Why flexible working for men is the key to achieving true gender equality

I’ve been lucky enough to work in organisations that have supported my role as a father. Over the last couple of years I’ve changed my working pattern a number of times and my current role is my most flexible yet. I previously worked compressed hours (so full time but over 4 days rather than 5) and then I had a fixed work from home day on a Friday. In my role at the moment I am lucky enough to be able to choose when I work from home and when I come into the office and for how long. Now this doesn’t mean I’m not expected to perform to a high standard. As a project manager of a large scale culture change project, my managers have very high expectations of me but I am trusted to deliver when and how I want, just as long as the project is making moves towards being successful and is meeting all of its milestones.

This kind of flexibility has allowed me to take an active role in looking after my daughter. 3 days out of the working week I leave work early to pick up my daughter, look after her in the evening and put her to bed. Although this can be very tiring, it’s meant that we have built a really strong bond. It’s also meant that my wife is able to put the hours in to her career and as a result we both have the best of both worlds; thriving careers and good quality family time.

But I know that most dads aren’t as fortunate as me. Men are twice as likely as women to have their flexible working requests declined. There has been some great work done in the gender equality space recently and despite the recent gender pay gap report, a lot of organisations have done good work to increase gender balance in senior roles. But without also looking at helping dads to work flexibly and take on more caring responsibilities, we will never achieve true gender equality as the bulk of the childcare will continue to fall to the mother. We need to push for equality both in the workplace and at home and ensure that families have a choice to do what works best for them. To add to that, the future of working is mobile and flexible so employers are in danger of missing out on talent if they don’t adapt!

Business in The Community (BiTC) have launched a campaign called #EqualLives which will help organisations support dads to take on more caring responsibilities. The Equal Lives research, in partnership with Santander UK, aims to highlight the key barriers preventing men from caring more and the enablers which may support them. By addressing the root cause of inequality -- the imbalance of care between men and women – employers can allow both men and women to fulfil their potential, both at home and at work. BiTC have launched the Equal Lives survey to hear from employed men and women with caring responsibilities about their experience of these initiatives. The results of the survey will identify whether employees feel supported by their employer and help BiTC to develop best practice for businesses.

To take part in the survey (which closes on Tuesday 8th May!) click here.

As part of the #EqualLives campaign, BiTC spoke to a few different men about their working arrangements and they asked me to be involved. I was really happy to support this important campaign as it’s a big part of what MFF is all about; encouraging and enabling dads to have it all! Check out the videos below.

 


Written by Elliott Rae

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