Most Americans Think Companies Should Do More To Help Working Parents

Most Americans don’t think employers are doing enough to help parents return to work after they take time off to raise kids, a new survey finds.

Fifty-seven percent say companies should do more to help parents return to work, according to a HuffPost/YouGov survey conducted in conjunction with the digital recruiting platform Après. Just 27 percent believe it’s parents’ responsibility to deal with the consequences of choosing to leave.

Support for more comprehensive corporate policies is strongest among younger generations. Sixty-three percent of those under age 30 say companies should do more, compared to just 51 percent of those older than 65. Parents with children under the age of 18 are also especially likely to be supportive of such policies, with 64 percent saying they’d like to see companies do more to help parents who have difficulty finding work.

The survey didn’t find much of a gap between men and women on that question. But there’s a gender gap of a different kind: Mothers are more likely than fathers to quit their jobs, reduced their work hours, or taken significant amounts of time off in order to care for a child or family member. For some of them, finding their way back into the workforce can be a struggle.

To get a better sense of the specific challenges women face after having kids, The Huffington Post asked moms who opted out of the workforce, at least for a while, to share their stories.

“Sometimes I think employers are hesitant to hire women who previously stayed home with children because they know they are seen as the primary caregiver, and the employer is not sure that transition has moved to a more equal position between both parents, or mom and another caregiver,” wrote Nissa, a 43-year-old who works in marketing and returned to the workforce when her son was in the second grade.

“Being able to navigate those expectations in an honest way that doesn’t leave you less likely for a promotion or career advancement would be amazing,” she added.

Another woman, who left her career in nursing and social work when her first child was 6 months old, wrote that she was frustrated to find the skills she’d cultivated as a stay-at-home parent weren’t valued in the workforce.

“I have been an active, engaged member of the community in volunteer roles, yet I feel like my resume would look better if I had had a failed business venture than just being president of the PTA, or a girl scout leader,” she wrote. “Although our society professes to value family, workplace policies and hiring practices appear to support this in name only.”

People who decide — or find it necessary — to stay in the workforce while raising young children face a different set of challenges. Sixty percent of Americans in the HuffPost/YouGov survey say being a working parent makes it harder to advance in a job or career.

There’s less of a consensus on whether gender makes it more difficult. A 54 percent majority of women say that working dads have it easier than working moms, but just 31 percent of men agree.

In the HuffPost/YouGov survey, 31 percent of parents who are currently working said allowing more flexible work hours would be the most useful policy to help working parents. Twenty-five percent said it’d be most helpful to be able to work from home, while 23 percent favored affordable daycare or after-school programs, and 17 percent wanted more paid time off.

Some companies are doing more to actively recruit women who’ve left the workforce: Investment banks and some tech companies are bringing in more experienced workers as interns, intending to hire them for full-time work.

And Après, which teamed up with HuffPost for the survey, is a platform designed to help parents get back into the workforce. The site features job listings targeted to women with “gap years” — from full-time work, to part-time, consulting gigs and maternity leave fill-ins — and also connects job hunters with career coaches.

 

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted March 8 through March 10 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls.You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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