A friend of mine recently shared that his female boss had – in a team meeting – commended the men on her team for leaning in on the home and family fronts. It was in response to an article quoting Elizabeth Broderick, Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner who had received a text message from her son asking ‘Mum what’s for dinner?,’ and she replied saying ‘Hello, I’m in Brussels, ask Dad, he’s standing beside you’.
My friend, a very active parent of two school aged kids, said it was the first time he could recall in his entire working career having an open conversation – instigated by his boss – about work life balance. This got me thinking how long we have to go in our progress towards true workplace equality.
As the winds of change gently breeze across Australia’s male dominated professional landscape, the number of initiatives aimed at supporting greater female participation in the workforce has increased. However, you have to wonder: are our personal lives keeping pace with the change?
According to the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey, women still average 16 hours housework a week, more than double the amount of men. The World Economic Forum backs this finding reporting Australian women spend 311 minutes on unpaid work each day – such as housework, caring responsibilities and volunteering – while men spend 171.6 hours on the same type of work.
In a tight job market, with workplaces demanding more and more hours, is it feasible to expect men to lean in more on the homefront?
Meanwhile, a recent study conducted by Save the Children Australia shows that while some Australian fathers are actively involved in raising their children, too many describe themselves as “helpers” leaving the day-to-day care of their children to others. Some of the men surveyed in this study claim flexible work arrangements often made available to women were not available to them.
Even if they want to do more hands on parenting, are men getting the support they need to do so?
My friend Lisa Lintern, a corporate communications consultant, has encouraged me to dig a little deeper on this topic. Together we’re embarking on a study into the progress of women into senior roles in corporate Australia, and how the social fabric of our families is adjusting to this change.
We’re curious to understand how the amount of support they get on the home front stacks up as compared with a man in a similar position?
At the same time, are men in senior positions offered the same level of flexibility to allow them to take on their equal share of parental and home duties?
We’ve launched a new survey and would love you – and your partner, friends and colleagues – to share your views about today’s work life mix. We’re looking for a broad mix of experiences – so whether or you’re working or not, and whether you have children or not, we want to hear from you.
The aim of this survey is to gain insights into how men and women juggle their work life with their family life. Do they share similar experiences or is there a level of inequality in terms of the support that they get? Do they have someone at home supporting their work endeavours? Indeed, does the family composition vary for men and women as they progress their careers?
Can you please help us by sharing your experiences? It will take only five minutes and you can access the link here.
Thanks in advance for your help and if you have any ideas or feedback, we’d love to hear from you.