Six things that should not need to be said: a manifesto for employers

Laptop flexible working

I started Parent Work Thrive because I wanted to explore what helps people thrive as parents with careers.  There is a lot of non-advice out there along the lines of  ‘You have to work out what works for you as a family’ and ‘Just be confident and you will get what you want’.  Which just leaves everyone trying to work out from first principles what is right for their family – and employers dealing with everyone’s slightly different version of what they think might work.

My assumption is that there is a recipe (or recipes) for success, involving the right mindset, flexible setup and support – and that if we can work out some general principles, working parenthood can be massively improved.

However I initially also presumed that the solution is in our own hands as individuals.  As I’ve seen the #pressforprogress campaign come to life, and heard some of the pay gap data that is being revealed, I’ve realised that there is still an awful lot of work that needs doing by companies, to reach a basic, humane – even legal – level of behaviour.

Attitudes, assumptions and practices still exist in the corporate world that I’d presumed were long dead. And that 40 years into the feminist movement, frankly should be.  The 40- and 50-somethings at the top of business now would have grown up with ideas of equality – and many are working parents themselves.  Employers have little to lose by doing right by working parents – and a lot to gain in terms of employee motivation and retention.

Here is my manifesto.  Six things that any motivated working parent (indeed working person) of either gender, who is achieving for their organisation should have a right to expect.  They are not rocket science – in fact they should go without saying:

Career and pay

  • Equal pay – at the market rate – for equal work
  • To be assessed for promotion against fair and documented criteria – not one rule for women and another for men

Communication and support

  • No assumption that becoming a parent means a reduction in ambition or career aspirations.. or less willingness to work
  • An atmosphere of trust: that people are responsible, and will deliver quality work as agreed, if given the ability to set their own priorities and flex their hours as needed.

Leave and flexibility 

  • Not to be disadvantaged as a result of pregnancy and / or taking parental leave
  • That flexible working requests are refused only by exception and with good reason

Is there anything you would add?  Please comment if so.

We absolutely can – and should – get to the best solution we can as working parents (and come to some shared principles of what works) – but we need to demand that employers also do their bit.  This manifesto gives a place to start.

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