Lockdown has placed considerable stress upon working families. In many cases, the lion’s share of caring responsibilities has fallen to women, even when both partners are still working full time. This has had a hugely detrimental effect upon women’s mental health at an already highly stressful time. In the long term, as we endure the long wait for life to return to ’normal’, the impact on women’s careers is significant and worrying, setting back years of progress.
A member of our talent network, who wishes to remain anonymous, has shared her thoughts on this subject with us. We think they will ring true for far too many women out there.
Yes! This is another blog about the juggle between home schooling & work, that will join the long line of others on the topic, but the reason I’m compelled to write my version, is that I’m astounded by how my husband views our individual parental responsibilities.
I would not call myself a feminist; I appreciate being offered a seat and having a door held open for me (which I see as good manners all round), although I do very much believe females and males are equals, no more so, than in the workplace.
I am the owner of a business in its infancy, with a small team. We’ve been knocked sideways by Covid 19 like everyone else and I’m doing all I can to weather the storm, with the odd day of feeling like I’m scampering around trying to hold it all together.
My husband works at a multinational highly respected long-standing business, in a large team. He’s mid-management – and like every other worker out there, he has accountability and deadlines.
The current climate is extraordinary and with schools closed, parents & carers are having to adjust how they work the world over, to ensure care and education is given, during the working day.
My husband has, historically, been relatively good at playing his part in ‘childcare’ routines, since our children joined our merry band – only requiring occasional encouragement to stand firm with his weekly working from home day (to manage drop off/pick up) – when he’s challenged about it at work.
When lockdown first became a household word, the daze that ensued, meant many muddled along, including us; although we soon got into a mini ‘routine’, sharing schooling either side of work. A couple of weeks further down the line, it has now become obvious to me, that both my husband and his boss (who may I add, has no children), are simply in denial that the work day still requires time for childcare. It’s almost as if the ‘trend’ has passed.
When planning the week ahead, it’s reported that team meetings stretch across either ‘side’ of the day and taking a morning or afternoon ‘slot’ with the kids just isn’t viable.
When I’ve suggested he has an open conversation at work, he’s reticent. The majority of his team are either not parents, or they have a partner who doesn’t work, or a partner that is currently furloughed, therefore they can take the lions’ share of home life. It turns out he is the only member of the team in our situation. The one other parent is a mother of two who has recently been furloughed.
I’m therefore left wondering, why my husband, who is wholeheartedly supportive of my business, doesn’t feel comfortable telling his line manager that he needs to change how he works to share schooling and indeed why she, in turn, hasn’t been more generous in her thinking.
I can’t help but feel there is some subconscious stereotyping coming into play?
As someone responsible for a team in this current climate, have you considered the following?
- How individuals in your team are coping on the home front?
- Are they in need of some additional flexibility – specifically if their day now involves sharing any sort of caring responsibilities?
- Are people finding this new world of ‘juggle’ a real battle and what could be done to alleviate this?