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Business And Careers Parenting

Is the Media Driving a Divisive Culture? Where does Equality fit in all this?

Once upon a time, many years ago, I used to be a journalist. We’re going back to when I was in my mid-twenties. While the basics of a job in the media have remained broadly similar, the news industry has changed massively since then and not all of it for the better. In fact, I feel very sorry for journalists, especially those working for major news networks because they seem to get blamed for everything bad going on in the world and it’s simply not justified.

The Responsibility of the Media

One of the big issues that comes up from time to time is the responsibility the press has to promote equality. I’m prepared to say something controversial here: The media has no responsibility to promote equality.

The media has a role to play in questioning inequality and reporting on equality issues. To give an example, there is a duty on news outlets to report on the number of white men who attended exclusive, independent schools who are in Boris Johnson’s cabinet.

If media personalities cross that line and actively promote equality they’ve gone beyond reporting on the news. That would be campaigning, not reporting. It’s the journalist’s role to inform the news consumer, not influence them.

So what drives the media and what they can publish? Let’s just be frank and concede it’s primarily cash. News organisations are businesses and a newspaper article about a premiership footballer’s threesome will shift more copies than an article about gender equality. That’s a sad fact and a reflection of one of the more negative aspects of human nature.

The Impact of Social Media

It’s impossible to write about this subject without mentioning social media. Social media has had a negative impact on news reporting. Journalists are forever being shouted down on social media by people who don’t like the way they report on the news.

If you really want to go down the rabbit hole, go take a look at the things said online about BBC reporter Marianna Spring, who specialises in reporting about online conspiracies. Some of the comments made about her are truly vile and just how negative the social media bubble can be.

Representations of Mums and Dads in the Media

Let me take one particular equality issue that means a lot to me: The way mums and dads are represented in the media. This sometimes causes me concern. I think we’ve come a long way since I launched my blog a decade ago, but there’s still some way to go.

Going back a decade, it really wasn’t rare for parenting magazines to feature one token image of a dad. He would be white and clearly in a heterosexual relationship. By contrast, if a major news outlet reports on a parenting issue in 2021 and doesn’t include a male voice, it will be publicly called out for doing so (one of the benefits of social media is being able to connect with major news organisations and highlight when they have fallen short).

In fact, I once remember having a chat with someone about work life balance. He remarked that if the flagship BBC Breakfast show ever reported on work/life balance, it would only ever invite mums to discuss the issue while sat on the bright red sofa of its studios at Media City in Salford.

Rather amusingly, a short while later I found myself appearing on that bright red sofa myself. The issue I was discussing with Naga Munchetty? Work/life balance!

Of course, it’s not simply mum v dad representation. I see a lot more representation of same sex parents in the media than I used to. It says a great deal that Olympic swimmer Tom Daley was chosen to be an ambassador for Pampers back in 2018. Not only was he a dad, but a dad in a same sex relationship!

My real frustration is that dads are all too often represented in the media looking after babies or toddlers. There’s very little representation of dads dealing with schooling, their children’s physical and mental health and so on.

Look on any library bookshelf at the parenting titles and you’ll see what I mean. The books for dads are overwhelmingly a) Writing in a tongue in cheek style and b) they don’t exist for any dad whose children are over the age of 5. Seriously, it’s like dads disappear once their kids hit primary school age.

As for mums, well mums can’t win. They’re either letting their families down by being working mothers. Or they’re letting the sisterhood down by not having a job. As I say, we’ve come a long way, but there’s more to do.

Driving a Divisive Culture?

Moving on from equality, is the media divisive? As I said at the start, the media should report on the news and represent society. It should not cross a line and start telling consumers what to think.

There is no question, the media has become more divisive. We saw this throughout the Brexit campaign and this has continued during the COVID pandemic. We all know that certain newspapers and broadcast journalists are pro-facemask while others are not.

Are these titles encouraging division or simply reflecting what’s going on in society? In reality, I think various media outlets fan the flames of the “Culture Wars” as they can be called.

What does this mean for reporting on equality issues? It’s hard to say. At this point in time the media seems as happy ever to report on equality issues. Aside from anything else, the pandemic has forced every family with working parents to think about its approach to equality. And that’s hard for the media to ignore.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens post-pandemic. If the media looses interest in equality, then we’ll all need to worry.

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Business And Careers Flexible Working Parenting Shared Parental Leave

Nestlé: Taking Action To The Needs Of Working Parents

When thinking about companies that go out of their way to promote family-friendly working practices, you probably think of Diageo, Aviva, Zurich or maybe Volvo. All have been supremely successful in promoting their parental leave policies and, in most cases, equalising them. In a further sign that big business is getting the message about work / life balance, Nestlé has also updated its parental support policy. I’ve been given the opportunity to learn all about it.

The food and beverage giant has taken significant steps to improve equalise it’s approach to parental leave, parental pay and, crucially, welcoming people back to work after a spell of leave. It’s not uncommon for companies to make big claims about their parental leave, only for dads to end up as second class citizens. Here are the main actions Nestlé takes to ensure mums and dads are treated fairly.

Stripped gender out of the language

The company has taken a gender-neutral approach to its policy. There is no longer maternity or paternity leave but primary and secondary carer leave.

The primary caregiver is the parent who will spend most of their time with the child. The primary caregiver is entitled to 52 weeks leave, 18 of which are paid by Nestlé. The secondary caregiver is entitled to 12 weeks leave, four of them paid.

In a bid to break down gender barriers, Nestlé encourage men to think long and hard about whether they wish to be the primary or secondary caregiver. This is to ensure they don’t simply default to being the ‘secondary’ caregiver. For this may not be in the family’s best interests.

The leave also applies to adoptive parents. It’s important to stress that using such language, Nestlé is recognising the existence of same sex couples. For same sex couples, the leave applies in exactly the same way as it is to heterosexual couples.

Keeping in touch days

Nestlé has put a lot of importance on helping mums and dads transition back into the workplace. Primary caregivers have 10 Keeping In Touch days. This ensures they are not excluded from developments and are kept in the loop.

Introduction of the Parent Talk network

The Parent Talk network, for me, is the highlight of what Nestlé is doing. It’s a superb development for dads who often struggle to find parental support and assistance. This is a network of staff, that enables mothers and fathers to discuss all things parent related.

Nestlé also offer new dads (and mums!) the opportunity to have a Parent Pal through their mentoring programme. A Parent Pal is a mentor who supports and mentors a new parent as they make the transition to becoming a working parent. It complements the Keeping in Touch days as it’s a further way to keep up to date with what is going on at work.

Male participation in the Parent Talk network has apparently been very strong. If such a thing had existed when I worked in Corporate land I am sure I would have made the most of it.

Nestlé contact parents on their return and remind them about the Parent Pal mentoring and the Parent Talk network. This is to make sure they are fully aware of the support and mentoring available.

Flexible working

I will quickly mention the flexible working policy. They are independent of the main parental policies and is still being finalised. Nonetheless, Nestlé is open to job shares and other forms of flexible working, something that parents and caregivers often require.

An end-to-end journey for parental support at Nestlé

Those are the main points of the parental policy. The idea was to have an end-to-end journey that kicks in when a parent is expecting a child. It continues during any parental leave they take. Then serves to help them back into the workforce when leave has ended and via the ParentPal network, help them as their parenting adventure progresses.

It’s clear that Nestlé has created a parental support policy that is inclusive of traditional and non-traditional families. It’s good to see the secondary carer leave paid in full for a month. Money is a major barrier to men taking anything more than the bare minimum leave entitlement.

I also see huge value in the Parent Talk network. It not only helps parents overcome social isolation, but provides support and mentorship. It’s a great initiative that I can see appealing to mums and dads.

Nestlé is clearly taking steps to appeal to employees with families. If you were thinking of moving jobs but need to balance work and family life or think you will in the near future, you should see what roles Nestlé has to offer.

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Business And Careers

The Importance of Language in Recruitment

Language is a funny old thing. Seemingly harmless phrases can be saturated with hidden meaning. Study after study has found that this can put talented people off applying for jobs and halt their career progression in the process. Added to that, poorly worded job descriptions and job adverts can cost businesses money.

Let me give you a few examples. An advert stating the candidate must have “strong English language skills” may sound reasonable, but you may put someone off from applying who is a fluent, if not native, speaker of the language.

How about this one. A requirement that candidates must be “clean shaven” could put off candidates who have facial hair for cultural or religious reasons. This also suggests the recruiter is looking to recruit a male.

As I’ve touched on race and ethnicity, let me expand on this. The inability of employers to fully appreciate BAME talent is costing them dear. According to the 2017 McGregor Smith Review of race in the workplace, if BAME talent were properly captured by the UK’s employers, it could add a cool £24billion to the economy.

Sexist Language to Avoid

Job adverts can also be unwittingly sexist. According to one academic study, frequently used words such as: Ambitious, assertive, decisive, determined and self-reliant are seen as masculine. Women are less likely to apply for roles described this way, not because they feel they’re unqualified, but because they don’t feel they’ll fit the working culture.

Conversely, words such as: Committed, connect, interpersonal, responsible and yield are seen as feminine words. Use these in an advert and you may reduce the number of male applicants.

Remember Essential Job Details

A much more basic mistake employers frequently make is to miss essential details from an advert. If a role is available on a flexible basis from day one, say so in the advertisement. Staff have many different reasons for wanting to work flexibly and if you don’t say so at the start, you’ll be reducing the number of applicants your role will appeal to. Remember also to include details of parental leave.

Back in the days when I worked full time, I would always look at a job advert to see if childcare vouchers were part of the employee benefits package. This can be a deal breaker for employees with children under the age of three.

In fact, I once got to interview stage with a job. I asked the interview panel what the benefits package was like. This was a trick. It was their chance to tell me if they offered childcare vouchers or to say something about the pension scheme.

The lead interviewer was flummoxed by my question. After a brief pause, he said “Well you get a salary.”

As I had the one child under the age of 12 months, I took this as a signal that I wasn’t going to fit in. Not that it mattered as I was never offered the job!

Age and Physical Ability

Age is something else to be wary of. To be successful you want a diverse workforce and this includes having older and younger workers. Don’t underestimate the knowledge and experience that older staff can bring. Phrases such as ‘energetic’, ‘work hard/play hard’ and ‘digital native’ could be off-putting for older, more experienced applicants.

Another population to be mindful of are those living with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities may have a greater need to work flexibly so make sure your job description makes this clear. Likewise, phrases to avoid include ‘able-bodied’ or ‘bending and crouching to install equipment under desks’ (someone with a disability may not be able to bend and crouch, but have other ways to get under a desk!).

Main Language points to Remember

Having outlined what you should avoid, here are the main points to keep in mind to ensure your job advert is inclusive and attracts applicants from diverse backgrounds. Firstly, make sure essential details such as right to flexible working, parental leave and childcare vouchers are in the advert.

Keep in mind various phrases display unconscious bias and will be off-putting to both women and men. Take the time to look at your job advert and question whether staff really do need to be clean shaven, have short hair or free of piercings. Such requirements could make you seem out of touch at best, sexist at worst.

Are you familiar with the phrase “show me don’t tell me?” Could you make a video about the job and your requirements? A video can do wonders to showcase your organisation’s culture. You may also get across more in a two or three-minute video than you will on paper and you’ll stand out from other employers.

The final point is just to spend time looking at each word and phrase you use. A ‘work hard/play hard’ culture may sound appealing to you, but it could put off the enthusiastic 60-year-old who could make all the difference to your business. You don’t want to miss out on recruiting them just because a phrase appeals to you.

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Business And Careers Careers Advice Parenting

Are universities too powerful in the modern world?

University degrees are overrated. There, its out there and I am not taking it back! I have major concerns about the stranglehold universities have over both our children’s education and their future recruitment.

I first began to question the value of degrees a few years ago. When I was on the interview panel seeking, to recruit an individual for an entry level media relations role. Numerous graduates had applied for the job and every applicant’s CV followed the same pattern. Degree followed by 12-18 months work in either unpaid or short-term internships, often lasting around three months.

Discrimination against people both with and without University Degrees

This experience made me question what was going on in the world of recruitment. It seemed to me that there were so many graduates looking for work that employers could be hyper-selective. To the point that young adults who had left university tens of thousands of pounds in debt could find themselves working unpaid before securing their first entry level role.

Were they in a better position than someone who left school and went straight into work after school? At least the 18 year old school leaver would be earning a proper salary by their early twenties.

I heard of another horror story that demonstrates the negative impact mass university education has had on recruitment. Someone I know with 18 years’ experience working in IT management interviewed for a new job. One of the interviewers asked why his degree wasn’t on his CV. My friend explained he didn’t have a degree, at which point the atmosphere changed. He never heard from the interview panel again. I can’t say for certain what the problem was on this occasion, but I’ll take a guess.

Encouraging young people to finish school and go to uni has been going on for the past 25 years. Government policy was to get at least 50% of youngsters into higher education. This was only dropped in the past few months. The result is that we now have 25 years’ worth of graduates in the workforce. Many of them in managerial positions and recruiting staff. These managers naturally want to recruit their own kind and so graduates have the edge. We’re now in the ridiculous position where many administrative roles require you to have a degree.

For Universities, with great Power comes great Profit.

Universities are doing nothing to stop this. They’re making a fortune in tuition fees. It’s not in their financial interest to make degrees difficult or be fussy about who they let through the doors.

As if to prove the point, I recently bumped into an academic I know while at the supermarket. It was a typical lockdown thing, we hadn’t seen each other in several months and so spent the best part of half an hour, facemasks covering our faces, putting the world to rights while stood next to shelves of dried pasta (one metre apart, obviously).

During our chat, he admitted to me that some of the degrees his students study were bumped up to the Masters degree. The degree had been simplified so it could include modules on skills such as giving presentations, the kind of thing a corporate trainer teaches you in a day.

Students are leaving university around £60,000 in debt. What are they getting for that debt? If this is a typical example my friend gave, it suggests that many students are getting sub-standard degrees. They will spend a year or two in insecure, poorly paid work before getting an entry level job. I am not against universities or degrees, but I find myself seriously questioning the wisdom of mass, degree-level education.

Alternatives to University

Universities definitely have their place in the higher education system. What’s happened, however, is that alternatives are thin on the ground. I am just old enough to remember polytechnics. They were much derided, but with hindsight I think it’s fair to say they had an incredibly valuable place in our education system providing technical, vocational qualifications.

I’d also question whether teachers and career advisers do enough to encourage youngsters to consider apprenticeships or Higher National Diplomas. Modern apprenticeships, especially higher apprenticeships, look like a superb way to gain a degree and work experience without building up any of the debilitating debt (someone I know involved in recruitment tells me his organisation recruits apprentices and also has a graduate fast track scheme. He says the apprentices are often brilliant whereas many of the graduates arrive “with an attitude problem.”)

The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has publicly said he thinks there is a “snobbishness” around vocational qualifications and that he wants this to change. I think he is absolutely correct and I am delighted to see the Government introducing T-Levels and is pushing to increase the profile of apprenticeships. For any dads wishing to give their kids some career advice vocational qualifications are something to consider.

The recruitment industry, however, has a role to play. If an employer or a manager says a role should only be open to graduates, recruitment agencies and HR professionals should ask why. Employers and managers need to challenge their own bias about non-graduates.

Mass, degree education may have seemed like a good idea when it was introduced. A quarter of a century later, I think we need to ask if the power unwittingly given to universities is doing more harm than good.

If you want to read more about this topic why not have a read of why the apprenticeship route is a smart alternative choice to university.

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Business And Careers Careers Advice Parenting

Dads: Careers advice for your children

As your children get older, your role as a father changes. While my eldest daughter is only 12, I have found myself having to give careers advice. And have to talk to her about the educational choices required to achieve her career choices.

Giving careers advice to youngsters presents certain challenges because the world of employment moves rapidly. When I was young, internships didn’t exist. Neither did modern apprenticeships and if you didn’t go to university, people would cross the road to avoid you (okay, slight exaggeration but university was the expected route for most people).

So what careers advice should a father give to their child in 2021? How can you make sure you are not giving advice suitable for the 1990s? I’ve spoken to a recruitment expert and leadership expert (both dads, fittingly), a higher education expert and a Government Minister to find out.

Don’t expect to have everything figured out from day one

As a teen, I felt under immense pressure to decide what I was going to do with my life. Much of the pressure came from my family who wanted to know I had a firm career path. But transformative coach Matthew Fox says this is a mistake.

“Don’t feel that you have to have worked out how life is going to be from day one. There are many chapters that will unfold which you can’t predict or control. Enjoy each of them as they lead to the next one.”

Fox, who works with senior leaders and business owning dads, added that you “shouldn’t compare yourself to others” and that you should “be ready to jump at opportunities when they arise.”

I found these comments very interesting. I was expecting something about choosing your A-levels. Fox, however, seems to be suggesting flexibility and a positive mental attitude will take you far (you can check out Fox’s leadership and fatherhood podcast here).

Consider vocational qualifications

The Government has made no secret of its desire to make more vocational qualifications available and to increase their appeal. One of the newest qualifications is the T-Level which was launched last year.

Rather like A-Levels, T-Levels are available to study immediately after GCSEs. You study them for two years and they are a mix of classroom learning and on the job experience. A T-Level is the equivalent to three A-Levels.

Speaking exclusively to DaddyJobs.co.uk, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Gillian Keegan said:

“With course content designed by over 250 leading employers and a nine-week industry placement included, T Levels offer young people a unique opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills businesses need so they can get a head start on their future career.”

As a new qualification, T-Levels are only available in a few industries right now. But they’re going to expand massively between now and 2023. Keegan explained:

“Those interested in designing buildings or managing construction sites should take a look at the T-Levels in Construction, young people keen to explore a career working with children should think about the Education and Childcare course and anyone thinking of becoming a programmer or a software engineer should consider our Digital T Levels.”

T-Levels look like a superb option to academic study and the planned subject areas (see here) are very impressive. These are definitely a qualification to watch, especially if you have a younger teen as more options will be available to them in the next few years. Encouraging children to look into this route could be a good piece of careers advice.

Career paths can be “wiggly”. So your careers advice may need to be “wiggly” too.

Josie Whiteley is a former lecturer, freelance education consultant and vice-chair of the National Education Union Leadership Council. (In other words, she’s a big deal in the world of higher education).

As you might expect, Whiteley is an advocate of higher education. Stressing that youngsters should make choices based on their interests:

“When making choices whether for GCSEs or jobs choose subjects/specialisms/areas that interest you, not what your parents or teachers say you ought to study.”

While big on education, Whiteley says practical skills are important: “Dads should ensure their kids know how to budget to survive college, the real world or a job.”

Whiteley also said dads should encourage their offspring to research career choices. As they may be working in their chosen field for years, maybe decades. Even so, she said young people should not panic if something doesn’t work out: “If you make a wrong subject or career choice you can always change. Your road map to reach your ideal job might just look a bit more wiggly than a straight route from A to B.”

It’s about YOU

“I’ve interviewed thousands of people over the years and I can categorically tell you, not one person has been offered a role where they didn’t fit the company.” says recruitment specialist and dad Phil Palmer, AKA The Corporate Dad.

Palmer has not only worked in recruitment for 12 years, but is trying to help his 18-year-old daughter navigate “the important choices in her life”. He believes that “education is just one of the tools that you will need. A lot can come down to ‘you’.”

He adds that having a degree can be important for certain roles. He states:

“I wouldn’t want an unqualified doctor working on my appendix”. But stresses he’s known graduates starting in admin roles and senior C-suite executives without degrees.

Palmer says social skills are vital, especially in an interview scenario. Answering with yes / no answers won’t get you far.

“What do you like? Can you hold a conversation and talk about interesting and relevant facts? Do you actively listen?”

I thought this advice followed on nicely from Fox’s. Employers want to know that you are the right person for the role and that you have the skills to do the job well. Again, it’s not simply about qualifications as it can come down to your ability to hold a conversation and communicate.

In summary; a good piece of careers advice is that character is important

Providing your children with careers advice is never going to be easy. Speaking to these experts, however, shows that an individual’s character is vitally important. This will dictate their attitude to decision making and study. It’ll also dictate whether they fit in an organisation and have skills such as communication and listening skills. Qualifications definitely have their place, but youngsters shouldn’t feel railroaded down the academic route. If there’s one thing I have taken away from this exercise, it’s that career paths are not always straight. Youngsters should not feel pressured to have their life mapped out at a young age. They may not know what they want to do at first and mistakes can be undone. It’s up to us parents to support the decisions our children make. And accept the fact we may not necessarily agree with them.

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Flexible Working Parenting Shared Parental Leave

Supporting Men in the Workplace upon Return to Work

As Governments of the United Kingdom cautiously signal a slow easing of lockdown restrictions, employees are going to trickle back into the workplace. They may not return five days a week, but return they will. This begs the question: What steps are employers taking to welcome back men into the workplace?


That may sound like a sexist question, but it isn’t. Allow me to explain why:


Many employers are used to welcoming female staff back to work after a prolonged period of maternity leave. Employers often have Keeping In Touch days and other initiatives for women, but not men. Added to this, in most households it is mum who balances work while doing most of the childcare. The past year has been very different. Fathers have been around to help with getting the kids ready in the morning, with remote learning and been much more involved with family life.


This has resulted in a big shift in mentality for lots of men. Far from being sexist, what we’ll hopefully see is men taking on more of the childcare and domestic burden at home. Thereby freeing women up to concentrate on work and their careers. The question is, are employers ready for this monumental change in working culture?


Men’s domestic roles have changed


I asked Ian Dinwiddy for his opinion. Ian operates Inspiring Dads, a coaching service for men in the workplace who struggle balancing work and family life. I asked how he thought employers should prepare for welcoming dads back to the workplace:


“For many people, the return to the workplace will be fraught with tension, potential ongoing concerns about personal safety, and the ‘simple’ emotional challenges of change.


“To support men, it is vital to take the time for an individual assessment of needs, both from a mental health perspective and work life ‘balance’ perspective. Many men will have fundamentally changed their domestic role, especially dads caring for children, and altered their expectations of the trade-offs they are prepared to accept.”


As you can see, Ian confirmed what I’d been thinking: Many men will have reassessed their role in the home. Ian also issued the following warning:


“Any failure to recognise and carefully support men are likely to store up well-being, performance, and talent retention issues for businesses everywhere.”


What the employer organisations say


With Ian’s words ringing in my ears, I approached the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). I asked what advice it was giving employers about welcoming back men into the workplace. I was directed to this article on the FSB website.


Credit where it’s due, the article addresses Ian’s concern that employees might be concerned about the risks posed by returning to the workplace. It also mentioned childcare and the possibility of furloughing staff for longer if necessary so they can deal with children. That said, the FSB didn’t offer any specific advice for supporting dads (or mums) when they return to work.

My next stop was the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). The CBI had a dedicated Coronavirus Hub on its website with some great resources. There were ideas and case studies to help employers support staff mental health and support staff working from home. There was mention of the stresses faced by “working parents” but nothing about easing working dads back into the workplace.


Having looked at a couple of employer organisations, I approached an employer directly. Zurich is a company with a reputation for being a very forward-thinking organisation with a good approach to gender equality. I made enquiries about how it was preparing for staff to return and if it had identified any issues where men in the workplace might need some additional support.

The insurer hasn’t yet firmed up its plans. It is still “considering how to welcome staff back to the workplace” so it’s unclear at this stage what support will be available.

How to support men returning to the workplace

All things considered, I felt more than a little underwhelmed with how UK employers are preparing to welcome men back into the workplace.
With no one else providing tips for helping male employees back in to the office, I’ve put together a few suggestions:

  1. Be mindful of the fact men are less likely to acknowledge and admit they are having difficulties re-adjusting to office life. Have regular catch-ups. Ask how they are doing and make sure they are familiar with any workplace counselling services or mental health support that is on offer.
  2. Why not introduce Keeping In Touch days for all employees before they return to the office? There is no reason why these can’t run virtually.
  3. Look at the diversity training undertaken by your management team. Do they undertake training to better understand the stresses and strains faced by mums AND dads? A lot of diversity training ignores dads. This is a big oversight. The reality is that many employers are more flexible in their approach to working mothers. After a year of working from home, much of it spent in the company of their children, dads will expect equal treatment. Managers need to be aware of this.
  4. Are you ready and prepared for a surge in requests from male employees who want to formalise flexible working arrangements? They’ve spent a year balancing work with childcare responsibilities and been productive. And employers need to give all such requests serious consideration thinking long and hard before turning them down.
  5. Keep in mind that employees may have other caring responsibilities. They may be looking after an ill or disabled family member or spouse.

Being Aware that Change has taken place

To wrap up, let me make clear that women should receive the same levels of support. But employers need to be aware of how a year of working from home will have impacted and changed the expectations of fathers.

Things have changed a lot for men and employers need to accept this and take appropriate action. If they don’t, men will talk to employers who offer greater understanding and flexibility.

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Business And Careers Flexible Working

CV alternatives: What you need to know

This month I’ve spoken to some specialists to find out what alternatives exist to the CV and what job seekers might need to keep in mind.

The economy and jobs market are at an interesting juncture. We all know COVID-19 has led to huge numbers of redundancies, but with the vaccine roll out going well there are reasons to be hopeful and positive signs the economy will soon grow again.

If you are one of those people who lost their job or are thinking now might be the time to seek a new challenge, you need to be aware of how the recruitment process has changed over recent years. The good old curriculum vitae or CV used to be the standard tool for all job seekers. To stand out these days, you may need to do something a bit different. 

Let’s take a look at what the experts said.

The Hardcore CV Dodger

Charlotte Nichols is the managing director of PR and Marketing agency Harvey and Hugo. Wanting potential recruits to get creative and demonstrate their skills and talents, she started a campaign called #HarveySaysNoCVs. While few recruiters go to quite these lengths, it shows that recruiters are taking a different approach to the old “sift and interview” way of doing things. Nichols said her favourite CV alternatives were: 

1. Website 

2. Video

3. Animation 

Automated Tracking Systems (ATS)

Have you ever applied for a job online? Odds are the recruiter has used an ATS system. Essentially, this part of the recruitment system is automated. According to Matthew Hunter, Industrial Director at MET Recruitment, an ATS can be set up to look for certain key words, employer names, years of service in particular roles and educational background.  

Do you feel uncomfortable reading that? You aren’t alone. As Hunter says: “ATS Application Forms take the personal touch of out of recruitment.”

There are also common pitfalls people make, such as assuming details about education aren’t important. Hunter advises that if the application involves an application via ATS, you should: “Read up on the role read up on the role thoroughly and almost write your application with one eye on ensuring all answers are pointing towards what the system is looking for.”

Don’t Forget Social Media

A further suggestion put forward by Hunter is to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and dynamic. A lot of recruiters spend time on LinkedIn looking for candidates so keep this in mind when posting to the platform. Think about how you present yourself to the world. A surprising number of people use profile pictures that wouldn’t look out of place on a dating website (…and that’s never a good look).

LinkedIn may be quite an obvious choice of social media platform, but how about Clubhouse? The audio-only social media platform is looking to recruit a senior executive and is using a novel approach to recruit them.

Applicants have to send an email to People and Culture Director Jenny Battenhall, explaining why they’re correct for the role. If applicants make it through to the next round, they will undertake an interview with Clubhouse’s Chief Executive Officer Drew Benvie in a closed room on the platform.  

Interviews on Clubhouse are unlikely to be mainstream any time soon. Even so, Battenhall pointed out that COVID-19 has made video interviews very popular. She said candidates should be prepared for this and ensure all the necessary tech works properly. 

Personal Website

Hardcore CV dodger Charlotte Nichols wasn’t the only person I spoke to who mentioned personal websites as being important. It seems this is becoming a much more common way to get your name out there. 

Deepak Shukla is founder of Resumé Cats. Interestingly this is a CV design service, but Shukla has had to move with the times. 

He said: “Personal landing pages are an excellent way of showcasing your work portfolio, previous employer or client testimonials and writing proficiency. They should be designed with search engine optimisation (SEO) in mind, enabling potential employers to find you organically through Google searches.”

What of the CV?

As you can see, the CV isn’t quite as central to the recruitment process as it once was. Nonetheless, some feel it still has a place. 

Employment Solutions recruits candidates in the engineering and manufacturing sectors. Chris Taylor, Technical Team Leader, had the following advice for anyone putting a CV together: 

“Remember that a CV should just be a snapshot of your experience to date. Before we send a candidate’s CV for a potential role, we tend to remove a lot of the personal information that has been supplied. Keep it simple, all you need is your name, contact details and overview of relevant experience.”

Chris Taylor, Technical Team Leader

Creativity is Key

As you can see, there are many alternatives to the CV. It seems a good place to start is to create a personal website and to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and fresh

Whatever else you do, be it a video, an animation, an ATS application or even if you have to apply for a role using a CV, creativity will be key. Employers need people to demonstrate their relevant experience clearly and in a way that’s original. 

To finish off, why don’t you tell DaddyJobs.co.uk if you think the traditional CV is dead? Its parent company Find Your Flex is asking people for their opinions and to explore the role of unconscious bias and alternative CV’s in recruiting. It’s a really simply survey and you can take part by following this link and have your voice heard. 

Want to take a look at what Flexible Working might look like for 2021? Click through to read some interesting predications.

Categories
Flexible Working

Why flexible working for grandparents is essential

When my kids started school, there was a group of people I didn’t expect to see in the playground on the school run: Grandparents. Some granddads and grandmothers collected children every day.

It quickly became clear there was a huge army of working parents relying on grandparents to look after little ones. It also came as a bit of a surprise to see this, possibly because of my own circumstances. My wife and I live hundreds of miles away from our families, so we’ve never been able to rely on grandparents for day-to-day support.

That said, there’s one grandad in our extended family who looks after his grandchildren a great deal. He’s retired and in his seventies but very proud of what he does. It’s always a delight to talk to him and hear what he’s been getting up to with his grandsons.

Support for grandparents in the workplace 

Do grandfathers and grandmothers get the support, help or recognition they deserve? To be honest, the picture seems to be a bit messy. 

Here are a few facts. According to the Usdaw Union, there are 14 million grandparents in the UK, half of whom are under the age of 65 so it’s reasonable to assume around 7million of these individuals are still working. Half of all kids under the age of five spend some time being looked after by grandparents. And 2.2million grandparents look after grandchildren to allow mum and dad to work.

Many of these grandparents are what’s known as ‘sandwich carers’. Us parents may think we’ve got it tough with young children, but sandwich carers are looking after two generations. They’re usually looking after their own parents, while also providing childcare for grandchildren and holding down a day job. 

We often think of parents needing flexible working. As the statistics I’ve quoted above show, the older generations are under just as much pressure than their younger counterparts and in the case of sandwich carers, they’re arguably under even more pressure. 

Do we do enough to recognise the immense contribution grandparents make both as employees and as caregivers? I would say their efforts often go unnoticed and unrecognised and employment law doesn’t always make things easy for them.

Flexible working for grandparents, but it’s not all good news

The good news is that grandparents have the right to request flexible working, just like anyone else. Beyond this, things get a bit difficult for any grandfather or grandmother providing care, especially if its for grandchildren.

Employees generally have the legal right to “time off for dependants” if there is an emergency. The catch is that dependants usually have to live with you. 

Unpaid parental leave is another possibility. The catch? You must have legal parental responsibility for any child you are looking after. Yet this won’t apply to the majority of grandparents. 

The impact of COVID-19 on working parents and grandparents

I have somehow got to this point without mentioning the impact of COVID-19. Various campaigns have sprung up recently calling for parents to have the right to be furloughed because they have childcare responsibilities.

Part of the problem is that some grandparents are having to shield or are simply too nervous about catching COVID to look after grandchildren. It’s creating a childcare crisis and some employers are losing staff as a result. 

Hopefully this is just a temporary blip and we’ll return to the ‘new normal’ once the vaccine has been rolled out. When we do return to normal (whatever that normal is) flexible working has to be a the centre of it to enable employers to recruit and retain the best talent and enable parents and grandparents to keep working if that’s their wish.

Older workers have a lot to offer

If we want to make it easy for employers to recruit and retain the best talent, we have to make flexible working available and acceptable for all employees. This includes grandparents who may have all manner of caring responsibilities. Such as looking after grandchildren while mum and dad work.

We also need to recognise that older workers have a lot to offer employees. One of the most compelling arguments I heard for encouraging older men to stay in the workplace is that they have benefitted from a working culture that excluded women. As they reach the end of their working lives, these men make great mentors for women and have lots of knowledge to pass on to younger women who lack female role models and are starting out on their careers. If we don’t make it easy for these older men to stay in the workplace, that knowledge will be lost and no one will benefit from it.

These grandparents deserve our recognition and our support. They’re doing many of us younger workers a huge favour. Employers may be doing their bit by allowing flexible working for grandparents who are caregivers, but it’s a shame employment law hasn’t caught up.

You can check here to see what the predicted changes are for flexible working for 2021: Flexible Working: Predictions For 2021

Or if you are a someone who is looking for a new job with flexible working hours, you can search our jobs board to find the right fit for you: https://jobs.findyourflex.co.uk/

Categories
Flexible Working Parenting

The Pressures Felt By Working Dads

The subject of my first blog post of 2021 is very timely. I had planned to write something about the pressures felt by working dads. As COVID-19 yet again closes schools and the workforce is ordered to work from home, those pressures will be plain for all to see in households across the country.

The reason I wanted to write this post is that I regularly see working parents in the media discussing the pressures they feel. Nines times out of then those parents are mums. Tens times out of ten, the discussion focuses on the pressures faced by parents with very young children. If there’s one community that is consistently overlooked, it’s dads like myself. Dads with children in the middle years of childhood.

What pressures do working dads face?

With that point made, what pressures do dads face? Ultimately, the pressures felt by working dads come from two sources: Their employer and their family. I shall first look at the pressures employers often unwittingly place on male staff. 

Unconscious bias is a huge problem. Managers frequently pressure men to put work before family. Why? Well, they’re men and childcare is women’s work innit? I know of one woman, a well known academic as it happens, whose husband was once asked “Why the **** can’t your missus do it?” When he made clear to his boss that he had to undertake a routine childcare task. 

I’ll give a further example. The University of Birmingham and University of Kent recently did a research project into working practices during the pandemic. It found that managers contacted male employees working at home twice as much as female ones. Their seemed to be an understanding that women might be busy with kids. Whereas men would be 100% available to their employer at all times.   

Attitudes like this fail to appreciate that most households are dual income. They also fail to appreciate that men have responsibilities away from the workplace. Striking a good work / life balance is made all the tougher when your employer doesn’t want to acknowledge your life away from work.

Pressures from the family

When a man becomes a dad or a child is born, he will often take some shared parental leave. The arrival of a newborn is an exciting time, but it does also come with some stress. Sleep and feeding patterns have to be established. If a couple already have children, their needs must be attended to also. 

In my experience, employers are generally quite good at acknowledging these stresses. That won’t be every man’s experience, but it is mine. 

As kids get older, dads can have real issues because they are pressured not to get involved with their children so they can focus on work. If you have school-aged children, just take a moment to think about the last Nativity play you attended or sports day your child participated in. (I know you may have to think back to the pre-COVID era!). 

How many dads were there? I’ll wager there were some, but not nearly as many as mums. 

I know some dads genuinely struggle to get the time off work because of the nature of their employment, but many simply don’t see such events as in their ‘fatherly job description.’ This is partly because employers don’t always make it easy for men to do these things. 

Men also feel pressured by the culture of presenteeism. Hopefully COVID-19 will spell the end of this phenomena, but men’s working hours actually increase when they become dads. It’s long been thought this is because men feel pressured to provide for their families and the one way you can do that is to work, work, work. 

If a child falls ill and gets sent home from school, dads find themselves under pressure. This is something I have personal experience of. I once received an email from my boss asking me to do everything I could to make sure I didn’t have to leave the office to look after my child in future. 

Flexible working is the answer

If I were a working mum reading this post, I may well be saying: “I face all these challenges too.” 

It’s important to recognise that working mums do indeed have to deal with these issues. The big difference? Flexible working is much more acceptable for women. Managers often receive training about the pressures mums face, but not the pressures working dads face. 

Flexible working can do so much to unleash the talent of both female and male workers. The good thing is that change is afoot. Younger men are demanding the right to work flexibly so they can better balance work and family. The stats released by Find Your Flex that I published in last month’s blog post show a surge of men looking for flexible job roles. 

I just hope this is a change we see continuing. Long term it will benefit everyone: Dads, mums, children and also employers. 

Categories
Flexible Working

Flexible Working: Predictions For 2021

Since March of this year, we’ve seen a seismic shift in working culture courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic. Flexible and remote working have become the norm for many employers and employees. But what does 2021 hold for the future of flexible working? Here are our predictions for 2021.

Many jobs can be done on a flexible basis, that has been proven. Many mums and dads have benefitted from this. Without time spent commuting and with the help of Microsoft teams or Zoom, parents and carers have been around more for their children. 

Ian Dinwiddy, Inspiring Dads

Ian Dinwiddy is a man who knows a thing or two about the changes to working culture. He runs Inspiring Dads, a coaching service for men who want a better work life balance. Asked about the future of flexible working, he said: 

“Covid has exposed the myth that widespread remote and flexible work will be the death of business. There are challenges around wellbeing and connectivity. But, those firms who embrace the new normal will continue attract the best talent and break the paradigm of presenteeism.”

Ian Dinwiddy, Inspiring Dads

As Ian says, it seems hard to believe that we’ll ever go back to the traditional Monday to Friday nine to five job. A COVID-19 vaccine may make it more viable for employees to return to the workplace. However, will we return to pre-COVID-19 work patterns? I spoke to a few experts to find out what they think the future holds for flexible working.

Cheney Hamilton Of Find Your Flex

Where better to start than on your doorstep? I asked Cheney Hamilton, founder and Managing Director of Find Your Flex, DaddyJobs.co.uk’s parent company, what trends she was seeing. Buckle up, because the trends Cheney reports are staggering:

  • Male audience up by 47% in just 30 days
  • Spikes in the 25-34 and 45-45 age groups
  • A whopping 87% of users being ‘new’ as opposed to ‘returning’ visitors in the same period. Which Cheney said: “Shows active/new job seekers are in the ascendancy versus the ‘browsing’ job seekers.” 

Asked about whether more organsiations were advertising roles flexibly, Cheney said:

“We are seeing an increase in ‘non-traditional’ industries entering into the flexible working space. Moving away from White Collar office environments, into Engineering, Healthcare and Retailers.  We are also seeing a marked uptick in diversity and inclusion led flexible working briefs for roll out in 2021.”

Cheney Hamilton, The Find Your Flex Group

Interestingly, Cheney mentioned diversity and inclusion. Some groups, such as those in the disabled community, stand to gain if flexible working becomes the norm. Find Your Flex has been collecting data from users. It does indeed show that users are incredibly diverse. The audience is made up of a range of religious, educational and ethnic backgrounds to name just a few. 

Working Families

Working Families is a charity that promotes flexible working. Catherine Gregory, Head of Marketing and Communications. Asked if home working was likely to become permanent, Catherine said: 

“It’s clear that there’s no going back to business as usual after the massive shift to home working and flexible working precipitated by COVID-19. Employers have realised that many more jobs can be done on a flexible basis than they’d thought before.”

Catherine Gregory, Working Families

She added that productivity hadn’t “taken a hit,” something evidenced by charity’s recent employer member survey. Might we see working from home two or three days a week becoming the norm? 

Catherine said she hoped employers wouldn’t be too prescriptive as some people preferred office working, while others didn’t. 

“The important thing,” Catherine added, “is that employers are looking at outputs as opposed to time spent physically in the office.”

She added that when Working Families surveyed parents about their preferred working patterns, only 1% wanted no flexibility. She made the very important point that flexible working wasn’t simply about home working. It could mean part-time, compressed hours and so on.  

Han-Son Lee, Founder Of The DaddiLife Fatherhood Website

Han-Son said the initial lockdown allowed lots of new flexible working opportunities to emerge. However, whilst this is working well for most parents, he made the important point that maternity discrimination got worse. 

Looking forward, Han-Son believes that having been given a taste of what a flexibly working world could look like, parents will work together. 

“I believe what will start to evolve are ways by which parents can ally with one another. Ways they learn from each other and take the effective steps forward not as individuals but as a group. The world of ‘parenting and flexible working’ is a very different one to ‘non-parents and flexible working. Dads (and mums and carers) need to put strength in numbers behind their need and opportunity around flexible working. This will make for much more sustained change and underline the vast importance of proper flexible working beyond just Covid.”

Hanson Lee, DaddiLife

Some Striking Similarities

Based on what everyone said, some common themes definitely emerged. The culture of presenteeism will be consigned to history as managers focus on outputs and results, for example. 

Second, everyone was in agreement there will be no return to the old ways of working. The change has happened. Huge numbers of people use sites like DaddyJobs.co.uk to both find jobs or advertise roles shows that flexible working is here to stay. 

The challenge will be to ensure all groups, not just parents and carers, have access to flexible roles. It’ll therefore be interesting to see what the new year brings.