Janet’s perfect for that job . . . because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19, 20 hours a day to it.
The above statement was made by former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell following President Obama’s nomination of Janet Napolitano to head the Department of Homeland Security. Napolitano was unmarried and childless.
The concern is the employers assume that these kinds of workers – ‘single and childless’ have no lives. They can devote all their waking hours to work, they can travel with little or no notice, they can work evening hours, they can work on weekends and holidays. In contrast, working parents get excused from work to attend to their children’s needs. It could be a doctor’s appointment, skating practice, or the child is at home due to a holiday, etc.
In work-life balance, the ‘life’ part is perceived for parenting. Workplace culture regards parenting as the most valued personal time.
It is a negative repercussion of employer behavior for working mothers. On the other hand, single and childless women raise their concerns as they get considered as repositories for the extra work. Married employees earn more and are eligible for numerous employment benefits.
In addition to the gender pay gap, age, and other discriminations, this kind of complaint is chorus and raising. Are these single workers without children are subject to marital and parental status discrimination?
What chief human resource officers (CHROs), the c-suite HR leaders can do at this moment?
Yes, the HR leaders must play a key role to change the perceptions of personal time.
This article does not intend to eliminate family-friendly policies but attempts to throw light on unseen and unintended consequences.
The family-friendly policies or benefits or informal practices include workplace flexibility, leave time, work from home, dependent care services and assistance. In contrast, single women without children concerns revolve around work hours, compensation, pay gap, and other miscellaneous benefits.
In summary, single women without children experience workplace vulnerability. They get treated less well while their counterparts married employees or working parents have a marriage or dependency advantage.
Today’s HR leaders must work on the concerns that single people have their people circle, commitments, interests, and passion. Though this does not matter to office, and the workplace is about work alone, things must even out for all.
A few of the matters to deal include:
the frequency to leave early,
working on holidays,
choice of vacation times,
late evening stay, etc.
Every worker should get treated the same, irrespective of their marital or parental status. Law cannot do everything for everyone. CHROs must create a workplace that is friendly to all employees. The point here is not to target family-friendly policies, but to understand that single people cannot be asked to work for long hours or take over-assignments because they are single.
Tell us how we can improve?