Ninety-Percent of Workers with Children Under Age Six Require Flexible Work Measures to Balance Work and Life
TAIPEI, Nov. 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Chinese Taipei won the 2020 APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies (HWHE) Research Prize since its inauguration in 2019. Today, "government officials", corporate executives, academic scholars, and social enterprise activists came together to highlight the importance of work-life balance, which is the theme and winning category of this Chinese Taipei study. The timing of this press conference cannot be more fitting as this year marks the time point when Taiwan officially enters population decline with deaths outnumbering births, according to Seek and Find Co. Ltd.
Led by NTU Professor Lih-Rong Wang of the Department of Social Work, the research team joined force with Seek and Find social enterprise in completing this study titled "Work-Family Conflict, Social Support and Well-being: Chinese Taipei Unique Experiences." The study collected 727 effective surveys from professionals and workers in Taiwan, covering different industries and sectors, company sizes, positions, and both local firms and multi-national corporations. Participants were invited to anonymously share their background information, including that of their spouses and children.
"This study identified the 'unspoken conflicts' facing men in their work and family roles, clarifying that both men and women face similar dilemma in fulfilling both work and family responsibilities; there is no statistically significant difference based on gender," Professor Wang said. "Taiwanese society has not taken this issue seriously. We must strive to remove traditional gender biases and social stereotypes, and to act more pro-actively in planning and providing family-friendly policies and measures, so that both male and female workers can achieve a better balance between work and family responsibilities."
Another critical finding of this study indicated that over 90 percent of workers caring for children under the age of six expects more employee-centered flexible workplace support and programs. These policies and programs include (1) Flextime: Both employers and employees can negotiate a set of systematic flexible working hours that allow workers to balance work-family responsibilities; (2) (non-regular) Work-from-home: Employees can choose to work from home when family care emergencies occur; (3) Flexible work schedule: Employees can decide on flexible work schedules to avoid rush hours and have more time to handle family demands.
"Work-family conflicts have been a systematic problem for the entire society for decades. It takes the determination from stakeholders across sectors and disciplines to achieve a solid breakthrough," said Ms. Yulin Tsai, Founder of Seek and Find Co. In leading the Seek and Find social enterprise to advocate flexible work arrangements, Ms. Tsai believes that this Prize marks the beginning of a new phase for Taiwan in gender equality and work-family balance. Next-stage studies by specific industries, sizes of company and work patterns are required to further develop practical and relevant work-family balance measures and programs.
"Former Premier" Mao Chi-Kuo of the "Executive Yuan" attended the press conference to congratulate the success of this social enterprise-academic partnership that leads to solutions to address the society's demographic and structural changes.
"APEC established this Research Prize to bring people's attention to the five following areas that improve women's health: workplace health and safety; health access and awareness; work-life balance; sexual and reproductive health; and gender-based violence," explained "Director-General" Wu Hsiu-chen of the "Department of Gender Equality, Executive Yuan". Sex-disaggregated data and gender-based research and analysis serve as an empirical basis to help decision-makers and business owners make policies that can improve women's health so that women can join and rise in the workforce.
"The Ministry of Labor's Deputy Minister" Lin San-Quei described the gender equality in employment policies and measures that the "MOL" has spearheaded. The Act of Gender Equality in Employment encourages companies to implement a wide range of workplace gender equality measures, including providing nursing rooms, childcare facilities and measures, and support for workers to better achieve work-life balance. Many companies even provide many family-friendly measures that are more progressive than what the Act requires. By winning this APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Research Prize, it shows that Chinese Taipei has made advancements in the area of workplace work-life balance. More labor policy planning, gender equality promotion, and international cooperation should be conducted in this area to achieve more substantial outcomes.
Ms. BoonHuey Ee, General Manager of Merck Healthcare Taiwan, Hong Kong & Macau, gave her remarks at the press conference. Merck KGaA is the private partner of the APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies (HWHE) Initiative. It strives to build Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in its corporate cultures and advocates for the importance of women's health on sustainable economic development. It holds deep commitment for work-life balance by taking strong result-oriented actions, including inclusion culture cultivation, a mechanism of flexible working arrangements and employee healthcare program implementation. "We believe that the participation of a larger female workforce contributes to greater vigor and benefit to companies and industries," said Ms. Ee.
As a representative from an exemplary multi-national corporation, Ms. Tina Lin, General Manager of Google Taiwan, shared the firm's best practices. Google spares no efforts to build a working environment of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion. Under the pre-requisite of guarantee worker's health and wellbeing, Google applies digital technologies to lift limitations of geography, time and space. This is to nourish and activate a gender friendly workplace to create open and innovative corporate culture and to extend care and respect for all the employees.
Mrs. Tang Fu-Mei, Founder of Season Arts Kindergarten, spoke on behalf of the SMEs in Taiwan. As a mother of a child with special needs and an entrepreneur, she shared how she realized her dream. She calls for more social support for families, especially parents with special need children. Season Arts integrates arts and aesthetics education into their curriculum, and incorporates Makers education to teach students about hands-on problem-solving. The vision of Season Arts is to cultivate children into action takers that can change the world. The core foundation for Season Art's education is its talent development. Her organization is committed to helping female employees achieve work-family balance and self-realization.
The press conference also invited Mrs. Georgia Huang and Mr. Vincent Chen, top executives from multi-nationals based in Taiwan and across the straits, to share their personal stories in balancing professional careers and family responsibilities, including their experiences in marital relationship and parenting. Facing all kinds of pressing needs, including the needs to take care of their families, children, professional careers and self-expectations, the speakers shared their secrets to living a fulfilling, balanced life, including priority setting, time management, and legacy building.
About Professor Lih-Rong Wang
Professor Lih-Rong Wang serves at the Department of Social Work, National Taiwan University. She has devoted her academic career to the studies of women and work, women and care, and violence against women. In addition to research and teaching, she is also a long-term advocate for women' right and gender equality. She serves as a consultant for different government bodies and organizations.
Professor Wang served as a representative of Taiwan in many international conferences for women and gender, and UN-affiliated NGO meetings. She was also a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford, Kyoto University, and University of California, Los Angeles.
Professor Wang's greatest wish is to empower Taiwanese women in their personal lives, marriages, families and professional careers. Professor Wang calls for everyone to join the HeforShe movement and together realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Taiwan.
About Seek and Find Co. Ltd.
Founded in November 2016, Seek and Find Co. is a social enterprise dedicated to advocating for family-friendly workplaces so that everyone can fulfill their aspirations. Seek and Find is the first professional organization in Taiwan that champions the agenda of flexible working arrangement and talent matching with diverse values to deliver effective solutions. The services that we provide include talent matching, interim executives, and women career development.
The motivation behind our work is to help more women stay longer or return back to the workplace. Many of our programs, built on love and aspiration, have received wide recognition. In addition to this 2020 APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Research Prize, we also won the Social Enterprise Award by Global Views Monthly in May 2019 and the Prominent Enterprise Award by Taipei City Government in November 2020, for our contribution to friendly workplaces.