly vulnerable to increased stress and mental health issues. Women six times as likely as men to be lone parents, another demographic category that holds a disproportionate share of jobs at risk, according to a recent McKinsey article. [3]

The list goes on and all the evidence stacks up to show how women, and more particularly working mothers are bearing most of the brunt. So, who is there to support them? Their employers?

An employer would have to be fairly short-sighted to think that none of the evidence contained within the reports or analysis will have an impact on them. Even the most dinosaur-like of organisations who still don’t believe in employee support, flexible working or working form home will feel the consequences of others who have similar views as women lose significant portions of their income, meaning less money to spend, greater pressure on home dynamics for their male partners and an increase in mental health issues. Let us not touch on what message this sends to our children.

So, bearing the evidence in mind and assuming an open mind, what kind of employer do you aspire to be? According to a workplace wellbeing census published by Bupa in November 2019[4], only 48% of companies in the UK have access to health and wellbeing services. And support differs across sectors and company size. 76% of employees in finance and accounting have access to wellbeing services but only 26% of employees in hospitality and leisure. Obviously the larger the company the more is available. Just 16% of those working in small companies have access to wellbeing benefits compared to 73% in large companies. And yet those benefits are traditionally medical health insurance, even cycle to work schemes or discounted gym membership. But not typically childcare support. Not emergency care, but long-term advice, wellbeing support and search functions that make a difference both here and now but also for those following behind. There are established providers, like Parental Choice – Working Life solutions, along with start-ups like Bubble, who can supply the support. And it is very obvious that the demand is definitely there with parents crying out for help. Between the supply and the demand lies the gap, ready for fulfilment. And now you have to ask yourself are you the employer that will bridge the gap?

Don’t worry, you won’t be the first. No need to worry about sticking your neck out or taking a gamble. There are successful employers who have been there, done that, got the award. And there is not just one way to do it. L’Oréal, for example, provides all parents with a childcare search (nurseries, nannies, schools or childminders) as well as a wellbeing programme aimed at working parents;

Enterprise offers an interactive map of all good and outstanding nurseries within a 10 mile radius of its UK headquarters with access to availability and provider details;

Taylor Wessing subsidises childcare and eldercare searches combining those with a newsletter focusing on support for their working parents in order to create a caring community; and

Euromoney have developed a package of their own to rave reviews.

Each of these organisations recognise the impact that failing to support their working parents will have on their operations not only in terms of diversity and inclusion, but also financially and socially. They have understood that offering childcare support as a benefit has a consequential impact on productivity and profitability. They also have the foresight to see that they will benefit when the economy picks up from being able to recruit from a pool of talent and experience who appreciate being recognised and supported.

These employers have worked out what they are and the type of employer they aspire to.

 

What do you think you are?

 

[1] https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/14860

[2] https://www.ippr.org/files/2020-03/1585586431_children-of-the-pandemic.pdf

[3] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-sector/our-insights/covid-19-in-the-united-kingdom-assessing-jobs-at-risk-and-the-impact-on-people-and-places

[4]https://assets.bupa.co.uk/~/media/files/business/pdffiles/2848_24788_wellbeing_census_2019_2_bins_01825_digi.pdf


Parental Choice works with businesses to support their employees who have childcare or eldercare responsibilities.  We do this through helping them secure long-term dependable childcare or finding care homes for the elderly, all supported with a programme of wellbeing talks and presentations to provide emotional strategies designed to help with the challenges of juggling a family and a career.

info@parentalchoice.co.uk

020 8979 6453

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