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Guilt, discomfort and departures: new research by NABS reveals the pressures on working parents in marketing and media

by on May 29, 2014 in Latest News, Lead Article, Research

The latest from NABS. The charity has revealed in-depth survey results into the issue of working parents in the industry.

A quick run-down of the results are in bullets

  • – 85% of working parents feel guilty because they have to balance work and parental commitments
  • – 11% have had to leave a job because of the additional pressures
  • – 57% know of someone who has had to leave a job for that reason
  • – over a third of employees have been made to feel uncomfortable by employers or colleagues

But despite this, there are distinct benefits that working parents bring to the industry: 79% of working parents say being a parent gives them a better perspective on work/life, 53% think it makes them more responsible and 50% say it improves their time management skills.

Research unveiled today has revealed the challenges faced by working parents in the advertising and media industries: a massive 85% feel guilty because they have to balance work and parental commitments, one in ten (11%) have had to leave a job because of the additional pressures of parenthood – and more than half (57%) know of someone who’s had to leave a job for that reason.

Furthermore, over a third (35%) have been made to feel uncomfortable by employers or colleagues because of their parenting duties.

The survey of just under 500 parents and non-parents working in the sector, split equally between creative agencies, media agencies and media owners, was carried out by the industry support organisation, NABS. The organisation is striving to empower working parents in the industry and their organisations through a suite of specialised services such as workshops, coaching and knowledge sharing platforms.

The survey demonstrated that becoming a parent can equip you with more skills and can in fact make you a better, more rounded manager. Eight out of ten (79%) say being a parent gives them a better perspective on work/life, 53% think it makes them more responsible and 50% say it improves their time management skills.

And non-parents agree: 64% believe that working mothers in particular have a positive influence on the workplace. However, only a quarter of parents (27%) believe that working makes them a better parent and role model for their children.

Zoe Osmond, CEO at NABS, comments: “Parents – working fathers as well as mothers – face additional challenges every day in such a high-pressure industry. But even with stress, late hours and demanding clients, they have a lot to offer and can bring immeasurable value to their employers.

“Businesses that do more to support working parents aren’t just helping out their employees, they’re ensuring their own success.”

In addition, 26% of parents say they at times feel guilty about the amount of time they spend with their kids because of their work responsibilities. Indeed, 70% of parents often find themselves working in the evenings, yet only 48% of non-parents think their parent colleagues do so.

From 2015, the government plans to provide greater flexibility for working parents, with proposed reforms to legislation allowing mothers to share leave with their partners. As the shift in emphasis moves more towards balancing the roles of both parents, more needs to be done in this area   and to address the needs of working fathers.

The survey found that 29% of fathers don’t believe their companies are doing enough to take their parenting needs into consideration. Additionally, 27% of fathers have in the past been made to feel uncomfortable by their employer or colleagues because of their parenting duties.

This is despite the fact that fathers make up a huge proportion of management teams (76%), whilst mothers make up just 15% of the most senior roles.

Osmond adds: “It’s still a struggle to get working mothers into senior management, as many will not put themselves forward. Meanwhile, others choose not to do so for valid reasons of their own. This is why we’ve been developing workshops to encourage women into leadership roles, helping them develop their careers to the topmost level, and also to support working fathers.

“The agency and media worlds are better than some other sectors, but could still be doing a lot more to encourage, support and develop working parents. These people are much too valuable and important a resource to be left to struggle with their challenges alone.

“Non-parents agree that their colleagues with children have a lot to offer. The last thing any agency or media business should be doing is fostering an environment where being a parent and being a valued member of the team don’t go hand in hand.”

 

 

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