About Laura Laura is a PhD candidate in the Music Education program at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. Her Doctoral research, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, focuses on the ways in which involuntarily childless women experience community and…
During recent years, increasing numbers of organisations have started to realise the importance of promoting equality, diversity and inclusion within the workplace. The global COVID-19 pandemic, and incidents of racial injustice, have heightened unconscious bias and the need for inclusivity amongst those whose voices have traditionally been marginalised.
The issues that parents face at work in terms of bias has been well-documented. What may be less well recognised are the issues surrounding childlessness. Childlessness could be considered an “invisible” aspect of inclusivity. Childless women may make up to twenty percent of women employees - the figures for men are less certain, and women without children have been found to work the longest hours of any group. Although the work-life interface is interpreted differently within organisations, if initiatives around it exclude their growing childless employee base, the initiatives will be less effective and may render a feeling of injustice with counter-productive effects.
In addition, some of these employees may be struggling with fertility issues, may have experienced pregnancy loss, or may be permanently childlessness not by choice or by circumstance, all of which need to be handled sensitively, and with awareness. Childless employees may feel excluded and isolated at work if the predominant narrative is one of families and children.
Childlessness is a hidden identity which may be one of the many characteristics, both visible and invisible, which can affect an individual's daily life. I had the privilege of speaking at a Gateway Women Masterclass on the intersectionality of race and childlessness, and the issues of belonging it can raise. The recording of the webinar 'Where is my home'? can be found below.