A commitment to support parents should be a core feature of companies’ diversity and inclusion initiatives, according to the largest study of working parents ever conducted.

Produced as part of a multi-year partnership between organisational culture experts Great Place to Work and virtual clinic Maven, the study reached out to more than 1,200 US-headquartered firms to poll 850,000 staff, including 440,000 parents.

The findings revealed four, key takeaways:

  • Investing in working parents is better for business Companies that invest in staff and their families experience 5.5 times more revenue growth as a result of greater innovation, higher talent retention and increased productivity.
  • Supporting parents should be core to firms’ diversity, equity and Inclusion strategies – yet those priorities are often discussed separately Underrepresented racial groups are more likely to be working parents, and more likely to experience burnout: 33% of Black mothers are experiencing burnout, compared to 25% of white mothers and 21% of white fathers. In addition, mothers are 28% more susceptible to burnout.
  • Paid parental leave doesn’t just help growing families – it helps to close the wage gap and allows parents to bring their best selves back to work On average, working mothers lose almost a month of income when supplementing their allotted maternity leave, adding a financial burden to the physical and emotional challenges that new parents face.
  • Benefits shouldn’t start or stop with baby The best companies are thinking beyond maternity leave to support employees throughout the entire journey of planning and raising a family. Firms that Great Place to Work has classed as ‘Best Workplaces’ are investing in benefits that provide continuous care and holistic support for parents every step of the way.

In a statement, Maven founder and CEO Kate Ryder said: “With two million women dropping out of the workforce so far this year, we’ve rolled back decades of progress on gender diversity – a reality that has massive implications for businesses for years to come.” (Maven; Great Place to Work, via PR Newswire, 2 December 2020)

Ryder highlights further study findings showing that the most effective solutions to this issue are not staff perks. In fact, she stresses, “the pandemic has revealed how hollow much of that was. Instead, what stands out are real investments in stretched populations that help attract and retain diverse perspectives at all levels of a company, which is ultimately what drives innovation and growth.”

What should UK leaders learn from this study?

The Institute of Leadership & Management’s head of research, policy and standards Kate Cooper says: “This study marks a welcome shift from what has been a rather traditional focus on the early days of a child’s life. It moves us on from questions such as which parent takes time off work, how long for and whether that leave is paid or unpaid to a broader and more genuine consideration of what is family friendly.

“In many ways, this is an extension of the debate around what it means to bring your whole self to work: as the pandemic has vividly shown us, our family circumstances have a huge influence on our working day, in terms of how and when we work, and which sorts of responsibilities we must fit in along the way.”

Cooper explains: “As this research shows, companies that have acknowledged the need to support their employees holistically – not just the person who turns up for a day’s work – are seeing benefits in terms of loyalty, retention, innovation and growth. Those results are testament to the insight of enlightened organisations that are taking their employees seriously as holistic individuals. Parenting doesn’t stop when our children reach a certain milestone. It needs to be managed for many years, in parallel with our employment.”

She notes: “If, as Ryder is asserting, the US is going backwards on gender participation in the workforce, that sends a clear signal to leaders in the UK. We must absorb this evidence of what family-friendly organisations have accomplished and ask, ‘What can we do to be more like them? How can we be more understanding of the ongoing domestic demands that our workers are facing?’ It’s also vital to consider staff who don’t fit into the working-parents category. Not everyone has children – but people do have other responsibilities, such as caring for older parents or looking after non-family members: all sorts of demands that people must manage in addition to work.”

Cooper adds: “What’s important here is to recognise that in enabling staff to meet their responsibilities and supporting them to live fulfilling lives – which is the essence of work-life balance – we get better, more committed employees who are more dedicated to helping us as leaders reach our goals.”

For further insights on the themes raised in this blog, check out the Institute’s resources on appreciating diversity

Source ref:

Maven; Great Place to Work, via PR Newswire, 2 December 2020