This article was originally published on 3/8/2023
To follow our analysis on gender equality in the workplace in Canada, our second article in this series will investigate how parents are balancing work and family responsibilities. We’ll examine the work-life balance of parents, the experience of pregnant employees, and the remote tools and resources that offer the most support.
What we will cover
Supporting parents in the workplace is vital, whether employees work mainly at the office or remotely from home. Without support, parents cannot fully participate in the economy, which is why the national budget of 2021 pledged nearly $30 billion to improve access to affordable, high-quality child care.
Whether they’re planning to or are currently balancing work and family, employees undertaking parental roles may need extra support from their companies. To uncover the best ways to support working parents, Capterra surveyed nearly 1,000 male and female professionals, 352 of which have children under 18. For the full methodology, scroll to the end of this article.
Family planning and career development
To take the first step in supporting parents in the workplace, we must first understand if their careers are impacting their plans to become parents. When it comes to choosing between career building and family planning, half of all respondents said wanting or having a family had no impact on their career development.
However, significant differences appear when looking separately at the responses of surveyed men and women. Men were more likely to report that their family goals had no influence on building their career, whereas over a third of women (35%) said their career plans were indeed affected by their desire to have a family.
When asked whether they think women find it difficult to choose between family and working life, most respondents (43%) think that this is the case for many of them and 39% of the participants in our survey think that this is a problem for at least a few women, which shows the need for employers to take their needs into account.
Pregnancy in the workplace
It’s important to have human-first processes in place for when employees become pregnant. Pregnant employees in Canada have a right to certain accommodations, outlined by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. These include adjustments to working conditions so employees can perform their job without being limited by discrimination.
Resources for pregnant employees can include a range of accommodations, such as more flexible working hours or the possibility of working from home. However, over a third of mothers working in a company when they got pregnant (35%) say they received no support after sharing news of their pregnancy with their employer.
While it may be easier to wait for an employee to advocate for their own pregnancy-related needs in the workplace, it’s smart to be proactive and be transparent with support options. 19% of women surveyed did not feel comfortable sharing the news of their pregnancy with their manager, showing some companies may need to invest in strengthening their internal communication efforts.
Supporting mothers in the workplace
When it comes to working as a parent, many women have complicated feelings about their perception in the workplace.
Among the struggles women feel as mothers at work:
- 46% feel they’re more likely to be overlooked for promotion opportunities
- 39% feel more likely to be left out of projects because colleagues assume they’re too busy
- 36% feel like a less worthy member of the team
The most common experience amongst employed mothers was a difficult mental load caused by the combination of parental and work-based obligations, which 65% agreed to feeling to some extent.
Managing childcare is a significant difficulty for working parents, especially women, who are more likely to assume the main responsibility for care of children than men are. The Canadian government has identified this issue, signing early learning and child care agreements with the aim of helping families afford the cost of living and empowering them to enter or stay in the workforce. However, as only 11% of women who became pregnant while working in a company were offered nursery agreements, companies may need to go further in crafting their own child care-related stipends and/or making employees aware of existing child care programs within their province.
Balancing work and family
It’s rare for remote or hybrid working parents not to have any difficulty balancing private and professional duties. However, men were more likely to say they didn’t find it hard to juggle these duties, while fewer women shared this sentiment —perhaps due to their higher likelihood of providing unpaid care for children under 18.
It’s vital to offer operational support to both men and women in parental roles while remote working. Many parents working from home report struggling with separating themselves from the job and working too many hours.
Most parents working remotely in Canada find they work too many hours and take on too much stress, not the inverse. Only 13% of these respondents said they weren’t sure if they fulfilled their working hours; flexible working hours paired with time tracking tools can help working parents ensure they can fulfill their work commitments on a schedule that fits their life.
Resources for working parents in the workplace
There are a variety of company-offered resources that can support parents in the workplace. These include changes to their work schedule, child care incentives, and financial compensation.
Our study indicated that Canadian companies offer a range of resources for employees balancing work and family, most of which involve adding flexibility to employee schedules. The majority of parents surveyed (41%) have to excuse themselves at least sometimes from work to take care of their children. Seeing as how 19% excuse themselves even more regularly than this (from “always” to “often”), flexible hours are a valuable policy for many.
Though many employees in Canada are being offered some degree of flexibility at work, it’s not the only policy that can help boost their efficiency and improve their personal organization. Many parents who’ve had to excuse themselves from work duties to take care of their child (40%) say they struggle when it comes to doing overtime and finishing projects while managing child care and household responsibilities. Flexible schedules help, but task management tools may offer extra support, as many of them allow for time budgeting and tracking.
Parents working in a range of work environments (54%) say they’re receiving some resources that help them balance work and family, but they’re not enough. 23% say they don’t get any resources, and the same amount feel they’re getting ‘a lot’ of resources to help them juggle their roles.
Creating equal access to the labour market for Canadians from all backgrounds, especially disadvantaged ones, has been a nationwide goal for many years. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go.
As you go forward with the advancement of gender equality at work, the following takeaways are great to focus on:
- Offer career development opportunities for all employees by creating upskilling, educational, and mentorship programs.
- Be transparent and forthcoming with support for expecting and new mothers in your organization. Provide options for support that include helping parents in balancing work and family, whether via flexible hours, child care agreements, or other benefits.
- Create a parent-positive environment that establishes the support of working parents as a core value of your company. Providing tools to help them manage their dual roles as parents and employees, creating support groups, and organizing family days with events for kids are all effective steps.
- Review the efficiency of the pillars of support regularly to see how well they’re serving the employees that need them.
To collect the data for this study, Capterra conducted a survey in January 2023. To do this, a sample of 982 people was selected and the survey was distributed equally between males and females. To match with the census ratio of the Canadian population, 481 men and 501 women were interviewed. The selection criteria of the participants are:
- Between 18 and 65 years old
- Full- or part-time employees