Should you be doing more to support parents?

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More than 80% of women fear having a family will slow or halt their career progression. What can you do to better support the parents in your organization?

A new study from UK organization Opportunity Now of more than 14,000 women finds that 81% feel having children will affect their careers, with 72% feeling conflicted about their ability to balance family with career.

“The early results of the survey highlight a conundrum that many women face: they want to work and develop their careers, but they often perceive the sacrifices and pressures as too great,” Kathryn Nawrockyi, director of Opportunity Now, said.

Other key statistics include:

  • 62% of women feel pressured to succeed at both work and home
  • 69% say society expects women to put family before their career
  • 66% believe work needs to be their number one priority if they are to advance their career
  • 63% feel that flexible working still means working long hours

There is also an imbalance in expectations on men and women as parents. Catalyst Canada executive director Alex Johnson noted that she and her husband have three children, but he is rarely asked how he balances work and family while it is a common question for her.

Fathers are much less likely to use parental leave – just one in five fathers in Canada participates in the program – and studies from Europe show that a number of factors influence who takes the most parental leave in heterosexual families including financial impact and social expectations. The good news is that the trend is on the way up. In 2001 just 10% of fathers used parental leave, increasing to 20% by 2006.

On Page Two: What HR can do


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  • S.E. on 2013-12-05 12:25:04 PM

    The bullet points on the pressures for women between career and family is accurate. Same context as the article on women falling off the corporate ladder. Although this article addresses father's and parental leave, what about the other side of single Mom and career. What is the expectation of the corporate world? I know I didn't do it, I gave up one for the other knowing I couldn't balance the two demands on me as a human being. Now at the end of my career, I know that I was right, the expectation on women in the corporate offices and needs of family make a very difficult life/choice/balance for women to fulfill.

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