The paternity paradox: fathers believe their professional progression slowed down after having a child

Seven-in-ten dads across Asia-Pacific say their career development took a dive once they became a parent

This Father’s Day, the full impact of paternity leave has come to the fore across AsiaPac. A new survey from Talking Talent, the global coaching consultancy leading the gender diversity agenda, has revealed that fathers are suffering from a ‘paternity paradox’, with half (50%) of fathers believing that taking extended leave has had a detrimental effect on their career. In fact, seven-in-ten (71%) dads in the Asia-Pacific region feel that their career progression slowed down after having a child. Because of this, more than half (54%) of fathers have taken shorter parental leave than they would have liked.

Talking Talent’s survey found that both mothers and fathers not only struggle with deciding how much time to have off, but also find parenthood difficult due to workplace demands. While the idea of taking paternity leave to look after a child is encouraged, some people are cautious because of professional pressures. After having returned to work, over two thirds (68%) feel these pressures now negatively impact their ability to be the parent they’d like to be, whilst three-in-five (57%) feel guilty that they don’t spend enough time with their children.

Human resources departments have a key role to play in employees coming back to work. Yet with only around half of AsiaPac parents (55%) saying their HR department or line manager was effective in helping with a smooth transition going into, and returning from, paternity leave, there’s still a long way to go. Fathers in particular feel conflicted about they prioritise their time, as they are expected to be the bread winners but also want to be involved with their new-born’s upbringing. But sometimes, even pointing an employee in the right direction for support can be hugely beneficial. More than half (51%) of the men surveyed said they would have valued receiving specialist coaching on managing the transition to becoming a working parent from someone outside their organisation.

“Our findings show that men are now facing a paternity paradox of wanting successful careers and being devoted fathers. They are experiencing the same difficulties that women have encountered for generations when it comes to balancing work and children. Going back to work after paternity leave shouldn’t – and doesn’t have to – make a new father feel like an outsider, or left behind. By offering effective parent coaching services, human resources departments can ensure both employees and the company are able to manage the transition back into the workplace smoothly,” comments Rachael Jay, Managing Director Asia, Talking Talent.

More information about the Talking Talent survey, the pressures working parents face and how HR departments can help them integrate back into the workplace can be found here.


Research methodology

Talking Talent surveyed 1,000 working parents in five countries (Australia, China, Hong Kong, India and Singapore) across Asia-Pacific (5,000 in total), born between 1956 and 2000.

About Talking Talent

Talking Talent is a niche, award-winning global coaching consultancy leading the gender diversity agenda. We work with clients to unlock the potential within their business and make company-wide behaviour shifts that accelerate business performance. For more than a decade, Talking Talent has worked with organisations on tailored coaching programmes that help them to retain talented individuals, increase their effectiveness and ensure that the benefit ripples throughout its business. Talking Talent has coached in the region of 19,000 women, working parents and line managers, and on average save over £150m a year across our clients in retention alone. Talking Talent’s best practice solution includes a fully blended digital coaching offer that is available globally, 24/7. Talking Talent Online extends the reach and duration of typical coaching programmes, offering more complete individual and organisational support through parental transitions.