Workplace Gender Equality Agency
Research shows that women, especially those with caring responsibilities, are more likely than men to both request and access flexible work. As a result, it is often assumed that flexible work is more relevant to women. Organisational practices are often developed with this perspective in mind. However, workforce demographics and family models have changed (e.g. 63% of fathers with resident dependent children now have a partner in the paid workforce) and this has led to increased work/family conflict for men. This new Australian report notes that many men do not conform to the ideal ‘full-time’ worker model and instead have a range of priorities and aspirations, e.g. to be active and engaged fathers. Research also shows that workplace flexibility is a key driver of employment decisions and job performance for both women and men, including young men, male managers, men approaching retirement and especially younger fathers. Given the above, having greater access to flexible work will enable men to increase their engagement in caregiving and household work, which in turn will help to facilitate gender equality at work. When couples share caring and domestic tasks more equitably, women who have traditionally undertaken the majority of these responsibilities are better positioned to access quality employment opportunities. Yet it is a rare organisation indeed that has focussed on gender equality in caring or on the critical role that men accessing flexible work might play in this.