Women in office

Member Article

Caring roles block career advancement for three in five women

Nearly six out of ten women carers say caring responsibilities have stopped them applying for promotion or a new job, and one in five women overall have left a job because it was too hard to balance work and care, according to wide-ranging research by Ipsos UK and Business in the Community (BITC).

Whilst 35% of all adults, and 44% per cent of working adults, have caring responsibilities, the research found that they are not spread equally. Women account for 85% of sole carers for children and 65% of sole carers for older adults. More people from ethnic minority backgrounds (42%) have caring responsibilities than from white backgrounds.

Ipsos and BITC interviewed a representative sample of 5,444 people across the UK to better understand contemporary attitudes and experiences around combining paid work and care. Although 94% agreed that caring responsibilities should be spread equally, 52% of women who are joint carers say they do more than their fair share—with only 30% of men admitting they do less.

Only 27% of people believe men and women are treated equally in the workplace and one in five men (20%) said caring had stopped them from applying for promotion or a new job, compared to the much higher percentage for women.

The impact of caring responsibilities on workplace progression is greatest on women, who are twice as likely than men to work part-time, and on lower-paid workers and shift workers, who find it more difficult to take time off during the day at short notice.

Carers from Black, Asian, Mixed Race or other ethnically diverse groups are disproportionately affected, with one in two (50%) saying they had been unable to pursue certain jobs or promotions due to their caring responsibilities. Overall, one in three people from Black, Asian, Mixed Race if other ethnically diverse groups (32%) have left or considered leaving a job due to a lack of flexibility, compared with around one in five (21%) white people.

Charlotte Woodworth, Gender Equality Campaign Director at BITC, said:

“Employers and policy makers need to understand that caring, for children and others, is a routine part of many people’s lives, and adjust working cultures to better support this. Otherwise, we will continue to see working carers, particularly women and people from Black, Asian, mixed race and other ethnically diverse backgrounds, pushed down and in some cases out of the workforce.

“Flexibility is key, thinking not just about where work is done, but also when. We need to move past old fashioned ideas about 5 days a week, 9 – 5, in one location and support everyone to craft a better work life balance, that doesn’t see some people penalised because they can’t work in a certain way.” she added

“But helping women do it all will only get us so far - we must also ensure men are given the opportunity to care. We need to overhaul out-of-date policies that presume only women want to take time out to look after the kids. The government should support employers to offer stand-alone, subsidised paternity leave, in keeping with most people’s beliefs that people of all genders should be supported to care”.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Nathan Stennett .

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