Lightening the Mental Load

Companies can promote inclusion by helping women lessen their burdens at home.

Few would be surprised to hear that women bear the brunt of housework. New research explains why companies should care and what they can do about it.

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) surveyed more than 6,500 employees across different industries in 14 countries and found that even though one-third of couples in two-career households said both parties contribute to household chores, women are more likely to carry the mental load of organizing and managing what needs to be done at home.

Women are:
• 2.5 times more likely to be responsible for managing the laundry
• 2.1 times more likely to be responsible for planning meals
• 2 times more likely to manage the house-cleaning process
• 0.8 times more likely to manage the household finances

That increased mental load can hinder women who are working to climb the corporate ranks, as they have less mental energy to focus on the tasks that come with a leadership role. As a result, companies must help ease the load if they want to ensure that women are represented in the C-suite, BCG says. Here’s how they suggest companies do it.
Offer flexible work arrangements. Let men and women work remotely, use videoconferencing, or set their own hours to better handle personal tasks.

Highlight couples who are truly balancing the load. Use a company newsletter or intranet to publicize stories of male employees managing household duties and shouldering a fair share of the mental load—to inspire other male employees to do the same.
Support parents. Offer on-site day care, elder-care support, and babysitting referral services. A parents’ network for employees can also help lighten the mental load.

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