Category Archives: Working parent

Pressing for progress: Making law a family friendly profession

Sally Macindoe

Traditionally, the law industry has been notorious for its unfamily-friendly workplace practices, which have particularly penalised mothers in need of flexibility  from reaching their full career potential. But times are changing, the ‘old’ model of practising law is being disrupted (and not just by technology).

The ‘exclusivity’ status quo is being challenged and a new ‘inclusive’ culture is being championed by some progressive firms determined to help shape a brave new world within their industry – a world where practising law and parenthood at the same time (and being supported to do so) is the new ‘norm’. This simple shift in culture, policy and attitude is helping elevate women into leadership roles and contributing to tackling gender inequality.

I recently interviewed Sally Macindoe, Partner and Global Head of Diversity for international firm Norton Rose Fulbright about her own personal experience and what the firm is doing to help their people manage career and caring responsibilities so they can thrive in all areas of life. Sally suggests there is an opportunity to “look at the innovative ways that structurally change the way we practice law that will create a more inclusive environment which provides options for people that need to work in different ways.”

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Addressing the ‘motherhood penalty’: Make dads more than an ‘optional extra’ in parental leave policy to close the gender equality gap

Three hands of the same family.

The number of working parents – particularly working mothers – continues to rise and yet the number dads taking parental leave persistently isn’t budging – with only 2% of Australian dads taking parental leave.

“An investigation by the Diversity Council in 2014 found raising children accounted for ‘a 17% loss in lifetime wages for women’. . . When it comes to family dynamics, change has been fairly slow in Australia.” (Matt Wade, SMH)

Why is this the case despite clear evidence that a society – all aspects of it (work, community and home life) – greatly benefits from embracing gender equality, not just in word but in action? Why are Australian women continuing to lose out when it comes to their careers? Why are men continuing to lose out when it comes to spending time with their children? And why are employers not seeing the value in what facilitating greater ease – for both sexes – in managing work and family responsibilities?

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Design your life in 6 simple steps? We interview the author that explains how

Think, Plan, Live Social Card

Listen to the podcast here
Read the interview with Gill McLaren here

Recently our CEO, Emma Walsh, interviewed Gill McLaren, author of Think, Plan Live; a step- by- step workbook and coaching guide to defining and designing your best life.

 In today’s busy lifestyle, the core of life design is working out what you want, and “really blending your career and your personal life, so it’s optimal for you.”

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Balancing work and family: Tips for single fathers

Daniel Sherwin Single Father Photo

Single fathers today face a deeply rooted social bias that calls into question their ability to meet the demands of parenthood. It’s a prejudicial view that’s been around for decades. The New York Times reported 30 years ago on a study which found that single dads felt discriminated against because of an image which vilified them as negligent, even though those questioned indicated they were simply trying to provide for their kids. One respondent wrote that he’d been made to feel like a “freak.”

Persistent ideas about gender roles insist that men can’t be nurturing parents, or fulfill the vitally important role normally filled by a mother. It’s often said that dads just don’t have enough time to devote to their kids’ needs, or that they don’t know enough about parenting. Such preconceptions have been at work in the family court system for decades. Many judges still favor mothers in custody cases because they’re perceived to have a natural predilection for parenting. In fact, it is estimated that women are awarded custody at least 68 percent of the time. These ideas and beliefs are breaking down but they are still there nonetheless and that’s a problem as the divide it creates in our homes, workplaces and community is keeping both men and women at a disadvantage from living a fulfilling and balanced life. In particular, it’s holding women back in the workplace from advancing their career and men from embracing their innate caring nature which, when nurtured, can also speak volumes in our workplaces. Continue reading

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Tips for single working parents

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Single parent families are now the single fastest growing family type in Australia. It has been predicted that over the next 20 years, the numbers of one-parent families will soar by up to 70%. Single parents face different (not necessarily more) challenges to coupled parents. Their needs are unique. One of our working parents recently asked for some support in this area.

Here are some resources and tools offered by one of the single parents on our Parents@Work team…

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Reducing re-entry anxiety: how employers can help new parents

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As a business owner, I understand the challenges that come along with keeping employees motivated and engaged at work. Here at Kids & Company we put a lot of effort into making our employees feel supported, appreciated and secure. This becomes especially important when employees go on maternity leave and are away for extended periods of time.
When the Canadian Government increased parental leave to 35 weeks a decade ago, it seemed great; but the reality is, 35 weeks away is a very long time – long enough to lose touch with colleagues and friends, to feel alienated and awkward when faced with changes like employee turnover.  According to Statistics Canada (2014), only 29 per cent of parents with children under 18 are currently employed, proving that returning to work isn’t as simple as falling back into routine.

Employee engagement is a daily challenge for those in HR. They understand that most employees want to maintain a connection with their workplace while on maternity leave, and know that they play a key role in keeping this connection alive.

Losing great employees is more than a HR issue. The average cost of replacing employees can be anywhere from 40 to 400 per cent of the annual salary for that position, making turnover a huge expense from a financial perspective, so it’s worthwhile to invest in easing the transition from home back to work, rather than lose resources.

But how do they do it?

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Connecting with Kids: Building resilience and self-worth in your children – Our special event reviewed

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Yesterday Parents@Work hosted their first special event Connecting with Kids: Building resilience and self-worth in your children. Emma Walsh, founder of Parents@Work interviewed positive psychologist Sarah-Jayne Whiston from Bright Ideas Psychology.

The interaction and personal sharing’s of Sarah-Jayne and the other participants on the call (including our host Emma!) were invaluable. It felt like a very supportive place to delve into some hot topics we don’t often get the chance to explore in our day-to-day business of being a working parent.

The session was jam packed with gems of wisdom but the key take-outs were…

  • We build strong foundations of a deep connection with our children by consistently offering them open and honest communication
  • Question yourself: ‘how much are you really open to the connection and understanding of the ‘world of the child’?
  • Honour your child when they offer a reflection – check in with your own ‘vibe’ or energy and ask yourself if you could be a more active listener.
  • Self-care is our number one responsibility as a parent. Similar to being on a flight – we need to adjust our facemask in an emergency first if we are to effectively support another.
  • Mindfulness and ‘dropping back into the body’ are key tools to developing great self-awareness and self-care.
  • Take care how you’re thinking about work. You choose how you start your day and remember your presence is contagious – there is a great responsibility in that – both as a parents and a worker.
  • It is normal to be human and make mistakes – no one is perfect, not even Supermum! Bring understanding to the picture whenever things go awry.
  • Communication and expression doesn’t always have to be positive. Allow space for all feelings – your own and your child’s.
  • Bring lightness to the mix. A playful attitude as well as being present, understanding and flexible are key ingredients to building a strong connection with children of any age.
  • Quality over quantity time with children needs to be valued, especially where guilt gets in the way of a parents perception or judgement of themselves.
  • It is possible to re-build a deep connection when children get older. We can do this by adapting to their changing needs, offering them more responsibility to build trust and allowing them the space to make their own mistakes without judgement or ridicule.
  • We can support children to deal with bullying and peer pressure by equipping them with the skills to 1) deal with rejection and 2) to respond in a way that fosters self-empowerment and integrity i.e. role modelling what loving behaviour looks like.

Dialling in to the teleconference on my mobile made the experience so simple to be a part of. I didn’t feel the need to speak as I didn’t have any burning questions at the time however I got so much out of hearing the experiences and queries of other working parents – they actually helped me realise I did have some questions!

Thank you SJ, Emma and Parents@Work – I’m definitely looking forward to more.

Teleconference attendee and working parent.

The Recording

If you missed out on joining this special event and would like a recording of the call, please request one via bookings@parentsatwork.com.au.

Further Information

If you would like to get in touch with Sarah-Jayne Whiston visit Bright Ideas Psychology.


T: 0423 220 776

Suite 310, 20 Dale Street, Brookvale

www.brightideaspsych.com

www.facebook.com/BrightIdeasCoach

Another great resource SJ recommends for working parents is the Raising Children website. They have a whole series on Work and Child Care articles.

Connecting with Kids:  Building resilience and self-worth in your children Course Outline.

More special events are already planned. To receive updates and what courses and special events Parents@Work run subscribe to our monthly newsletter here (scroll to the bottom of the page for the sign up form).

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Gender Equality in the Workplace: The Role of Paid Parental Leave

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recent article by senior Sydney Morning Herald writer and new mum, Jessica Irvine, sparked our interest.

In her piece, Jessica proposed that we cannot have true gender equality until we have true shared responsibility for raising children. She challenged the labels of ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ carer enshrined in the current Paid Parental Leave (PPL) legislation as one of the roots of the problem.  Perhaps more concerning is, that as a society, we don’t realise the unintended negative consequences to gender equality when we use the terms ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ care giver.

“In fact, our entire paid parental scheme is predicated on the idea that there should exist a ‘primary’ and therefore a ‘secondary’ care giver. Mums and dads are forced to decide in the first few weeks which will be which. The idea that duties should be shared equally from the start doesn’t even compute in the current system.”

Jessica Irvine, SMH

Over the years we’ve seen countless times the effect of being assigned ‘primary’ carer has on women, unfortunately, often to their career peril. Many feel they must accept this assumed ‘lead position’ or ‘centre controller’ because it will ensure their family stays just that – a family.

Granted, some women want to stay at home for as long or longer than their PPL permits but what of the women who want to return to work and really share the caring role with their spouse?  Many feel the pressure to stay at home – pressure that comes, in part, from a system designed to commit them to the role as the ‘primary’ carer – which can be permanently, for those who find breaking back in impossible down the track.

Current legislation allows the ‘primary carer’ to transfer their PPL entitlement to their partner if they meet the eligibility criteria. This still implies either one spouse/partner must be the primary carer. What’s more the ‘Dad and Partner Pay’ of 2 weeks paid leave to care for a child overtly implies that mum will be the ‘primary carer’ to take PPL – Dad, well, he’ll just take a couple of weeks off and be back at work! What stereotypes does this reinforce about men and women’s role raising children and the proportion of time men vs. women ‘should’ have off whilst raising a family. And what if you are in a gay relationship – two fathers or two mothers? It forces the couple to choose – one is more of a ‘real’ parent than the other.

To be eligible for Parental Leave Pay, you need to be the primary carer of a newborn or recently adopted child. The primary carer is the person who most meets the child’s physical needs. This is usually the birth mother of a newborn or the initial primary carer of an adopted child. You are considered to be the primary carer from birth, even if your child is in hospital.

Eligibility for Paid Parental Leave Pay, Centrelink

Ask any parent – raising a child is a blessing and a challenge. But consider that imposing one parent with the weighty label of ‘primary’ carer carries with it an assumed unequalness that can be (and more often than not is) interpreted as one parent having more responsibility (i.e. more tasks, more decision making authority, more sacrifice) and implies that the other ‘secondary’ carer is somehow less important or has a lesser role to play. Every able parent is equally responsible for the upbringing and well being of their child. Period.

What if PPL redefined all parents as ‘carers’ of their child rather than as ‘primary’ or ‘secondary’ carer and what if they were equally encouraged to access paid parental leave within the first 12 months? How would that change the state of play in the culture of workplaces? How would it change the minds of men and women in a society that still pays women less for the same work and struggles to find female leaders?

Would parents feel more empowered to step up and be the mum or dad they want to be? Would women feel more empowered to make life and career choices that were important to them instead of feeling forced to make sacrifices (for stopping paid work) or carrying the guilt (for choosing to work)? We know from various studies that gender equality at work leads to a multitude of societal, economic and personal benefits. A report released last month by the McKinsey Global Institute highlights this fact blatantly: “If every country saw women reach parity with men on workforce participation, global GDP would increase $28 trillion”.  And this: “More than half (54%) of the potential increase in GDP can come from increasing women’s workforce participation.”

There is a very plain bias here and one we’d like to see change before the next round of PPL legislation is enacted, for the sake of all Australians – this generation and those to come.  The inequalities at work (we still have a 18% gender pay gap in Australia) and home (women do 2.5 times more unpaid work than men) highlight why we need to address inequality at all levels of society. We need to discourage gender-based assumptions in every nook and cranny we can – from the laws we make to the colour of socks we feel we ‘ought’ to buy our new born. As my 4 year old said this morning: “some kids think blue is for boys and pink is for girls but I like blue and all colours are for everyone”.

In summary, and put simply, we propose the Government remove all gender references from the new Paid Parental Leave legislation. ‘Either parent/carer’ will suffice. Change starts with the individual, but when we have laws that reflect true equality (both parents, without bias, playing an equally active and important role as both carer and worker), we start to inspire and encourage every parent, working or not, to play a role in raising the next generation – equally. After all, it takes village to raise a child doesn’t it?

By: Emma Walsh

First published by Women’s Agenda

 

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Part-time work, part-time care: The radical yet strangely sensible proposal for our future

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A LOT of people think Jennifer Nedelsky’s plan for the future of work is crazy, but when most hear her radical manifesto, their reaction is: “Where do I sign?”.

The Canadian professor, a fellow for the Institute for Social Justice, has this theory that everyone, and she means everyone, should work part time.

Have we got your Mondayitis affected attention yet?

If Professor Nedelsky’s ideas were to be implemented, when the full-timers among you arrived at work today it would have been the beginning of a minimum 12, maximum 30-hour week. And if you’re one of the increasing number of graduates looking to gain employment or struggling to find that next opportunity, it wouldn’t be a problem.

The catch in this utopian labour model is that everyone would also be required to participate in part-time, unpaid care work for the same number of hours, 12 — 30.

Of the 11.8 million strong labour force in Australia, around 3.6 million of us work part time according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data. Continue reading

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What can bosses do to help working parents? Advice from 21 company heads

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How easy is it for women to have a fulfilling career and raise a family in today’s business world? What can bosses do to help working women?

Here’s what 21 family friendly employers in the US recommend…

It is much easier than in the past but still not as easy as it should be. Bosses should provide flexibility in the working hours and understand that women are often the most driven people in an organisation. The importance should be the results that they achieve and not the hours that they commit.

Daniel Ades, managing partner, Kawa Capital Management

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How often do we ask men that question? There are career and family challenges for both men and women — they just differ in nature. Bosses can help all working caregivers by measuring results, not time in the office — give employees the freedom to work where and when they need to.

Christine Barney, CEO, RBB Communications

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