As National Work Life Week begins, new polling from Working Families shows the career impact of being a working parent.
Two in five working mums feel they are held back in their careers due to being parents, according to a Working Families survey for the National Work Life Week.
The survey found that 35 per cent said that being a parent and having caring responsibilities holds them back from promotion at work, rising to 41 per cent for mums. It also finds that 50% of those who have additional caring responsibilities for a sick, elderly or disabled family members also feel held back.
The findings come after a workingmums.co.uk survey found that Covid is making career progression worse for women with nearly a quarter of working mums (24%) saying they are less likely to seek promotion as a result of Covid.
Jane van Zyl, CEO of Working Families, says: “It’s depressing to see that – in 2021 – so many women still find that being a parent stops them getting promoted at work. Half of people caring for another family member find their caring responsibilities do the same.”
“So much talent and so many diverse perspectives are being lost because too many businesses can’t move past outdated workplace cultures.”
Over a third (38%) of respondents said that the people who work the longest hours are the most respected by senior leaders in their organisation. And 44% of working parents said their senior leaders were not positive role models for achieving a good work-life balance. Moreover, more than a third (36 per cent) were concerned that taking time off for caring needs would be frowned upon at work, rising to nearly half (48 per cent) among those with additional caring responsibilities.
However, there was some positive news. For 41% of working parents the pandemic has had a positive impact on workplace culture at their organisation. Also, half of working parents say open conversations about wellbeing and mental health are more accepted at work now than they were before the pandemic, rising to 61% for carers.
Additionally, 54% of parents said that their organisation supports parents and people with caring responsibilities effectively. However, there is a fear that these changes will only be temporary.
“While increasingly high numbers of managers and leaders recognise the benefits of family-friendly ways of working, there are still pockets of resistance across sectors,” says van Zyl.
She adds: “But the experience of the pandemic has sped up a shift in how many of us want to work, and those resisting positive change will find it comes back to bite them: 85% of working parents told us that they would prioritise work life balance when looking for their next role.”
Working Families is encouraging employers to understand the importance of flexible working in building back from Covid, in attracting and retaining talent and to use National Work Life Week as “an opportunity to have some open conversations with their employees about the change they want to see”.
Meanwhile, a survey from Bright Horizons of parents and managers found that having a parental leave policy improved parents’ sense that their employer cared about their wellbeing. 88% per cent of those surveyed said they thought that organisations with parental leave programmes showed support for wellbeing, with the majority (52%) strongly agreeing. 94% agreed that simply knowing their employer recognises the parental leave transition and provides a supportive programme encourages a positive view of the employer, for instance, digital coaching solutions and in-person or video-based coaching.
Jennifer Liston-Smith, Head of Thought Leadership at Bright Horizons Work+Family Solutions, said: “This research shows that a parental leave offering which combines an online or app-based programme with expert coaching and advice provided in-person or virtually, achieves key personal and professional objectives for both the individual and the employer.”