Culture change needed as prejudice against parents dominates UK workplace

Parent prejudice continues to dominate workplaces up and down the country, according to research launched to mark this Thursday’s ‘Bring Your Children to Work Day’.

A survey by consultancy Accenture of more than 1,300 employees who returned to work after having a child, reveals that one in five feel it has had a negative impact on their career.

Women are still hit the hardest, having three times as many negative experiences as men, the research shows.

While many employers extol the virtues of flexible working, many parents do not feel comfortable coming in late, leaving early or attending school events. Even taking time off when their child is unwell is something that 59% of respondents feel uncomfortable doing.

Parents are united on calling for more support from both government (60%) and employers (58%) to ease the burden of balancing work and family life.

While government plans to extend maternity and paternity leave are welcomed, parents cited a number of factors that would be needed to make this work.

Nearly 60% say there needs to be a commitment from the employer, and more than 40% say there is a need for measures to help returners come back to work and that women ought to be paid the same as men.

Sam Clark, Accenture’s UK head of inclusion and diversity, said: “The resounding message here is that actions speak larger than words. Creating real and lasting change means a cultural shift in the workplace, but this is the most difficult challenge to overcome.

“However, if employers are really committed to supporting working parents, they must take practical steps to ease the burden of juggling work and family life.”

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