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How working parents can positively influence your business’s performance

How working parents can positively influence your business’s performance

It’s well documented that increasing female participation in the workforce would have a significant impact on the Australian economy. Over the last decade, leading organisations such as the OECD, Goldman Sachs, McKinsey and Company and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency have produced studies on the economic influence of gender equality. The outcome of each study has shown compelling evidence that improved gender equality in the workplace would strengthen Australia’s economy.

According to Goldman Sachs, for every year that the problem of gender inequality goes unresolved, Australia’s GDP forfeits a 20% increase. This figure represents an annual loss of around $300 billion to the economy. 

It makes sense for all businesses to address gender inequality. 

Research from the Peterson Institute of International Economics suggests that a typical corporate firm could see a 15% increase in profitability by going from having no women in corporate leadership to a 30% female share. The common view is that gender equality and diversity brings together varied perspectives, produces a more holistic analysis of the issues an organisation faces, and leads to improved decision-making, which in turn increases organisational performance. 

Yet, in spite of these clear economic and performance benefits for organisations, there’s a stark disconnect to the way women are treated in the workforce in relation to pregnancy and parental leave. The last National Review by the Australian Human Rights Commission into discrimination related to pregnancy and parental leave, found that one in two (49%) mothers reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace at some point. And it’s not just mothers. Over a quarter (27%) of the fathers and partners surveyed reported experiencing discrimination related to parental leave and return to work despite taking very short periods of leave. 

Not only does discrimination have a negative impact on employee engagement and their attachment to their workplace, the commercial loss to businesses when women don’t return to work is high. 

Employers should be concerned that they are losing an investment when talent, potential and intellectual property leave their business.

A key element in retaining parents in the workplace is flexible work practices. However, there is a certain stigma attached to flexible working; a perception of a lack of commitment to career progression, with flexible working options becoming ‘career dead ends’. For flexibility to work, for both parents and employers, there must be executive support, as well as a culture of acceptance within the organisation, particularly by middle management levels. 

In reality, any disconnection between organisational policy and how managers implement it, makes the policy redundant. 

It is clear there are significant challenges that need to be addressed so employers and employees are aware of their obligations, rights, and entitlements in relation to pregnancy, parental leave and returning to work. However, even with this knowledge, organisational culture needs to change to be more compatible with having a family. 

A critical step for gender equality is that employers need to support men to be active, hands-on-dads. Without this, women will always be held back in the workplace, and shouldered with most of the responsibility for looking after children. 

For companies to attract and retain their talented workforce and specifically to future-proof their millennial workforce, they need to adapt policy and culture to align with current thinking, which is parenting isn’t the sole responsibility of women. 

The Gender Pay Gap prevents many fathers from taking time off work for parenting, since family income is more likely to be compromised when they do, so not only is closing the Gender Pay Gap the right thing to do for women, it is also necessary if fathers are going to have equal opportunity to take parental leave. 

The attrition of talent surrounding parental leave doesn’t solely relate to the loss of women. Evidence is beginning to emerge of hidden ‘father-churn’: fathers or expectant fathers changing employment because they cannot reconcile family/ work obligations, and possibly not explaining this to their employer. Fathers with access to flexible working seem to be more satisfied with work/ family balance and to be less likely to consider changing employer (Burnett et al., 2011).

The Fatherhood Institute suggests that because men often hold positions of influence in the workplace, we need men to ‘walk the talk’ by creating workplaces that encourage men to be active fathers and protect women against the ‘motherhood penalty’. There are a range of ways men can do this:

  • Men in senior roles could look seriously at the business case for closing the gender pay gap and redesigning their organisations’ parenting leave systems. Key changes could include enhancing shared parental leave for either parent to the same extent as they enhance maternity leave; promoting flexible working approaches explicitly to men in the workforce; and enabling male employees to ‘come out’ as dads.
  • Senior managers who are dads could take substantial leave during their child’s first year, to help encourage others to do so. The more visible ‘boardroom dads’ become, the more dads in other parts of the organisation will feel free to open up about their aspirations for a better work-life balance.

We need all employers to recognise the part they play in driving a more equal and fair workplace so all parents can benefit from the opportunity to parent and work.

At Triiyo, they support company’s to achieve this. Triiyo is the leading parental leave platform designed to maximise the participation of women in the workforce and address parental leave equality by normalising parenting in the workplace. Their People Engagement Platform enhances connectivity and communication between teams and provides practical resources to support managers and employees through pregnancy, parental leave, and on return to work after parental leave. 

If you’re investing in parental leave policy and seeking to improve your parental leave program, talk to the team at Triiyo. For more information or to book a demo, contact hello@triiyo.com


10 Top Career Tips for Women from Management Consulting

10 Top Career Tips for Women from Management Consulting


1. Have a “can and will do” attitude

When presented with promotion opportunities, women tend to focus on the skills they don’t have for the role as opposed to what they can actually offer and then back themselves to learn the rest on the job. Their male peers on the other hand, readily put up their hands for bigger positions often beyond their current remit and capability. 

Be brave when presented with opportunities and in spite of self-doubt go for it anyway! If it doesn’t work out, so what? There is always a plan B… or C and you may actually learn something about yourself along the way.


2. Ask for, and embrace opportunities

Look for ways to get yourself seen and heard. What is keeping your boss up at night and how can you be the one to solve some of their biggest problems. Identify which projects are going to get you noticed and promoted and ask for them, especially if they stretch and develop you further. You need to show your potential and not just how well you perform in your current role.


3. Build your tribe of leaders

Build your tribe of leaders “deliberately”. Women are often too focused on excelling at the role at hand and do not take time to look up and identify: (1) mentors, “who know your heart” and can guide you in making important decisions in your life, not just your career; (2) sponsors “who will put their reputation on the line for you” and present you for specific opportunities; (3) coaches who will “help you close specific gaps” in your people and technical skills; and (4) role models, who you choose to emulate, but whom you may not know personally.


4. Courage & Character 

Woman leaders need to have excellent communication skills. Written and oral communication skills are crucial for success. In the past, for a woman to make it to a top position, they would often have to behave in a more aggressive, command and control and masculine style similar to their male counterparts. However, we are now finally beginning to see women in top positions embracing their authentic and often feminine styles in their behaviours which exudes gravitas too. Often a coach can help you discover where your blind spots in this area may be.

5. Be mindful and work/life balance

Burn out is prevalent among women striving to emulate their “superwomen’ role models. We  need to find more balance in our lives, be kind to ourselves, listen to our bodies and the warning signs.

Aside form the burn out issue itself, it’s not uncommon for stressed, under-pressure female leaders to engage in behaviours that can be perceived as aggressive. This can have a knock-on negative effect on the team, which in turn can lead to untimely attrition and can also  lead to difficulties in attracting new talent. If you begin to feel like this, there are a number of avenues you might want to explore, ie hire a life coach, book a yoga class or explore a meditation retreat, the idea is to find your outlet.

6. Learn to say no

With the above in mind, you may feel you have no time for yourself. Log your time for a week, both personal and professional. Notice where the big time and energy sappers are and figure out how you can reduce them and increase the things that enhance your well-being. Find a way to delegate or merely learn to let go of “stuff. The world will continue to turn, I promise!

7. Don’t take it personally

Women are often perceived as being more “sensitive” in the work environment. It is important not to change your character or behave like an iron maiden and don’t let comments or criticisms throw you off your game. If you do face patronising remarks, remind yourself how valuable you are, that you’re doing your best and let it roll off your back. Don’t allow those comments to have power over you and never give up. Use it to empower and embolden you!


8. Never stop trying

Talent is innate, but skill is developed with practice and perseverance. You must practice relentlessly to perfect the skill in whatever it is that captures your interest. Seize every opportunity to speak at events or even publish an article. No one is perfect the first time around so be kind to yourself and enlist the help of someone you trust or revere to practice with and get their guidance.


9. Pull other women up with you.

It is crazy that some women in top positions, consciously or unconsciously, make it more difficult for other aspiring and talented women. They believe they have fought to get where they are and are not embracing the opportunity to share their journey thereby encouraging other women to follow in their footsteps. Don’t be one of these! Be an active mentor, coach or sponsor. You will not only be giving back you will broaden your own skill set and be seen as an authentic female leader that top organisations are looking for. Moreover, they also know you’ll be bringing an entourage of talented female followers with you!


10. Take the advantages that come with being a woman and a minority.

When I speak to women about this it is always slightly controversial. It’s perfectly normal to want to be seen for what you can do and bring, not just because you are female.

There is, however, an agenda to promote diversity, which includes providing opportunities to women from consulting backgrounds to further progress their careers. The higher up you go within an organisation the less women you will encounter, however in both Management Consulting firms and in-house corporate Strategy and Transformation teams, senior leaders are open and actively looking to progress their diversity agenda and in particular talented women. Use it! 

They are often bonused on having diverse leadership teams and are actively seeking out opportunities to sponsor or mentor junior female talent. Ask for their advice and you will often get their attention and be noticed.