This Father’s Day, Diversity Council Australia is calling on Australian businesses to make flexible work standard business practice for working dads.
New research has revealed that Australian families are lagging behind families in comparable nations when it comes to sharing care of children, and that has an impact on the choices that men and women can make in the workplace.
The Fairness in Families Index (FiFI) is a measure created by the Fatherhood Institute UK to assess how well-developed countries were fairing in relation to egalitarian parenting and earning.
Overall, Australia ranked 13th out of 21 countries, behind the UK and New Zealand in the measures for gender equality in paid and unpaid work.
DCA CEO, Lisa Annese said that while the results showed an improvement in Australia’s ranking, Australia could be doing more to support working families.
“When both parents are able to spend time with their children, workplaces and families benefit.
“DCA’s 2012 Men Get Flexible research found men who have greater access to flexible work are more effective in their jobs, report higher work performance, are less troubled by work overload and take fewer risks that can compromise productivity. Moreover, they are absent for fewer days and have lower levels of personal stress and burnout and work-life interference or conflict.
“However, flexible work still hasn’t been mainstreamed in Australia. Our research found a significant number of men desire greater access to flexible work than they currently have and this is especially the case for young fathers. Financial pressures and negative attitudes toward men as carers are a big part of the problem, according to recent Monash University research.
“Flexibility at work opens up options for fathers, at work and at home. Flexible work gives fathers the freedom to share parenting and household management at home, and have new and innovative ways of working to build meaningful and satisfying careers,” said Lisa.
Organisations can do a lot more to engage men in flexible working. DCA has developed a framework for action:
- Flexibility reframed: Emphasise the business case for men to engage in flexible work and broaden the definition of flexibility to include full-time work self-managed flexibly, and formal, informal and dynamic flexible work.
- Diversity amongst men: Structure work in multiple ways to respond to the diversity amongst men in terms of age, cultural background, life-stage, nature of work, sexual orientation, work-life priorities and so on.
- Culture: Foster an organisational culture that is supportive of flexible work for men, pro-actively encouraging men to engage in flexible work and providing opportunities for men to share their experiences of flexible work.
- Leadership: Develop and publicise senior male role models of flexible work to break the perception that senior roles = no flexibility.
- New model of success: Address men’s reluctance to use flexible work for fear of career penalties by designing new roles with flexibility as standard, integrating flexibility into senior roles and illustrating ‘success stories’.
- Team-focus: Recognise that success in integrating flexible work hinges on the relationship between individuals and their teams, and build flexibility into standard team-based operating procedures.
- Fatherhood: Utilise fatherhood as an effective entry to integrate flexibility and reduce gender differences in accessing flexible work, and focus on a long-term approach beyond parental leave.