It’s coming almost a month late, but a very happy new year to all our readers! We are resuming weekly updates on equality and diversity from today. Last week’s highlights include – mothers say cost of childcare barrier to working more, managing the guilt of returning to work after maternity leave, fathers left out of the work-life balance debate and law firm adopts CV blind policy to avoid recruitment bias.
According to a survey by MumsNet and the independent thinktank the Resolution Foundation, around two-thirds of mothers say the cost of childcare is an obstacle to them working more. 20% of mothers who are already employed indicated that they would like to take on an extra 10 hours a week on average. The UK lags behind some other western economies on rates of maternal employment, with about 67% of mothers in some form of paid work compared with 86% in the best performer, Slovenia. Nations with the best maternal employment rates are more likely than UK employers to offer flexible work options, including the ability to set some of your own hours or to use accumulated hours to earn leave days.
But the cost of return to work is not the only concern for women on maternity leave. Louisa Symington-Mills, founder of Citymothers (London networking forum for women in senior-level ‘City’ professions managing careers and children), describes her conflicting emotions as she returned to work from her second maternity leave recently: “I thought I was an old hand at this having done it a grand total of once before, but those same feelings of worry, doubt and excitement seem accentuated this time…The only thing I know better second time around is that the guilt, the awful, heart-wrenching guilt of leaving a tiny, dependent baby at home, not to mention his talkative toddler sister, will become less prominent in time.”
While on the topic of flexible working practices, Lucy Powell, shadow childcare minister, writes on the exclusion of fathers from the work-life balance debate. She says that men are keen to be successful both as dads and at work but they face many hurdles on the way, including “problems with paternity leave, difficulties working flexible hours and prejudice from workmates and bosses when trying to become more involved as dads”. According to government’s latest statistics, only 17% of men have requested flexible working.
Finally, the law firm Clifford Chance has adopted CV blind policy to neutralise bias in recruitment towards Oxbridge graduates. Staff conducting the interviews are no longer given any information about which university or school candidates attended. In its first year of operation, the scheme has seen its annual intake of 100 graduate trainees come from 41 different education institutions – a rise of nearly 30% on the number represented in the previous year under the old recruitment system.
Have something to add? Email Equality.and.Diversity@lse.ac.uk.