Can equality at home help close the gender gap?

gender gapSince the gender gap reports have been revealed by some companies, there has been an uproar recently about company’s gender pay gaps. There are several things a company can do to start to fix their gender pay gap, but one which sometimes goes a miss is supporting equality at home. Whilst companies are starting to support women with returning to work once having a child and offering them benefits when at work, men are the other half of the equation and cannot be ignored. It has been bought to everyone’s attention about the challenge’s women face when trying to maintain a work life balance, but very little is known about the challenge’s men may face.

A study by Equal Lives asked more than 10,000 men and women on their views of this issue. The research revealed that over half of men who have children or other caring responsibilities want to be more involved in caring for them, as well as 85% believing that it shouldn’t just be women who are supposed to be caring for their children. However, despite this statement, women remain 8 times more likely to take the main parenting role.

Although companies have started to change their policies to accommodate women who have had children or want to have children, it seems that employers haven’t kept up with the change of gender roles regarding this matter. Although the government have bought in shared parental leave, an unequal division of care for children and families remains bare and is causing a gender gap.

Fathers told the study that there was a low visibility of parental roles amongst managers and colleagues compared to motherhood. They felt under pressure to remain as the ideal devoted worker who wasn’t distracted by family responsibilities. Dads also revealed in interviews that they would often leave their jackets on their office chairs to rush off to pick up their children from nursery. Others also claimed how they would slot fake meetings into work diaries to attempt to make time for their families.

It has been noticed that women’s careers are affected the most when they take on the burden of caring for dependent children or adults, no wonder why men still want to act as the ideal devoted worker. However, it has become apparent that two thirds of men said that they would make time and use family policies offered by their employer such as flexible working if they believed that spending more time caring would not affect their career.

Gender equality is about giving men and women equal benefits and opportunities to realise what their potential is from work and at home. As men are now explaining that they want to be more involved at home, employers need to catch up and allow their staff to make the right choices as it doesn’t just benefit families but themselves and can help close the gender gap.

For employers to start contributing to closing the gender pay gaps, increasing equality in the workplace and benefiting both companies and employees, they must create a culture where people can openly talk about their issues. Balancing work and home life are difficult to do, so working for a business that supports flexible working and having managers trained to give the right support to those who ask for it is crucial for change.

As well as providing flexible working for women and men at all levels, employees should address employee’s perception that caring could affect their careers. Through sharing success stories of role model parents in similar positions that have been working flexibly or taking up family friendly policies, employees won’t feel so hesitant to take time off to spend it with family.

If employers address this issue and create equal opportunities for women and men, then everyone can benefit. Employees will have more fulfilling lives outside of the workplace and businesses with gain happier employees who are more engaged, loyal and productive in the workplace.