25 January, 2020

Inclusive language key to overcoming parental leave stigma

Inclusive language key to overcoming parental leave stigma

The third event for the Queensland Chapter of Women in Drinks focussed on a topic that affects both genders at all levels in the drinks industry: parental leave. 

There's a growing awareness of the commercial value in offering competitive parental leave entitlements for both sexes. Businesses that support stable and healthy families are more likely to retain highly skilled employees, which in turn benefits their bottom line.

Held at the XXXX Brewery in Brisbane, Lion's Inclusion and Diversity leader Jodie Littlewood interviewed Parents at Work CEO Emma Walsh on overcoming stigmas and stereotypes associated with parental leave.

Guests at the event enjoyed canapes at the Alehouse while the Women in Drinks team held an open discussion on the issues surrounding parental leave.

Littlewood has spent 14 years in human resources and the last three years as the corporate Inclusion & Diversity Leader at Lion. She is a champion of gender equality in the workplace, and instrumental in delivering many key business strategies including flexibility programs and 50:50 gender targets. As a change leader, Littlewood partners with businesses and teams to engage and empower them through the why, what and how of the Inclusion and Diversity journey. 

Walsh is the Founder and CEO of Parents At Work – a social enterprise established in 2007 to improve the lives of parents and carers by creating family friendly workplaces. Walsh collaborates with employers, policy makers and industry professionals to improve gender equality outcomes at work and at home by mainstreaming flexibility and parental leave for men and women. Her career has spanned more than 15 years, with specialties including leadership development, and career development and coaching.

It was enlightening to those in the room who hadn't previously considered the many challenges associated with parental leave. Littlewood and Walsh shared personal stories around their own experiences with parental leave and encouraged audience members to do the same.

Littlewood provided eye-opening information on Australia’s parental leave scheme in comparison to other OECD nations, while Walsh highlighted how important it is to develop an inclusive language – in policies, as well as during everyday conversations.

"Best practice gender inclusive organisations champion parental leave equality by offering equal benefits to women and men and encourage a shared approach to parental leave," Walsh noted. "There is less focus on primary and secondary classification of parental leave, and instead, the policy specifically states that both mothers and fathers can access equal parental leave entitlements and can do so flexibly over a period of years rather than consecutively, within a limit of one year by only a ‘primary carer’.

"If organisations introduced a shared parental leave scheme, and specifically communicate that equal benefits exist for both men and women to take leave - on a level playing field – then we can break down stereotypes of only women – primary carers take leave – and parental leave becomes an inclusive right that both mothers and fathers can share and participate in."

The event was introduced by the XXXX Head Brewer Donovan Sparks and was organised by the Queensland Chapter Committee, Sam Bradford, Jo Harding, Dianne Webb, Jen Richardson and Dyani Dias.

Thank you to the committee for organising another successful event and we look forward to the next one! 

Pictured main: Jodie Littlewood and Emma Walsh

Here are some photographs from the night: