Childlessness, not by choice, is different to being childfree, which, like becoming a parent, is a life choice. It affects one in five females, significant numbers of males, trans and non-binary people, as well as those close to the individuals affected.
Supporting our childless colleagues in the workplace is very much a part of Equality and Diversity, and often overlooked. You may be aware that one or more of your colleagues does not have children so consider the reasons why this may be the case. Here are a few ways to support fellow staff who are childless, not by choice.
In the Workplace
Consider where you are when talking about a pregnancy or relating anecdotes about children. Childless people are happy to remove themselves from the conversation if they are in a rest room. This may be more difficult if they work nearby or in large open plan offices.
Where one or more is used to display baby photos, choose areas which are not main thoroughfares. Work can often be a sanctuary away from being reminded about being childless. So an inappropriately placed notice board of images remind childless people every time they pass.
Flexible Working Policy
It is a misconception that flexible working is only available for staff with childcare or other caring responsibilities. The University Flexible Working Policy applies to all staff, regardless of length of service, grade, or personal circumstances. The University recognise that a good work:life balance is important for everybody. Find more details here.
Whether you’re childless due to infertility or circumstance, the University of Bristol Childless Staff Network is here as a supportive, friendly, and compassionate community. Join a group of staff who “get” what it’s like to be a childless person in a workplace environment and who would like to share experiences, access a support network and / or raise awareness of childlessness at work.
Support Networks Outside of the University
World Childless Week - September 16-21
Founded by Stephanie Phillips – “Being childless not by choice is the taboo subject of an unrecognised minority. World Childless Week is there to raise awareness, find support, build friendships and to find the confidence to speak out and celebrate their uniqueness. The gap that exists between parents and the childless community needs to be bridged and our grief needs to be recognised and respected”
Gateway Women Online Community
Online forum for women who are involuntarily childless – for any reason at all.
Bristol/Bath Gateway women meet up group - www.meetup.com- A friendly group for Childless women who meet up once a month to have a chat with friends who “get it”. Bristol meet up on the 1st Saturday of the month and 3rd Thursday
Living the Life Unexpected
12 weeks to your plan B for a meaningful and fulfilling future without children by Jody Day
Men who wanted to be a dad
Robin Hadley recently completed a phD where he explored the experience of involuntary childless older men. You can read more about his research at www.robinhadley.co.uk
Everybody has a different story – here’s the testimony of one University of Bristol Staff Member: