Laura Good, Deborah Towns and Jesse E. Olsen discuss why work-life balance and gender equality are not only women’s, but men’s issues, too.
Women’s increased participation in the labour force over the past 50 years has outpaced changes to work organisation and social attitudes. This is true for issues of work-life balance, which continue to polarise workers and managers.
But work-life balance and gender equality are not only women’s issues. They belong to men, too.
TIMES ARE CHANGING
In 2001, the Australian Bureau of Statistics declared that the model of a male breadwinner with a wife at home looking after the family was no longer the Australian norm. Having more women in the workforce is certainly a good thing. Gender equality is not only a matter of social justice, but it has also been shown to create business benefits, when managed properly.
Of course, the increase in the number of women in paid employment, particularly mothers, and the changing composition of families over the past 50 years has made the organisation of paid work and care more diverse and complex.
Flexible work has been identified as a significant way for employees to balance their work and outside life. Flexible work entails a variety of measures that may include reduced hours, working from home, a compressed working week and taking time in lieu. Working flexibly can be beneficial for both employees and employers, such as through increased commitment and productivity, and reduced absenteeism.
BUT OUR THINKING HASN’T REALLY CHANGED