Working Mothers and Single Parents
It is anticipated that the coronavirus pandemic will exact a significant toll on women, as school closures increase the burden of domestic care that typically falls to women, and because informal labor is dominated by female workers.
However, single parents of any sex will face similar challenges. In addition, epidemics and their attendant stresses can also increase the risk of domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence. As families face heightened tensions, financial uncertainties and other pressures, women face intensified vulnerabilities. This means managers need a heightened awareness of the unique challenges female Staff face. As employers, we can’t solve the issue of domestic violence alone, but we can spot the signs of team members who are suffering and create safe spaces where people can speak up.
Here are tips on what you can do to help:
Have an explicit conversation with working parents: Managers should seek to understand the conditions under which the working parent believes they can perform best, their concerns about their workflow and other challenges they may be facing. Don’t wait for them to come to you, but reach out and ask how you can support.
Communicate your openness to flexibility: Enquire if there are specific times they need to fulfil their role of a parent, and encourage them to block these times in their calendars. Ask when they will be able to be accessible and responsive. Rather than requiring them to attend all scheduled team meetings, allow them to contribute ideas and manage participation via email instead.
Know what to do if you become aware of the possibility of domestic violence: Communicate your concerns for the Staff member’s safety and raise your concerns with HR, who will be able to recommend a local domestic violence support agency with trained staff. Be clear that your role is to try to help and not to judge. Listen to them and don’t belittle or criticize the reasons a victim stays or returns to the abuser. Both men and women can be subject to domestic abuse. It can be difficult to recognize, especially in situations where the abuse is psychological rather than physical, meaning the impact may not be obvious on the surface.