THE BLOG

How Fair Is Your Home?

09/03/2016 10:51 | Updated 09 March 2017

How fair is your home? By fair I mean, does one person do the majority of household chores - the cooking, the cleaning, the washing up, the bin-emptying, the picking up of dirty socks, the toilet cleaning and the weekly shop?

It might not be a question that's ever occurred to you, especially if you're not the one that shoulders the burden, but whilst we're all focused on equality in leadership positions or the gender pay gap (both hugely important issues), we may be losing sight of a root cause of the problem.

On average women spend 117 minutes more each day than men on household chores. This is despite the fact that today women also make up 47% of the workforce.

Our concern should be around the message this is sending to our kids. We recently asked 1000 adults and 1000 5-10 year olds about attitudes to housework in their homes, to unpick exactly what the division of chores looks like, and how this might be influencing children's views.

Only two in 10 children said that housework was split evenly in their home, and 60% said their mum does more housework than their dad. More than 60% of the children surveyed said their parents argue about the housework.

And of course, when it comes to chores in the home, it's quite simply work you don't get paid for, so if you take the stat above, that equates women doing 711 hours or 17 weeks of unpaid labour per year - often on top of their day-jobs.

Melinda Gates recently highlighted the issue of 'unpaid work' as one of the top priorities for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for 2016, saying that "Unless things change, girls today will spend hundreds of thousands more hours than boys doing unpaid work simply because society assumes it's their responsibility."

Gates offers examples from her personal life, painting a picture where no-one leaves the kitchen until 'mom' does, or where Bill Gates, in the midst of running Microsoft, dutifully did the school run each day.

I understand every household is different. We're certainly not all Bill and Melinda Gates and there is no 'normal'. My husband is mildly OCD (he's both an art director and a copy writer), whereas I have a very high tolerance for mess (you only have to see my desk at work to realise this).  So he actually bears the brunt of household chores in our house in a vain attempt to keep everything immaculate.

Having said that, I organise all my daughters clothes, playdates, school stuff, endless costumes for world book day, her extra curricular classes, doctors appointments and the list goes on.  So, I guess it evens itself out over time.  

But ours is still a very unusual household.  My husband once answered one of those telephone surveys and when he was asked who was the main breadwinner he said that I was (I earn a little more than he does) and the woman asking the questions nearly fell off her chair and said that was the first time she'd had that answer from someone in our socio economic bracket.  I still find that hard to believe.  But the truth is that women do far more housework and less paid work.

Isn't it time that advertising started to question, rather than reinforce that stereotype? As a mother and the CEO of a creative agency, I believe that must be part of my job.

Within the last week, the issue has gathered more attention, with a campaign by Ariel that asked families to 'share the load' and this week, one of the UK's most iconic household brands, Fairy, released a film to ask the question directly, 'How Fair is Your Home?'

It's time to make it clear in every home that fair is the new normal. For every home that will be different, but it shouldn't be the case that one person does a disproportionate amount of 'unpaid labour' anymore. We need to have this conversation now so by the time our children grow up, everything is equal.