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Women seek better benefits to help achieve work-life balance

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More than half of Canadian women believe they have not achieved the right work/life balance. And fewer than one-third say their families provide enough support to help them succeed at their careers.

BMO Financial Group discloses this finding in its 3rd annual International Women’s Day study. The survey was conducted by Pollara with an online sample of 1,002 Canadians 18 years of age and over, between February 20th and 23rd, 2015.

The study finds that only 47 percent are properly balancing responsibilities at work with their personal lives. On a positive note, nearly 7 in 10 (68 percent) say their employers are taking steps to ensure they can effectively manage their responsibilities at work and at home.

When asked what their families could be doing better or more of, women identify the following:

  • Be more helpful around the house (24 percent)

  • Be more understanding of their work schedule (15 percent)

  • Take on more child care responsibilities (9 percent)

In terms of what employers can do to help women balance their lives more effectively, women identify:

  • Better benefits (27 percent)

  • Flexible time (24 percent)

  • Sick/family emergency days (21 percent) and vacation time (18 percent)

“Over the last sixty years, women have been entering the workforce in greater numbers. However the reality is that they still generally take on the lion’s share of household responsibilities, whether it is acting as primary caregiver for the children, doing housework or generally playing the role of chief operating officer of the family,” says Julie Barker-Merz, President, BMO InvestorLine and Head of BMO’s Women in Wealth Committee. “Our study clearly indicates that many women are struggling with balancing their home and work lives and are seeking the active support of their spouses, children and employers in helping them do so.”

The study also finds that 63 percent of Canadian women feel that staying with one employer over the long term (and being promoted from within) is preferable to switching employers as a way to further their careers. This may be because 74 percent of women (and 52 percent of men) report that it is more challenging for women to prove themselves to a new employer than it is for men.

The top challenges women identify when starting with a new employer include:

  • Establishing a comfortable work/life balance (78 percent)

  • Perceptions regarding family obligations and/or maternity leave (72 percent)

“Women need to be empowered to seek out new career opportunities if they choose to do so and not feel that they face barriers because of their gender,” says Sandra Henderson, senior vice president, personal & commercial banking, BMO Bank of Montreal and Member of the BMO Women and Wealth Committee.

“While it’s possible to have a successful ‘one employer’ career, the reality of the modern employment landscape is that it’s often necessary to make moves to get promoted and secure more compensation.”

When asked about what would prompt them to change employers, the top reasons women report include:

  • Poor management/bad boss (57 percent)

  • Insufficient compensation (54 percent)

  • Poor work/life balance (42 percent)