Time to be Honest with your Employer?

Nice article on The Pool yesterday (which is an excellent website, by the way), on new research that shows it ‘pays to be honest’ about what we want with potential employers – particularly related to flexible working and childcare.

Earlier this year, a CEO from Deloitte admitted they were losing talent because they were not giving young women what they needed. A chat with my fellow blogger The Eco Feminist highlighted the rather pathetic situation in the US related to mandated maternity leave, described in this New Yorker article as ‘America’s Family Leave Disgrace‘. Despite our own issues we’re still pretty lucky in Europe compared to the US – that’s for sure.

The Pool article links to an interesting campaign called ‘Hire me My Way‘ , which has been launched to ‘offer candidates visibility on who the UK’s best flexible employers’ are. This is good news not just for parents, but also for employees who look after relatives, are disabled or who have mobility issues. Most new jobs are not advertised with part time or flexible options – perhaps this campaign will help fill the gap.


11 thoughts on “Time to be Honest with your Employer?

  1. Nara says:

    My experience, working for a company that is mentioned in many articles about diversity *cough* is that they like to talk the talk, but they haven’t actually put in place real concrete changes, and all these initiatives usually completely overlook the real problem: culture.

    As an example in the UK we now have shared parental leave (where the father or non-giving-birth partner can “share” the maternity leave) but the uptake has been low. Largely due to the perceived effect this would have on men’s careers and masculinity. As well as the perceived “advantage” that women don’t want to “give up” their mat leave. T and I were talking about it and he feels sure that he’d be at risk of redundancy if he took SPL as it’s still not the done thing. At our company there are hardly any men who’ve taken SPL and they usually stick with the two weeks paternity leave plus some saved up/additional bought holiday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Courtney says:

      From own working experience, I agree 100% that companies don’t usually walk the walk, especially companies like the one noted above (I worked at Arthur Andersen for 4 years and they were touted as being fabulous to employees, but in reality… NOPE!). I most recently worked at a top incentives company, always ranking in the top 3 companies for generating productive incentive programs and travel rewards for their customers and we had the worst, most unmotivating incentive programs ever internally. The year I joined, the program was awesome And I earned 5 extra days off, but the directors realized how much it was costing and never did it again, capping it at 1 day the next year and then just reward points every year after (I was there for 9 years). It was really depressing to Read about how great we were and how much we value inventing employees, but we ourselves weren’t incented.

      My husband, though, works for a company that is often ranked #1 in the us (and always in the top 10) for how they treat employees and the benefits they provide and from our experience (7 years), they truly are awesome. They just bumped up PATERNITY leave from 4 weeks to 12, paid 100%. We had no health costs, not even monthly contributions or copays, until Obamacare happened here (“Cadillac plan” which he wanted to tax 40% to pay for his plan). They walk the walk.

      I agree that the US needs to work on their maternity plans, but I do think employees expect too much today. The sense of entitlement of those entering the workforce is infuriating to me. Spoiled brats every which way you look now when hiring.


      • Babyscienceproject says:

        12 weeks paid paternity leave is really good. It’s interesting how you echo Nara’s comments about big companies paying lip service to flexible working and maternity cover – sad really. I think the 12 month maternity leave policy in the UK is very fair, I’m not sure how small/medium employers in Germany and Sweden cope (they have a 3 year maternity leave policy there!). Definitely need to strike a balance between the needs of the employer and the needs of the company. Frankly, though, most big companies can afford to do more (but they don’t).


      • The EcoFeminist says:

        Not sure how you’ve gone from talking up your husband’s employer’s benefits plan to then calling employees “entitled” and “spoiled brats”…please fill in the blanks as to how that relates to the topic.


      • Courtney says:

        I’m simply saying that I’ve seen both perspectives, companies that walk the walk and those that don’t. And I’m saying that in the US, yes there are things that need work (maternity/paternity leave). But there is also sense of entitlement with those entering the workforce that makes most companies seem unreasonable to them no matter what the benefits are. The US gets a lot of bad press for benefits in the workplace and some of that pores is warranted, but people here EXPECT what the top companies are doing, and they can’t all do that. When I was hiring people, the younger candidates expected 5-6 weeks PTO right out the gates, no dress code at all, free soda, and work from home situations before they’d proven themselves. I’m simply saying that expectations of companies have changed, and often times unreasonably because, “that other cool company provides that.”


    • Babyscienceproject says:

      Agreed! There’s an interesting line in The Pool article about a man who pretends he has a dental appointment every time he has to pick the kids up from nursery. He doesn’t want to be ‘judged’ for having childcare responsibilities. Says it all about UK work culture really.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The EcoFeminist says:

    Great post and thanks for the shout-out. I also want to stress to those who term it as “maternity leave” that it’s “parental” leave, as this is a huge problem in our society (in most countries) where women are considered the primary caregiver and men are seen as secondary, rather than both being equally responsible for the upbringing of this child. All the TV commercials are about serving “busy moms” and “working moms” even though there are also “busy dads” and “working dads” -they’re just not termed that because for far too long dads were just paychecks and weekends, not seen as (nor expected to be) full time parents.

    The thing that is interesting in the US is that because we don’t have universal healthcare paid for by taxes to guarantee basic coverage for all, employers here both foot the bill for healthcare AND, if they offer it, paid parental leave. Health insurance companies dictate the rates and employers pay thousands of dollars per employee each year to cover their portion of the premiums (most employers cover between 50-80% of medical premiums) and employees pay the other percentage. Big companies, no big deal to afford this (after all, I as a self-employed person pay a higher percentage of taxes than these companies, for real, not to mention they’re paying millions to their executives), but for smaller companies like the ones I consult with, affording a good benefits plan to attract employees that includes both is very very expensive because of the rates. I’m guessing many would be happy to provide paid leave if we had universal healthcare like the UK and Australia, because those healthcare costs would be gone. But of course then people here bitch about not raising taxes, even though we pay WAY less in taxes in America than most other countries (and we have worse schools and healthcare, and higher crime). Someone’s gotta pay for it, but people won’t vote for paying it themselves, businesses don’t want to do it, and insurance companies certainly aren’t going to be lowering their rates (even though the ACA has actually reduced the cost of healthcare by providing greater accountability).

    So it’s this fountain of bullshit we deal with – people insulting others because they want to take care of themselves and their families by having health insurance and paid parental leave (the latter like all other countries (except Papua New Guinea) in the world), with a lot of selfish attitudes that tell people if you’re in the working class, too damn bad, you shouldn’t have kids if you can’t afford healthcare (seriously, I saw this all over LinkedIn article comments the other day).

    Then, ironically, people like to blame the Affordable Care Act for their rates going up which is total garbage because employers are the ones choosing to be dicks, not the government (PS – some call it ‘Obamacare’ even though the ACA that was passed was a crappy version of what could have been a great plan, where Republicans actually took away the best parts of Obama’s plan including making participation optional for states, and politically conservative states then refusing to participate AND taking away basic medicare benefits from the poor). Before the ACA, as a self-employed person, I was denied individual health insurance coverage based on a pre-existing condition and had to go without any coverage for 2.5 years until it kicked in! Plans used to cap coverage at a certain dollar amount over the course of a year or a lifetime, could charge higher rates based only on gender or on any medical condition. It’s not a perfect plan, but it’s a hell of a lot better than what we had, and I’m just hoping Hillary Clinton can get into the White House and make it better.

    As for us, we’re socking away money to pay for 12 weeks of unpaid leave for my husband should this IVF (which is not covered by insurance) and adoption (which is not covered by insurance, and the “tax credit” out there that we’d get after it finalizes is one we learned that only richer people can take, as you have to have a high enough tax bill to be eligible…ironic, right?).

    Ahhhh….okay back to the garden. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Babyscienceproject says:

      Oh….man. I get very annoyed when people complain about the NHS in this country. We are so damn lucky to have free universal healthcare, even if the system is collapsing under the strain. I had no idea that everything is tied up together in the US – makes sense though, especially related to small and medium sized companies. The US system seems very complex and I struggle to understand it all really. Hopefully Hillary can help introduce some sort of statutory parental leave if she wins. It’s obviously a hot topic but the US needs to get to some sort of middle ground…what you have at the moment seems woefully inadequate.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. thegreatpuddingclubhunt says:

    I went and read the research paper (because I love a good experiment) and I got a bit frustrated about their isolated conclusions (recognised by the NYT). But I see potential to explore other comparisons-such as if you have 4 candidates 2 female (one who is honest about her time period of parental leave, one who skips it off cv) 2 male (one who has taken absence for some kind of car but skipped it off the cv, one who has taken time off for parental leave and was honest) then see who comes out top!!! I wonder….hmmmmm!!!
    Anyway, back to the point about being honest upfront…if you follow Disorderly Love she was recently faced with a conundrum with a potential new employer regarding her infertility treatment. I do truly wonder about this honesty thing and how many companies actually are smart enough/able to be flexible with their workers needs upfront. It’s an interesting endeavor for the future!!!!

    A Great thought provoking post…thank you for sharing 😊

    (I totally skipped over the US v European maternity leave issue for today – I don’t want to rant about that here, but I could easily!!)


    • Babyscienceproject says:

      Yep – it’s also a very small sample size. Probably not a great experiment but quite an interesting outcome. I found it pretty sad that the guy lied about picking up his kids from nursery and instead pretended that he had a dental appointment. Culturally I think it’s a lot tougher for men to be ‘honest’ in the workplace than women….although I suspect women are penalised for their ‘honesty’ when it comes to payrises, promotions etc.


  4. wonkygenes says:

    Yeah I saw that article. Really interesting. I am from the UK and a lot of my friends suffer with the same issues (the policies are in place but not put into practice). But the UK is so advanced in comparison to Italy (women make up 37% of the workforce, the lowest rate in Europe). I’m strongly considering moving back to the UK in the next year or so because of that reason.

    Liked by 1 person

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