Who’s the fairest of them all?

A new research study commissioned by the Fatherhood Institute, a think-tank, has compared and ranked 21 countries in a new fairness in families index.

The ranking is based on data drawn from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and verified by an international panel. Factors taken into account include the proportion of women in management, how many men work part time, paternity leave and the gap in median earnings between men and women. More subjective indicators such as the time spent by men in caring for their children or doing housework were also factored in.

Sweden heads the table. The country offers men 40 weeks’ full-time equivalent paternity leave compared with the UK’s two-day equivalent. In Belgium, the gap in median earnings between men and women is just 9.3 per cent, says the report, compared with the UK’s 21 per cent.

The UK comes fourth from the bottom of the list. Only Japan, Austria and Switzerland are characterised as less “family-friendly”. According to Rob Williams, chief executive of the Fatherhood Institute:

“The fairness in families index gives a benchmark for where Britain stands in terms of how far policies allow families to share parenting and be more ‘equal’.”

The report is published just as the Cranfield University School of Management’s Female FTSE board report stirs media debate on factors preventing more women reaching the top in quoted companies. Clearly for many women one factor is the degree of support they have from spouses in managing home and children as they build their careers.

A Conservative election pledge was to make Britain “the most family-friendly country in Europe”.

Whether the coalition government does this by extending paternity leave, closing the gap in earnings between men and women or instituting more flexible working practices, moves to make the UK more family-friendly are likely to benefit women’s participation in management - and help men become more involved in bringing up the kids.

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.
 

The 'Women at the Top' blog is part of a series of online and print publications that focuses on women's achievements in business. With up-to-date news and incisive analysis, the blog will provoke discussion on the role of the world's most prominent businesswomen. www.ft.com/womenblog

For more Women at the Top news, video interviews and other features, visit www.ft.com/womenatthetop

VIDEOS

About our bloggers

Liz Bolshaw

Liz Bolshaw is a business journalist and editor. She has been a successful book publisher, online editor, magazine editor and publisher.

She was launch editor of the Europe-wide online community Entrepreneur Country, has published magazines for PwC, 3i, dunhill and Bafta, and launched The Sharp Edge, a magazine for and about entrepreneurs, with Duncan Bannatyne. She is a regular contributor to Thomson Reuters’ Venture Capital Journal.

Her last project for the Financial Times was as editor of the paper’s Business Education magazine.

Rebecca Knight

Rebecca Knight is a freelance journalist based in Boston. She writes regularly for the FT on business education, entrepreneurship, and management.

Andrew Hill

Andrew Hill is an associate editor and the management editor of the FT. He was City editor of the FT and editor of the daily Lombard column on British business and finance from September 2006 to December 2010.

He was the FT’s financial editor from June 2005 to September 2006, with overall responsibility for coverage of companies and markets. Before becoming financial editor, he was the FT’s comment & analysis editor, in charge of the paper’s opinion and features pages.

From 1999 to 2003, he was the FT’s New York bureau chief. He joined the FT in 1988 and has also worked as foreign news editor, UK companies reporter and correspondent in Brussels and Milan.

Pino Bethencourt

Pino Bethencourt is a professor and leadership expert at IE Business School in Madrid. She is also an author and executive coach.

Lynda Gratton

Lynda Gratton is professor of management practice at London Business School.

Linda Tarr-Whelan

Linda Tarr-Whelan, former ambassador to the UN commission on the status of women, is a Demos distinguished senior fellow.