Why male dominated sectors should become family friendly and how they can do it

Why male dominated sectors should become family friendly and how they can do it

There’s a wide range of issues within male dominated sectors but one in particular is how un-family friendly they can be. This has other repercussions that go much further than employees being unable to spend time with their families. It has a huge impact on the mental well-being of the men in those sectors and women often struggle to stay in their jobs in those industries once they become mothers. 


Gender equality is a crucial issue, and one of the areas where it is still a significant problem is the workforce. Many sectors are still male-dominated, and this can be attributed to various factors, including gender stereotypes and biased hiring practices. One of the ways to address this issue is by making these male-dominated sectors more family-friendly.


We need to be doing more in male dominated sectors to ensure they become more family friendly and we’re going to share some ideas of how they can do it in this post. But first…


The truly devastating impact of workplaces not being family friendly


The effects of male dominated sectors not being inclusive can be felt everywhere. Three quarters of death by suicide in the UK are men. Men aged 40 to 49 have the highest suicide rates here, and it’s the largest cause of death for men under the age of 35. Men have reported in a recent government survey that they feel low levels of life satisfaction. Many of these male dominated industries have unsustainably long days meaning they spend less time with family and friends, and are often isolated in other ways, which means they have much higher rates of mental health issues. 


Despite the law allowing men with 26 weeks in a company to access flexible work arrangements (FWA), research shows that dads in the private sector and in male-dominated industries were also more likely to perceive that they cannot reduce their hours. And the same for paternity leave uptake – it’s lower than average. All this means dads spend less time bonding with their children and 


In construction – a heavily male dominated industry – men are three times more likely to die by suicide than the national average for men. Construction work has a variety of pressures from unhealthily long hours and to-the-line deadlines and contracts, isolation, time away from their families and juggling finances in this tricky economic climate, to the additional stress brought by the pandemic and the ever-rising costs of supplies… 


But the real issue within the industry is the culture of toxic masculinity which prevents many construction workers from seeking mental health support and accessing help when they need it. 


If the construction industry were to prioritise becoming family friendly, we would most certainly see a decline in these numbers. And this is 


What difference would being family friendly make?


You could solve some of the issues in construction and other male dominated sectors by introducing more well-being policies, but we firmly believe that focusing on making companies more family friendly would have a massive impact. 


Being able to access flexible working, better than basic parental leave, as well as creating a culture that supports families would mean better health for men, happier and more fulfilled men, because they’d have better relationships with partners and children and a more balanced life. 


Proof it’s possible


There are some companies that aim to lead by example. Sir Robert McAlpine have launched their new “Family First” policy, taking them one step further towards their ambition to be a flexible, family-friendly business and becoming the Best Place to Work. They acknowledge that families nowadays are as diverse as the people who make them up, so have made sure that Family First is not a one-size fits all approach. 


Being family friendly would allow for better gender balance 


If we want women to stand a chance in the workplace, we need to be improving paid parental leave for men. BIT describe how dads are less likely to take paternity leave due to pluralistic ignorance, “the phenomenon whereby people hold a particular opinion privately while  mistakenly believing the majority of people disagree with that opinion”. Basically, men fear that they will be judged for taking leave. 


But did you know that for every additional month of parental leave taken by the father increases the mother’s earnings by 6.7%? That’s because when men take greater responsibility for childcare, not only does it have a huge impact on bonding with their children and benefits society as a whole, it also enables women to progress in workplaces and contributes to reducing gender inequalities.


We can eliminate gender bias in workplaces by encouraging men to take paternity leave and share the parental load. Stop assuming and expecting women to be the main caregivers, and that if they do choose to be they somehow become less capable or less interested in their career. These outdated, stereotype views result in women of child bearing age being less likely to be hired in male-dominated sectors and 77% of mothers have experienced discrimination.



Family friendly workplaces see increased productivity


Policies such as flexible work arrangements, parental leave, and child-care support can improve productivity. Data shows that flexible working policies increase productivity, 43% of employees questioned said that flexible working hours helped them achieve more during their working day, and 30% of those surveyed said that less time commuting allowed them to be more productive. 


When employees feel supported in balancing their work and family responsibilities, they are more likely to be engaged and productive at work.


Family-friendly policies improve retention


We can help to attract and retain talented employees, particularly women by having inclusive policies that acknowledge the challenges of being a parent. Many women leave their jobs or choose not to pursue certain careers because of the difficulties of balancing work and family responsibilities. When your workforce is engaged, they feel more loyal and will spend more time on their work and less time looking for new opportunities. 


By offering family-friendly policies, male-dominated sectors can increase their retention of female employees and benefit from their skills and contributions. Who doesn’t want to save money by retaining highly trained and hardworking staff?


Family friendly workplaces celebrate increased diversity


Male-dominated sectors often lack diversity all-round, which can result in poor-quality decision-making and a lack of innovation. By becoming more family-friendly, these sectors can attract a more diverse workforce, including women, parents, and caregivers. 


A diverse workplace also opens up new opportunities, potential markets and new and exciting ideas which will allow your business to grow its market share by broadening its customer base. This is particularly relevant where your savvy customers and clients value such diversity and fair employment practices, which is becoming the norm.


Companies offering family-friendly policies are often seen as more progressive and caring towards their employees. This can enhance their reputation and make them more attractive to potential employees, customers, and investors.


So how can male-dominated sectors become family-friendly?


Here are 4 ways…


  1. Flexible work arrangements: Offering flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting, job sharing, and flexible hours can help your employees balance their work and family responsibilities.


  1. Parental leave: Providing (more than the bog–standard) paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers can allow parents to take time off to care for their children without sacrificing their careers.


  1. Childcare support: Offering on-site childcare or subsidised childcare makes it easier for your employees to balance their work and family responsibilities.


  1. Training and education: Providing training and education on family-friendly policies and practices can help managers and employees understand the importance of work-life balance and how to implement family-friendly policies in the workplace. It helps shift from a toxic masculinity culture to a family friendly one.


We know that male-dominated sectors have the potential to benefit greatly from becoming family-friendly. 


By offering flexible work arrangements, parental leave, childcare support, and other family-friendly policies, these sectors can improve productivity, retention, diversity, and reputation. However, the implementation of such policies requires a shift in mindset and a commitment from the organisation to create a supportive and inclusive workplace culture that values and respects the needs of employees and their families.