Diversity and inclusion cannot exist if working parents are left out of the equation. This is one group of people that always seem forgotten, whether in office spaces or coworking spaces. They are easily overlooked when after work celebrations are arranged or when they need on-site childcare the most.
The stigma that new parents cannot be striving professionals has been a part of society for some time. With the right support structure, new parents can easily strive in their careers and still give the right amount of attention and support to their younglings.
Shazia Mustafa, founder of Third Door – a coworking space that boasts a flexible nursery – is passionate about ensuring that parents, and especially new parents, have an inclusive experience when making use of coworking spaces. She shares some insights on how to ensure an inclusive and diverse environment within coworking spaces for new parents.
The impact of having children
Research done by YouGov shows that the majority of careers impacted by having children, are those of women. More than half of women surveyed (51%) said that the main factor impacting their career is having to give up working either temporarily or permanently to look after their children at home. Only 13% of fathers interviewed shared the same sentiment.
The research also showed that both mothers (22%) and fathers (19%) feel that their workplace isn’t accommodating towards their needs at home. This shows that parents with children are often forgotten or discriminated towards without the other parties being aware of it.
It stunts career growth for both parties of the family, having responsibilities at home decreases the amount of hours they can spend at the office (mothers 60% and father 51%) to be able to fulfill their duties at home.
Support and benefits for coworking parents
Shazia wanted to create an environment where parents can leave their children during the day that was close to them, but also ensured that the people looking after their children had childcare backgrounds. She and her team wanted to offer parents peace of mind that their children were in good hands and that their education was being looked after.
Being a new parent herself she needed mental support and childcare support while working on her career. While she was working on herself, she also wanted her child to have the best possible future. That is how Third Door came to be, a coworking space with a flexible childcare nursery.
According to Shazia, having a nursery close to where parents work offers more support than just staying at home or sending the child to a nursery that is far. If the nursery is adjoined to the coworking space that the parent makes use of, it allows for quick check-ins, reduces the commute so that there is more time at the beginning or end of the day with their child . It also allows parents to work without worrying how their little one is doing, as they are always close by.
A major factor, Shazia points out, is that the environment needs to be accommodating to working fathers as well. There is no use in trying to be inclusive if the fathers are left out of the equation. The support structure offered to coworking parents need to keep both mothers and fathers in mind.
What coworking spaces can do to help
Coworking spaces should keep in mind that a majority of their members are or will become parents at some point of their lives. The best a coworking space can do, without building a creche on-site, is to always keep parents in mind and accommodate them.
A space should take a look at how they are catering for the different needs of different parents. Some are new parents with babies or toddlers, some have youngsters or teenagers. With different stages of the child’s life, comes different needs for the parent. From picking them up from school to taking them to after school activities.
Start at understanding and empathising with their different needs and see where accommodations can be made for them. This will be one step closer to becoming more inclusive and diverse towards working parents.
Another way to implement diversified and inclusivity within a coworking space, is to ensure support for same sex parents. This can be something small like ensuring a safe space where they can express themselves.
It is important that coworking spaces keep all types of parents in mind. Like single parents or those going through divorces, or struggling with difficult teenagers. Being a parent has its ups and downs, but having a secure and friendly space to work at, can make it a bit easier for parents to cope.
The IDEA handbook
Coworking spaces have many things to consider when starting out, and making sure that a space is Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable, and Accessible (IDEA) can be a daunting task.
For this reason we are working on creating a handbook that will guide coworking spaces through the whole process. This handbook will guide any coworking space through the process at their own pace, and it can help to connect to the community.
Sign up for updates on the IDEA handbook, and be sure to follow us on our social media pages to stay updated.