Working fathers should be allowed to 'step up' at home

A former UK headteacher has called for fairer delegation of family duties between working parents and better support by employers for both fathers and mothers.

Working fathers should be allowed to 'step up' at home
Working mothers must stop taking on the role of “family chief executive” and allow their partner to share domestic duties, said Clarissa Farr, the former headmistress of St Paul's Girls' School in west London.In an interview with The Sunday Times, she explained how she believes that working women would find it easier to break through the glass ceiling if there was a more equal split in childcare and household chores. She said, “Women may be our own worst enemy, still being the CEOs at home. Usually, mums are running the family diary – they are in control of what needs to happen to keep the family afloat. Fathers are definitely a junior partner in their partnership.”Often, many mothers come back to work after maternity leave on reduced or part-time hours to fit in with childcare and school drop off and pick up. This can be viewed by employers that reduced hours means reduced commitment and can negatively impact promotion prospects. Research has found that it affects more mothers than fathers, as women are more likely to work reduced hours. According to the Modern Families Index 2019 Employer Report, only 25% of parents with young children share work and care equally between them.

Ms Farr, who retired from teaching in 2017, explained how she would often see working mothers taking their children to routine GP appointments, but rarely working fathers. She went on to criticise businesses for not having better policies for working parents and that it was “a damning reflection on Britain that so few fathers took shared parental leave.” According to a study by the TUC, only 1% of new parents used the Government's shared parental leave scheme in 2018; 9,200 took shared parental leave out of 900,000 who were eligible.

The benefits for family-friendly employers

British businesses would be expedient to encourage family-friendly working practices, due to the power of flexible working as a tool to attract and retain staff, particularly Gen Y talent. The Index report found that 58% of people said a flexible employer would positively encourage employees to stay; while 51% said they would recommend an employer because of their family-friendly policies.Ms Farr believes that male chief executives can take key skills from parenting young children, such as negotiating with a toddler, and use them in their working life. In her latest book The Making of Her: Why School Matters, which is to be published in August, Ms Farr considers important issues in the UK education system, such as the challenges facing students and their teachers today; the role of a school in a modern, virtual world; and how do we educate girls to become tomorrow’s leaders?For more news and insight, please visit our Partner & Family Support pages.Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.
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