Who cares? Major Equal Lives Survey seeks views from Northern Ireland men and women

Business in the Community has launched a groundbreaking new project across the UK, Equal Lives, in partnership with Santander UK. The Survey is calling for input from men and women across Northern Ireland as it seeks to explore the organisational barriers and to better define the enablers for men with caring responsibilities.

Increasingly both men and women want a better work-life balance, yet in the UK women carry out 60% more domestic labour than men and mothers provide 74% of childcare*. This disproportionate shouldering of domestic duties severely restricts women’s ability to fulfill their potential at work and to progress in their careers. Meanwhile, younger fathers increasingly want a better balance between their work and home lives but are still being penalised by the ideal of a worker with no outside responsibilities.

Equal Lives aims to identify issues around balancing work and care for men and how addressing this can advance women’s equality – both in work and at home. The project will highlight existing gaps between employers’ policies and parents’ and carers’ lived experiences, whilst showcasing best practice in this area.

A growing number of fathers want a better balance between work and family, but many feel invisible in the workplace and under pressure to appear unrestricted by family responsibilities. The Modern Families Index 2017 showed that 44% of fathers lied or altered the truth to their employers about family life conflicting with work.

Nicola Thompson, Head of Workplace for Business in the Community Northern Ireland explains: “Employers want talented people within their organisations. The current statistics present a worrying picture, and companies risk losing out on their best talent – male and female – if they do not adapt. We know there is a strong desire from millennials for better work-life balance, yet cultural norms about caring responsibilities and the ‘ideal’, unencumbered worker continue to persist.

“At Business in the Community, we encourage our members and all employers to offer agile working arrangements to both men and women equally; promote Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and support carers in the workplace.

“We encourage employed men and women with caring responsibilities to participate in the Equal Lives survey so we can learn from their experiences. The results of the survey will tell us whether employees feel supported by their employer and help us to develop best practice for businesses.”

The closing date for entries is Friday 11 May 2018. To take part, please visit www.bitcni.org.uk/programmes/equal-lives-survey-2018, or contact Nicola Thompson on (028) 9046 0606.

*Women Shoulder the Responsibility of ‘unpaid Work’ | Visual.ONS,” May 24, 2017