Many Employers Have Unintentional Biases Toward Working Parents. Here’s Why They Make Great Employees
According to CNBC, there were an estimated 35 million working mothers at the end of 2019. In 2020, 78.2% of families had at least one parent working. These statistics help to prove the point that parents are hard workers.
Some studies have even shown that parents are better workers. Yet, despite these statistics that point towards a growing workforce that is increasingly family-based, many employers still don’t seem to understand or believe parents can be good workers.
Some employers are even holding fast to stereotypes and stigmas. Some believe that parents are less productive at work because they’re distracted. Or, assume parents need more time off or have to leave unexpectedly for family emergencies.
Why do these biases still exist? Furthermore, how can employers move past them and create working environments for parents that help them to succeed instead of hindering their progress?
Why Parents are Productive
Letting go of the stigma that working parents are a hindrance is crucial for your business’s success. You could be missing out on some of the best possible employees for your company by not hiring people with children at home.
Multiple studies have showcased the value of working parents. Some of these studies show that parents are typically:
- More productive
- Great multi-taskers
- Have better time management skills
- More likely to be in touch with the world and willing to research things
By supporting working parents, you’ll create a happier, less stressful work environment.
Your current employees won’t have to worry about what might happen to them if they decide to start a family. You’ll also retain better talent when your business builds a reputation for supporting all of your employees, no matter what their situations may be.
When you choose to let go of the stigma surrounding working parents, your business will benefit.
Letting Go of the Stigma
In most cases, the bias against parents is unintentional. You may not even realize that you’re letting your antiquated feelings steer your thought process. That’s why it’s so important to bring this stigma to light.
One study published in the Journal of Social Issues found that when people were told an employee was also a mother, they viewed her as less competent. Those in hiring positions had less interest in bringing her on or promoting her.
Another study from the American Sociological Review found that women can lose 7% of their earnings when they become mothers.
Some insist the discrepancies exist due to a decline in employee work ethic. They usually point towards a parent’s need to adjust their schedules when they become parents. They might need to cut back on their hours or ask for more flexibility when it comes to their job.
Although parents may do these things, it doesn’t invalidate their work ethic. Having children doesn’t lower anyone’s ability to do things the right way. It certainly doesn’t impact anyone’s competence.
Ultimately, it’s up to employers to fight back against these strange stigmas that suggest parenthood causes employees to somehow lose their skills. You can do that by supporting working parents, rather than buying into stereotypes.
How You Can Support Working Parents
One way to fight against these stereotypes is to offer appealing incentives to parents that can keep them on as loyal employees for years to come.
Oftentimes, the biggest incentive is offering support. Parents want equality along with every other employee, and that starts with supporting them and their needs. Talk to them. Have an open discussion about what they feel is important. It might include things like:
- Paid parental leave
- A family-friendly company culture
- A safe space for working parents
Those needs might look different for every parent, so creating a “parent policy” that includes flexibility. Oftentimes, this is a great place to start. Consider letting parents work remotely at least a few days a week. If they have the right equipment and home office essentials, they can be just as productive at home without having to leave their children.
It’s also important to understand the value of a working parent’s time. Everyone has a busy schedule, but parents have to deal with multiple schedules. Additionally, they can’t limit their children from doing things just because their working hours are rigid.
Make sure to hold meetings that have value, and don’t fall into the trap of putting a meeting together that could have been an email. Having brainstorming sessions, even via Zoom, is a great way to get everyone on the same page, be productive, and move forward with a new idea or project.
It allows everyone the opportunity to learn about their specific “jobs”, so they can then accomplish them independently.
Supporting parents at work is important for your business. Not only will it create more loyal employees, but you’ll build a positive and productive culture that will help to eliminate stigmas for years to come.
Beau Peters is a professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he has learned a slew of tricks in the business world and enjoys sharing them with others who carry the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.
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