Australian Anthill Magazine
Dec 2008/Jan 2009
Given the abundance of warm weather, beautiful beaches and our general predisposition to having a good time, Australia’s conditions should be conducive to having plenty of babies. Yet, in spite of this, Aussie sheilas are bringing fewer bundles of joy into our wide, brown land than ever.
For a country to sustain its population, it needs a birth rate of around 2.1 children per woman. Australia’s current birth rate is 1.7 children per woman. This statistic should worry every Australian, as the fewer babies brought into the world and ultimately into the workforce, the greater the tax burden placed on the rest of us as baby boomers continue to retire and/or get hip replacements.
But as sexy as politicians are, it seems they’re just not ‘inspiring’ today’s women to pop one out. It appears that for today’s business-savvy ladies, the cost analysis decision made between having a career and having a baby is more often made in favour of the career.
Pollies have touted a range of options to encourage women to have more babies, but few of these provide incentive to the very women having the least number of children: professional women. These women aren’t simply going to put down the BlackBerry in exchange for a $5,000 Baby Bonus that will hardly cover the cost of a Bugaboo Stroller.
The truly effective response will come not just from governments but also from businesses large and small, in consultation with their female employees. Businesses need to be flexible enough to allow women to look out from the nursery room window while at the same time chipping away at the corporate “glass ceiling”. Family-friendly work practices are good for businesses, too, as a company’s experienced employees can be retained in the labour force even while in labour.
So how baby-friendly is your business?
Felicity McMahon is a graduate of the University of Technology, Sydney, and now works in a London-based law firm. Jayde Lovell works as a political advisor in Indonesia. Need to vent? Have your say… [email protected]