New research suggests employers' family-friendly policies are failing most women

Journal of European Industrial Training

ISSN: 0309-0590

Article publication date: 1 July 2000




(2000), "New research suggests employers' family-friendly policies are failing most women", Journal of European Industrial Training, Vol. 24 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

New research suggests employers' family-friendly policies are failing most women

New research suggests employers' family-friendly policies are failing most women

Keywords: Women, Employee rights, Discrimination

In her foreword to the Work-Life Manual, published by The Industrial Society, in conjunction with the Work-Life Research Centre, Cherie Booth QC, emphasises the importance to organisations of the work-life balance.

Innovative ways of working are ... an important key to the future success of UK enterprises, to help them stay ahead in a competitive world, attract a wide range of employees and demonstrate social responsibility to their stakeholders and the wider community in which they operate. I know the Government is committed to supporting families and carers and I welcome this manual as a very practical tool to help employers to be more responsive to their needs.

The Work-Life Manual, written by Lucy Daniels and Lucy McCarraher, suggests that a significant reason for the slow take-up of family-friendly policies is that they chiefly focus on women, especially those with young children. Important as the needs of some groups are, balancing work and home is in danger of becoming ghettoised as something for a "needy few" rather than a concern for everyone.

A second factor is the failure in many organisations to involve people at all levels in creating ways of working that accommodate both business and employee needs as we enter a period of unprecedented change in the way we work, driven by new technology and new methods of communication.

Lucy Daniels, co-author of the Work-Life Manual, comments:

Despite mounting evidence of the negative impact of workplace stress on people's health and personal lives, the workplace long-hours culture is alive and kicking, fuelled by competition and fear. Talk of family-friendly policies turns out, all too often, to be more rhetoric than reality, with few people daring to take them up for fear of what it will do to their career prospects.

The Work-Life Manual, based on a study by Dr Suzan Lewis, emphasises that companies that want to thrive in the business environment of the future will need to:

  • adopt a work-life strategy linked to core business objectives;

  • recognise that work-life balance is an issue for all;

  • have leaders who encourage innovative ways of working; and

  • encourage two-way responsibility for balancing work-life priorities.

The manual is designed as a practical tool for all managers and influencers to enable them to create a work-life strategy for their organisation. It includes best-practice case studies from large, medium and small organisations in all market sectors, and gives critical factors for successful implementation, plus checklists and worksheets to help spread the message. It is priced at £75.00.

For further details contact: The Industrial Society. Tel: 0870 400 100; Fax: 0870 400 1099; e-mail:; Web site:

Related articles