Why employ a woman?

This probably isn’t the type of question that you’d expect the Editor of Vogue – a woman that employs a 90% female team – to be posing. But it is! This article only appeared online this morning and already has almost 200 comments as it’s an issue that always seems to divide people. The main point of the article seems to be: is all the legislation surrounding maternity designed to help women actually doing more harm than good?

It’s a controversial, but very topical, issue. Author Alexandra Shulman raises some good points and it’s quite a brave article to write – as she observed herself: “It’s barely acceptable to write this piece at all – and probably impossible for a man.” She discusses many issues – women expecting to return to their old jobs but working less hours and employers saying that they can promote younger women to take over the jobs for less money. But her main point is this: let’s not make women so difficult to employ that it actually prevents progress.

We could be heading for trouble, as firms – especially SMEs – might think twice about employing women who could at any time announce that they’re taking a year off. So what can we do to make sure this doesn’t happen? The obvious answer seems to be to extend paternity leave. If both men and women were entitled to the same amount of leave, the prospect of employing a woman would be a lot less risky. But as it stands, women get 52 weeks and men get just 2 – for many employers, it’s a no brainer.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts below!

More paternity leave in store?

Could this be the step forward that we need?

The FT reported this morning that the government has backed more flexible parental leave, allowing women who return to work after six months to transfer the remaining maternity leave to their partners. This means instead of the mere two weeks leave that men are now entitled to, they will instead be able to take up to six months – three paid and another three unpaid. This would also apply to gay couples.

This is somewhat of a breakthrough. At W-Tech, one member of the audience came out with a statement and her shock and frank words summed up the current situation. She said: “I’ve been living in Sweden since 2003 – how much time do guys here get for paternity leave? Is it two weeks or something? In Sweden a guy can take up to one and a half years – there’s no discussion about who’s at home with the kids, you both are.”

This seems like a major step forward in the battle for equality – but as always, the war is not yet won. Many businesses are not happy about the changes due to the ‘administrative nightmare’ that it could cause them. And there is still speculation as to how many men would take advantage of the leave. But regardless, this news is definitely a step in the right direction and gives some very real hope for the future.

What do you think? Will we move towards a world where men and women will share the family responsibilities? Or will the women that reach the top continue to be the ones who have made the big sacrifices? Would you be happy to give some of your leave to your partner? Or are the gender roles that we’re in now just so long established that this move just isn’t enough?