A female friend of mine (a working mum) commented that she couldn’t tell her employer about feeling overwhelmed due to her caring responsibilities, during lockdown, as it would be seen as a weakness. However, men in her company taking on such additional responsibility, also impacting on work, were considered inspirational role-models to be congratulated and encouraged.
Women have been told that we can ‘have it all’ – the ability to be top of our work game, the capacity to be an inspiring working mum, and a home to be proud of. Yet, that often means pushing ourselves beyond our limits, inducing a sense of failure that knocks our self-worth and self-confidence.
Almost 90% of both men and women are biased against women, according to the United Nations Development Programme Report 2020. There is a huge disparity between what people believe is the case and the stark reality.
As Pedro Conceição, head of UNDP’s Human Development Report Office, states,
“Today, the fight about gender equality is a story of bias and prejudices.”
So, I’m interested to understand the reality, from the perspective of working mums and dads, and also managers regardless of whether they’re a parent.
- Does gender impact on our ability to be authentic and expose our vulnerability, or is it really about individual company culture?
- Does honesty communicate weakness or courage when it’s about traditional female roles and responsibilities?
- How equal is the experience for men and women in terms of what is expected of them and their mental capacity?
- And does this make women stronger or break them?
I have launched a survey to uncover the reality in 2021 and I would love to hear from you.
Regardless of gender,
If you are a manager, click here.
If you are a working parent, click here.
For working parents who are also managers, please do complete both surveys. If I can only convince you to complete one, make it the survey where your insights will provide most value.
Here are four practical steps for parents to level the playing field and achieve a sense of equality and control.
We need to take responsibility to push back ourselves, for example by putting boundaries around our roles. That will be increasingly important as we continue to work from home, surrounded by tasks around the house.
- Regardless of how helpful and practical your partner is, they aren’t mind readers and are unlikely to have an accurate concept of how much you hold in mind. So, make a list of everything and share it. If the ‘small’ things are belittled, hand the list over and relinquish control for a few days. Then review!
- Consciously consider your values and be confident and proud about what you choose to prioritise, whether that’s your family, job or your health. Be assertive in communicating your choices. That’s your bottom line; stick to it.
- Let your manager know how you and your partner divide caring responsibilities and how this impacts on both of your work, to set realistic expectations for your role. In other words, set the equality expectations from inside out.
- Build self-care into your day. That is about mental and physical wellbeing and far from indulgent. It is a basic necessity to equip yourself to deal with the challenges that come with different roles. The neuroscience behind organising your day to increase mental capacity and boost performance is clear. And it’s better than having to mumble apologetically about not being able to cope.
We must find a balance that fulfils our values. That way we can engage with life in a way that feels right for us as individuals.
To find out the steps that companies need to be taking, look out for the results of the survey when I’ll be exploring the difference employers make.
Sc (Hons), PGCE, MSc, CPsychol, HG.Dip.P
A passion for people being able to be their best and thrive underpins It’s Time for Change. Lisa supports leaders to create a workplace culture where employees thrive, are engaged and can excel. She helps empower employees to be their best. Being a chartered psychologist and psychotherapist gives her a point of difference to understand what’s going on and enable change. Lisa firmly believes that when we get people right, we get business right.
She was awarded Psychologist of the Year, Oxfordshire, by GHP Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Awards in 2018 and featured in The Oxford Times in Business Sept 2019.
Lisa can be contacted at here.