19% of women have left a job because of the inability to balance work and caring duties
According to wide-ranging research by Ipsos and Business in the Community (BITC), nearly six out of ten women (58%) say caring responsibilities have stopped them applying for promotion or a new job, and one in five (19%) have left a job because it was too hard to balance work and care.
Whilst 35% of all adults, and 44% per cent of working adults, have caring responsibilities, this research found that they are not spread equally across genders with women accounting for 85% of sole carers for children and 65% of sole carers for older adults. More people from ethnic minority backgrounds (42%) have caring responsibilities than from white backgrounds.
The research was conducted across a sample of 5,444 people in the UK in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of the contemporary attitudes and experiences around combining paid work and care. Although 94% agreed that caring responsibilities should be spread equally, 52% of women who were joint carers say they do more than their fair share with a mere 30% of men admitting they do less.
Only 27% of people believe men and women are treated equally in the workplace with one in five men (20%) saying that caring duties had stopped them from applying for a promotion or a new job, compared to the much higher percentage for women.
The impact of caring responsibilities on workplace progression is greatest on women, who, according to the study, are twice as likely than men to work part-time, and are lower-paid workers and shift workers.
People from black, asian, mixed race or other ethnically diverse groups are disproportionately affected, with the researching revealing that one in two (50%) who have caring responsibilities saying they had been unable to pursue certain jobs or promotions because of this. One in three (32%) have left or considered leaving a job due to a lack of flexibility, compared with around one in five (21%) white people.
Is there a care divide?
According to the research, women make up over half of the lone carers for all groups, including 85% of lone carers for children, 54% of lone carers for working age adults, and 65% of lone carers for older adults. People who care for older adults (68%) are less likely to feel supported than those with childcare responsibilities (78%) or caring for working age adults (77%).
Eight percent of carers identify themselves as ‘sandwich carers’, looking after both children and older adults at the same time with almost half (46%) of current workers having had childcare responsibilities come up ‘during the working day’. Over 50% of women, compared to 42% of men, say their day job has been interrupted because of this. More than one in three women (37%) said other caring responsibilities come up, compared to 31% of men.
Charlotte Woodworth, Gender Equality Campaign Director at BITC, commented: “Employers and policy makers need to understand that caring, for children and others, is a routine part of many people’s lives, and adjust working cultures to better support this. Otherwise, we will continue to see working carers, particularly women and people from black, asian, mixed race and other ethnically diverse backgrounds, pushed down and in some cases out of the workforce.
“Flexibility is key, thinking not just about where work is done, but also when. We need to move past old fashioned ideas about five days a week, 9 – 5, in one location and support everyone to craft a better work life balance, that doesn’t see some people penalised because they can’t work in a certain way.
“But helping women do it all will only get us so far – we must also ensure men are given the opportunity to care. We need to overhaul out-of-date policies that presume only women want to take time out to look after the kids. The government should support employers to offer stand-alone, subsidised paternity leave, in keeping with most people’s beliefs that people of all genders should be supported to care”.
Kelly Beaver, Chief Executive of Ipsos UK, also commented: “A record number of women are in paid work in the UK, and they make up nearly 50% of the workforce, but our research shows that many feel they are held back in their careers by caring responsibilities which are not shared evenly. The majority of those we surveyed believe that more of this responsibility should be shared equally, irrespective of gender, and that employers have a key role in making flexibility at work the rule not the exception.
This research is invaluable in helping employers and policy makers to respond to the increasing demand for a more flexible approach to working and I am proud that at Ipsos we are leading the way, for example all our UK employees are offered equal paid maternity and paternity leave, because we firmly believe that the responsibility of raising a child should not be determined by your gender.”