Part Time Promotion Career Cliff Research and Findings
There are various reasons you may find yourself in a ‘career cliff’ during your working life. I have seen it occur in many different situations:
- when a woman becomes pregnant or has a child
- when you start working part-time
- with a sudden redundancy or retrenchment
- personal health issue or caring responsibilities
- re-evaluation of life priorities
- change of profession
- change of industry
- change of location
- change of relationship status
- into or out of a business rather than a job
- into or out of a franchise or non-profit enterprise
- after a lengthy career in one profession or industry ie teaching, government
Personally, I remember being married in my 20’s and everyone assuming I would ‘run off and have babies.’ Alas, I stayed 11 years, I didn’t get pregnant until I left the job. My ‘argument’ was that at least women having children give nine month’s notice – whereas a male ‘could leave at any time.’
Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA)
In November 2023, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) released the results of their annual Employer Census of private sector companies with more than 100 employees.
Each year, the qualifying employers provide data to the WGEA and the latest report is showing:
- 21% of employees work part-time, only 7% of managers are employed part-time
- 5% of Key Management Personnel and 3% of CEOs work part-time
- 30% of women and 11% of men work part-time
- female-dominated industries employ the highest number of part-time managers
- women working part-time are proportionally more likely to be in a managerial role in a male-dominated industry
- 28% of women work on a casual basis
Their data from 2018 shows that:
- 19.5% of employees work part-time
- 32% of women and 11% of men work part-time
- 28% of women work on a casual basis
Some other interesting statistics for 2023 include:
- 22.8% is the current Gender Pay Gap
- 22.3% of CEO’s in Australia are women
- 82% of employers support flexible work
Compare this to 2018
- 20.8% Gender Pay Gap
- 17.1% of CEO’s in Australia are women
- 73% of employers support flexible work
So unfortunately, the Gender Pay Gap is increasing, despite more women being in CEO roles and more employers supporting flexible work.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics ABS data for October 2023 show that the total percentage of Australians working part time is 30.5% https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia/oct-2023
If we compare these results to October 2018, the total percentage of Australians working part time was 31.3%
So sadly, there is a decrease in part time work, despite the pandemic and the changes that prompted.
Anne Hathaway and Ageing Over 35
Anne Hathaway has been quoted as saying that her career would fall off a cliff at the age of 35. In this 13 November 2023 article on Porter, https://www.net-a-porter.com/en-au/porter/article-624926e64c1dc5dc she highlights a range of strategies that have worked to keep her ‘in work.’
- being prepared to do things ‘wrong’
- having a good time
- feeling like yourself
- asking if it is working with you
- being woven into someone’s life
- connecting with people
- bringing energy and joy
- honouring others
- separating a public persona from a personal life
- engage authentically but keep some parts of yourself back (be myself but not my whole self)
- being on a team (family) not just on own
- children have needs and need to define their own lives
- gratitude and service
- go easy on yourself and not overcomplicate things
- ‘keep it simple sweetheart’
- ‘move a muscle, change a thought’ from her mother to avoid negative thought patterns
- stay in the present
- be upfront about being ambitious
- keep having dreams – treat life as an ultramarathon
- worry less about what others think or what failure may await
- remain open and curious
- keep life exciting and keep pushing yourself
- remain open and sincere despite critics
- a sense of humour can be misunderstood
- be clear about what you say and trust the sincerity
- lead with sweetness (not spikes)
- centre yourself and be the best friend you ever had
Other Strategies For Securing A Part Time Promotion
- focus on deliverables not just working less than 38 hours per week
- keep updating your skills
- demonstrate how it can work
- consider job sharing
- streamline tasks
- report in regularly
- set up flexible systems
- ask your employer to complete a flexibility diagnostic assessment
Consequences Of Not Securing A Promotion
In the National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality – Discussion Paper in 2022, 96% of women usually or always look after children and this is ‘based on both ‘driven by social and economic structures that reflect and reinforce gendered care norms that frame women as primary caregivers.’
- 67 per cent of part-time workers are women and are nearly three times more likely to use a flexible working arrangements to manage caring responsibilities than their partners (80 per cent compared to 28 per cent)
- people who use flexible working arrangements are penalised and offered fewer opportunities for advancement, training or professional development
- flexible work polices can inadvertently reinforce gender gaps in the access and accumulation of skills, opportunities and experience
- women are underrepresented in leadership roles and overrepresented in casual, part time and fixed-term roles
- flexible roles are usually lower paid and insecure
- ‘occupational downgrading’ occurs when women choose roles below their skill levels and accept poorer conditions
- fathers can feel as if they are not supported to take on care roles
- female managers are twice as likely to return to work if their employer provides 13 or more weeks of paid parental leave
- companies with formal support policies for flexible work increased their share of part-time female managers by 7.5 percentage points
- women in Australia face a ‘motherhood penalty’, a significant financial setback due to both reduced working hours and time out of the workforce
- women’s earnings are reduced by an average of 55 per cent in the first five years of parenthood. This penalty continues through the first decade after childbirth
- men are rewarded and experience a “fatherhood premium” of approximately 7.3 per cent.
- research by the Grattan Institute using data from the 2017 HILDA Survey estimated that an average 25 year old woman with children will earn around $2 million less over her lifetime than an average 25 year old man with children, and nearly $1 million less than an average woman without children
Benefits Of Part Time Work If You Don’t Get A Promotion
- meet your lifestyle context needs
- allow you to focus on your priorities
- give you the opportunity to have two roles
- time to pursue your passions
- opportunity to introduce yourself to a new profession or industry
- prepare a strategy for a future promotion
Other Articles exploring this topic
Leadership? Not with a ‘part time promotion cliff’ still holding women back
How to get a promotion when you work part time
Part-time or casual work – the benefits and disadvantages
Five strategies of successful part time work
Whilst there has been a 4% rise in women CEO’s in Australia over the last five years, recent research suggests that workers who choose to work part time are falling off the ‘promotion cliff.’
Career Expert Sue Ellson is with us to discuss…
1. Sue, can you tell us what is happening here in Australia with this part time promotion cliff?
Yes. Research from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency from their annual Employer Census of private sector companies with more than 100 employees is showing us that 21% of employees work part-time and only 7% of managers are employed part-time and only 5% of Key Management Personnel and 3% of CEOs work part-time.
Interestingly, 30% of women work part time and only 11% of men work part-time which means that it affects more women’s careers than men’s careers…
2. Are there any specific reasons why more women work part time?
The National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality – Discussion Paper from 2022, shows that 96% of women usually or always look after children and this is driven by social and economic structures that frame women as primary caregivers.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency also shows that women are more likely to provide elder care as well – 12.3% for women compared to 9.3% for men.
Overall, part time roles are more likely to be lower paid and insecure and Grattan Institute research shows that an average 25 year old woman with children will earn around $2 million less over her lifetime than an average 25 year old man with children, and nearly $1 million less than an average woman without children.
3. That’s a significant loss of income for working part time. Do you have any suggestions on how to secure a promotion whilst working part time?
Yes, you need to be focused, forward and flexible.
+ focused on deliverables
+ forward on planning
+ flexible on strategy
You need to be focused on actual deliverables rather than hours worked, forward on planning as to what is realistic to achieve in less than 38 hours a week and flexible on the strategies you use on a daily basis.
Ideally, it is great if you can be authentic and aligned, but you also need to be assertive and make sure that you keep your skills and capabilities up to date and you keep your colleagues and managers informed along the way.
You need to let people know you are willing to consider a promotion and you need to courageous enough to ask for it as well.
4. But what if you can’t get a promotion and you are stuck working part time as a man or a woman?
+ make sure your skills are up to date
+ start some informational networking
+ ask for an aligned part time role
+ invite your employer to complete a WGEA flexibility diagnostic assessment
It is important to remember that whilst this is your current situation and it may have served you up until now, there is always a way to move forward and to do something different from now on.
You will need to make sure your skills are up to date and start networking with some informational questions to find out what options are available.
You could try shopping yourself in to a more senior part time role and suggest to your current employer that they complete a flexibility diagnostic assessment provided by the Workplace Gender Equality agency. That could help everyone in the organisation secure more flexible work.
5. What needs to be done to create more part time leadership roles in the future?
+ systemic change and flexibility
+ affirmative action % part time leadership roles
+ male and female champions
+ formal recognition awards
+ transparent priorities
In our last chat about the four day work week, we discussed the systemic change and flexibility that a four day work week would require and I see the steps being very similar for part time leadership roles.
An affirmative action policy that set some targets on the percentage of part time leadership roles as a percentage of all leadership roles could be useful.
It would be wonderful to have both male and female champions as advocates for these roles and it would be great to see formal recognition awards for part time leaders.
At the end of the day, for it to really work well, everyone needs to be transparent to ensure priorities and expectations are managed effectively because technology is changing all roles and in many industries, we are still facing a skills shortage and part time roles could potentially fill the gap.