A new survey reveals that founders, CEOs and senior leaders get the short end of the stick when it comes to flexible working and family-friendly working practices

Businesswoman standing on seesaw

The grass isn’t always greener, especially for those in senior positions within companies. A study from Mumsnet’s Family Friendly programme discovered that CEO’s, MDs and other senior leaders fared the worst when it comes to family-friendly working.

However, they are still in a better position when compared to junior staff members and those on low wages, as staff paid under £25,000pa FTE are the least likely to be provided with assistance when it comes to childcare. In fact, 17% of respondents not in paid work cited the cost of childcare as a main factor for their unemployment. When they were asked to choose from blue-sky items employers could offer to ease the burden, 16% chose ‘an in-house creche or help with emergency childcare’.

73% of respondents (of which 99% were women) stated that having children made it harder for them to progress in their career and 64% admitted they felt less employable because they are parents. Parents who took part in the survey also experienced a culture of hostility when it came to them working flexibly or returning after maternity/paternity leave; a lack of support once they returned from leave and downgrading of roles and responsibilities upon their return.

Employers need to do more to provide a family-friendly working environment and this can be a simple as creating ‘a genuinely constructive and welcoming attitude towards requests for ad hoc flexible working’, which 27% of respondents valued or an ‘openness on the part of line managers/HR department to non-standard or flexible working patterns’, which 19% valued.

Mumsnet Founder and CEO Justine Roberts said: “People think bosses can make their own rules, and to a certain extent they can - but heading up a company or organisation almost always means working harder than you’ve ever worked before, and the reality is that that tends to knock family-friendly working out of the picture. Aspiring leaders with caring responsibilities can be forgiven for wondering what hope there is for accommodating both of these aspects; hopefully, they’ll work out how to do things differently.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan added: “As a proud feminist at City Hall, I find it hard to believe that in 2017 so many mothers in our city have their career prospects limited by a lack of access to flexible working and family-friendly working conditions.”

“London is the best city in the world in which to do business – I want it to be the best city in the world in which to work as well.”

“I am determined to work with organisations like Mumsnet and lead by example on this hugely important issue.”

“As well as increasing the availability of part-time and flexible working options and offering staff across the Greater London Authority family interest-free loans for childcare deposits, I am also launching my Good Work Standard which will support employers in adopting the very best employment standards, including family-friendly policies. Many employers are already doing great work in this area and I want to help spread that work.”