Equal Lives: parenthood and caring in the workplace
Equal Lives: Parenthood and Caring In The Workplace, produced in partnership with Santander, reveals that men and women have similar attitudes and desires in relation to balancing work and caring responsibilities. The research asked more than 10,000 employees about their experiences, attitudes and aspirations in relation to balancing professional employment with personal caring responsibilities for both children and adults.
Over the past 30 years, Business in the Community (BITC) has published a series of landmark reports showing why and how employers should support women in work. But gender equality is also a men’s issue. We believe that until caring and parenting responsibilities are better shared between women and men, we will not close the pay gap or achieve gender equality in the workplace.
Until now, most research in this area has focused on women. We made assumptions about what men wanted or needed but did not have the facts or knowledge to support this. Equal Lives: Parenthood and Caring In The Workplace sets out to fill this gap. BITC commissioned a team of leading academics to find out what men actually think, do and want in relation to work and care across the UK.
Equal Lives shows that caring responsibilities outside of work effects how engaged employees are at work, their ability to progress and impetus to leave, as well as relationships within teams at work. It suggests that if employers are to create healthy and productive workplace cultures they will need to recognise individual employee needs and aspirations outside of work; taking steps to reduce the gap between their employees’ attitudes and the reality of day-to-day organisational behaviours.
We heard from more than 10,000 employees, both men and women, who told us about their experiences and their aspirations. Men said they wanted to be more present for their children and elderly parents, but that public policy, perceived expectations and organisational practices stood in their way.
The research findings are presented in two parts, followed by a set of recommendations for employers and the government. The first section summarises what we have learnt about attitudes to caring and the reality of how this manifests itself for both men and women in the workplace in terms of stress, engagement levels and intention to leave, in short, why employers should care about caring.
The second section looks in more detail at organisational cultures and behaviours as well as how policies such as flexible working rights and shared parental leave can be most effectively implemented. The research offers insights into practical steps that organisations can take.
Finally, there are lessons within the findings for both employers and government which are summarised as recommendations. There is much that both can do; proactively promoting policies, providing training and support for line managers, and updating and amending legislation.