The pandemic has brought varying challenges to the recruitment landscape, especially for women. In an already challenging landscape, with the gender pay gap still in existence and boardrooms dominated by men, the impact of COVID has affected women disproportionately.
Female dominated sectors are rare; on top of this, they have been incredibly heavily impacted by the economic fallout. A report by PWC found that “…more women than men are employed in the sectors hardest hit by COVID-19; women’s job losses outpaced men’s in 2022”. It’s forecasted that there are more challenges to come for women in the workplace, not least because pre-existing gender inequalities have been escalated further by COVID-19.
One of the biggest issues is around maternity leave, paternity leave, and shared parental leave. How can your company ensure that there’s no stigma behind shared parental leave, and make sure the new entitlement is being used effectively?
The times they are a-changing
Whilst they feel like an established part of the working world, paternity leave and shared parental leave are relatively new concepts. Paternity leave is the older of the two, being introduced in 2002. Shared paternity leave was then established in law in 2015, just seven years ago.
Paternity leave was introduced with the idea of sharing the burden of looking after a new-born baby; by giving men time off it allowed them to be more involved in their children. It also, in theory, would allow women more of a choice with regards to staying at home or going to work.
Whilst things are changing, they’re changing slowly. A study by AIG Life found that women are more likely to feel obligated to take time off work to look after babies and children. Results showed that of the 3,000 working individuals surveyed, 74% of women were the primary carer for children or relatives, compared to just 26% of men.
Sharing is caring
There’s research to show that men actually do want to be treated the same as women when it comes to taking parental leave but worry that their career will be impacted. CIPD conducted extensive research with working fathers to assess their experiences and views of shared parental leave. Findings show that, “73% of men surveyed believe there’s a stigma attached to taking extended paternity leave” and “95% of men agreed that workplace culture needs to be transformed to normalise men taking extended paternity leave.”
So what can companies do to break the stigma and encourage the uptake of shared parental leave?