Gender Director, Business in the Community
Having a flexible career that allows for caring responsibilities and work shouldn’t be something women are apologetic for.
Women need to be able to care loudly. That means being able to be proud of all the roles they have in life — as workers and carers — without having to apologise to employers for having to leave early for the school run or hide the fact they have caring responsibilities, for fear of being overlooked for a promotion. But this isn’t happening.
Barriers for women
Business in the Community (BITC)’s research, developed in partnership with Ipsos Mori found that a partner’s long hours and inflexible working patterns,followed by financial circumstances and an unsupportive working culture were key barriers as to why ‘caring loudly’ is not possible for everyone. Our research found that women are leaving the workplace, with one in five women leaving a job as a result of this precarious balancing act.1
What women want
The risk is that with the cost of living crisis on our doorstep, the number of resignations will rise at a time when employees need help, flexibility and understanding from their employers. Around the country, the reality facing many parents is that weekly childcare bills are costing more than half their weekly take-home pay.2
Our research found that women are leaving the workplace, with one in five women leaving a job as a result of this precarious balancing act.
But change is possible. We just need more employers to take faster, bolder, braver action that we know works for employees. The three things working carers want the most from their employers to support them are:
- Good policies and practices for parents and carers
- The ability to work flexibly
- A culture that supports work-life balance
If we are to realise the ambition of ‘having it all’ as a world in which work works for everyone, then my Christmas wish would be for employers to look at their parental leave policies. The current policies are highly unequal with lasting implications for gender equity. Unequal parental leave is a key structural barrier to closing the gender pay gap, but without employers taking action on this now, the gender pay gap will increase — and women will feel the brunt of it.
By moving the dialogue from where we work to how and when we work, employers can enable everyone to care loudly. That, truly, would be having it all.
 Business in the Community, Oct 2022. Weekly childcare costing some parents more than half of their take-home pay, new analysis shows