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New research from BT and the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion (enei), showed that despite fathers having a greater role in raising their children, many employers fall short of offering them the support they need.

The findings reveal that while one in two fathers (49%) say they do the majority or an equal share of the childcare, two thirds (67%) don’t think their employers have sufficient family friendly policies.

While more than half of dads (52%) say they do manage to prioritise their family life more than a third (35%) now work more than ever, which means they often aren’t able to be as involved in family life as they would like to be. The study also revealed that nearly nine out of ten fathers (87%) want their employer to do more to help them with their parenting responsibilities:

  • 49% want to be able to work flexibly,
  • 21% want to be able to take paternity leave,
  • 25% want their employer to be more understanding of the demands of fatherhood, and
  • 38% would like support with child care

Denise Keating, CEO of enei, said: “With traditional family roles having changed significantly in recent decades, a healthy workplace culture treats men and women equally. True gender equality will only happen when it is not only socially and culturally acceptable, but actually expected that fathers will play an equal part in the care and upbringing of their children.  If employers do not move with the times and proactively enable this, there is a risk of disengagement, loss of performance, or even worse, a perception of discrimination against the male workforce.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a report revealing that the appointment of women to FTSE 350-listed non-executive director roles is being held back by selection processes which ultimately favour candidates with similar characteristics to existing male-dominated board members.

The report reveals a recognition by many chairmen and executive search firms (ESFs) that gender diversity should be increased at board level. Search firms have introduced a voluntary code of conduct and had some success at getting more women on long lists. But when it comes to shortlisting and appointing, the candidates who are selected tend to be those who are perceived as “fitting in" with the values, norms and behaviours of existing board members, who are largely men.

Interviews with senior consultants at ten leading ESFs in London, all signatories to the voluntary search code, reveal that search firms are beginning to challenge chairmen and nomination committees when defining briefs. In particular, this includes giving more importance to underlying competencies than “fit” with existing board members.

The research shows how selection of candidates based on “fit” and previous board experience rather than competencies is self-perpetuating as it works against women who have had fewer opportunities to gain previous board level experience. It also limits the ability of chairmen to broaden the range of skills and experience of their boards.

As well as identifying examples of good practice at ESFs, the report concludes that a more transparent, professional and rigorous approach to the selection process would allow chairmen and search agencies to appoint more female candidate and encourage more women to consider applying for roles as non-execs.

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