Astrid Dyson, co-founder of the Norwegian company dyson.drager, reacted with irritation when she read Celine Marie Moe`s experience with Manpower. But she also saw an opportunity to talk about the uneven distribution of absence days between employees with children and those without. In the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, she wrote an article on her views on the topic of facilitating the voluntary and involuntary childless in the work life.
As one of two founders in her company, Dyson is the one without children, whereas her co-founder has two children. She recalls several times throughout her career when someone gets up in the middle of the meeting and says “I have to go, I have to pick up the kids in kindergarten” or “I gotta get home to the kids, I have to see them before they go to bed” just before the end of the meeting, or “I have to stay at home today, it`s a planning day in kindergarten.” This accumulates to a lot of absence days.
Norwegian companies are required by law to facilitate for employees with kids. Dyson, however, points to the uneven distribution of absence days. How can companies facilitate childless employees? She describes the topic of kindergarten as the elephant in the room. It`s seen as a right in Norway to be able to pick up the kids from kindergarten. However, people without children are the ones who have to stay in the meeting and stay longer in the office.
Dyson believes it is time to discuss working hours, kindergarten drop-off and pick-up without being called a chauvinist, anti-feminist or discriminatory.
The technology of today gives more people the possibility of more flexible working hours. For Dyson and her co-founder, they have the possibility to catch up on work in the evenings. Dyson believes that if more employers opens up to a more flexible work schedule, this could help parents where they could even get more time with their children. Furthermore, she calls for kindergartens to evaluate their opening hours and holidays.
Combined with an increase of childless people in the population, the inequality between the people with children and the people without is growing. Dyson believes that by allowing recruitment agencies to ask more questions, there will be fewer surprises in how work is conducted and an employers expectations.
Dyson believes that the absence of this topic in job interviews makes it harder to challenge the problem of why there aren’t more women in leader positions. Knowledge about the division of labor on the home front gives an employer a better picture of how you as an employee will fit into their work culture, regardless of gender.
Dyson hopes that if she ever decides to have children, the topic of the 6-hour-working-day is hotter than now, as well as recruiters or employers being allowed to clarify expectations with potential employees in terms or working hours, children and kindergarten pick-ups and drop-offs.