The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 (March 8) is #BreaktheBias.
This year’s worldwide campaign challenges citizens to:
Imagine a gender equal world.
A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
A world where difference is valued and celebrated.
Together we can forge women’s equality.
Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.
At Jobfind’s ParentsNext program, our consultants are breaking the bias every day, supporting women—96 percent of participants are women—overcome barriers to engaging with work or further education.
ParentsNext is an Australian Government initiative to help parents and carers who receive Parenting Payment to plan and prepare for work by the time their youngest child starts school. Many women in the program, through choice or circumstance, have been out of the workforce for extended periods.
ParentsNext Manager, Laura Wojcinski, supports many mothers to develop skills and prepare to enter the labour market—3 out of 4 program participants are sole parents.
“They often have to give up their careers to take on the entire responsibility of raising children when there aren’t affordable childcare options in place or family support networks available to them,” explains Laura.
Women in the workforce is a priority
The Australian Government has committed to boosting women’s workforce participation by 2025, identifying it as an economic priority.
Laura and her team of consultants see the impact of women being absent from the workforce, first-hand.
“It unfairly reduces their earning potential compared to their partnered counterparts and impacts their retirement as they are not contributing to their superannuation fund during those years. With most of the parents impacted by this being women, it’s hard not to acknowledge the sacrifice so many women make, with only their children in mind,” says Laura.
Beyond the individual level, when women participate in employment, families and communities benefit as women invest their earnings in health care, education and move off income support.
“If more women were more easily welcomed into the workforce, it could break the cycle of intergenerational unemployment and welfare dependency,” says Laura.
Hussainah Bah, Jobfind ParentsNext consultant in Melbourne, says: “Women should feel empowered to fulfil their potential and contribute to society without the fear that they have additional barriers to overcome in the workforce. For single women with children, the ability to work is critical for them to be able to provide for their children. We know that socioeconomic factors make a difference and being able to provide a better quality of life to children can significantly impact their future.”
What’s more, businesses do better. We know that gender diversity at all levels—board, executive and team levels—means better financial performance.
Source: Game changers: Economic reform priorities for Australia, Grattan Institute 2012, viewed in womensworkforceparticipation.pmc.gov.au
Individuals break the bias
At ParentsNext, breaking the bias starts with the individual. “We treat all of our of participants as unique individuals. Sometimes they need to break out of the often narrow view they have for themselves and their options,” says Laura.
It’s a practice that our consultants model and nurture themselves.
Hussainah says: “Personally, break the bias means reflecting internally on my own unconscious biases first then actively addressing them and having courageous conversations with friends, family and work colleagues. Normalising conversations around unconscious biases and pulling them to the surface is important to better understand and addresses these biases in our culture, conversations, in our policies and wider society.”
One of our participants, Kylie was a participant of the Jobfind Camberwell ParentsNext program, had no vocational qualifications and had a limited view of her job options. She worked closely with her employment consultant, Nina D’Angelo, to explore her study and career choices.
After discovering Kylie’s passion for fitness, Nina encouraged Kylie to build her confidence to study and gain work experience to become a fitness trainer, something Kylie had not considered before.
Now Kylie is thriving in a career she’s passionate about.
Hear Nina and Kylie’s story below:
Employers break the bias
More employers are making flexible work practices a part of the workplace for the benefit of everyone. Even pre-pandemic, employers were enjoying the benefits enabled by flexible workplaces: attracting a bigger pool of talent, increasing gender diversity, and removing geographical barriers to workforce participation.
The traditional 9-5 workday has closed off many job opportunities to women combining work and families. That’s not surprising, given that on average, women spend 64 percent of their average weekly working time on unpaid care work compared to 36 percent for men (WGEA, Unpaid care work and the labour market insight paper). Increasingly flexible workplaces are expected to generate more choice and opportunity for parents to work or work more.
Laura says:“As more women enter the labour market, current work environments and structures are challenged. Flexible work practices give more single mothers more opportunities to work.”
Jobfind ParentsNext program is offered in metropolitan Melbourne from offices in Richmond, Melbourne CBD, Camberwell, Cheltenham and Box Hill. To enquire about the program, please email email@example.com