Working fathers are breaking free from tired clichés of lazy dads who see their role as taking the kids off their partner’s hands for a few hours on a Sunday. Today, dads are more involved in day-to-day parenting than ever before.
Unfortunately, the work-place hasn’t caught up yet. Talking Talent’s recent research highlights the fact that across the globe men now face a paternity paradox; wanting to be devoted fathers and have successful careers but experiencing the same difficulties that women have encountered for generations when it comes to balancing work and children. In fact, 66% of working fathers (US) and 70% of working fathers (UK) felt guilty about not spending enough time with their children.
If men and women take equal time out of the work-place, equal pay and opportunity will follow (or so the logic goes). In the UK, Shared Parental Leave attempts to create such equality, but the statistics tell another story: Half (51%) of respondents thought that fathers who took Shared Parental Leave would experience a detrimental effect on their careers; 53% feared judgement if they chose it. In the US, 63% of men believe that taking an extended parental leave would be detrimental to their career. Is it any surprise then that even with Shared Parental Leave available, 51% of men in the UK wouldn’t want to take it?
Data from the Equality and Human Rights Commission shows that as many as 54,000 mothers per year feel they have to quit their jobs while pregnant. Clearly, employers have to improve support for working fathers to achieve true gender equality. According to DaddiLife’s recent UK research on the Millennial Dad at Work: 45% of working fathers regularly experience tension with their employer when trying to balance work and family. Of course, attitudes at the top inform corporate culture; 39% of men in the UK also regularly experience tension with their colleagues. In the US, 72% of men said that they would have taken a longer parental leave if they had seen coworkers do so.
Now, employees are voting with their feet; one-third of new dads have changed jobs since becoming a father with another third actively looking to change. Almost half say that improving paternity leave is vital and even more (59%) want employers to provide more flexible working.
The savviest organisations are recognising the changing demands of their employees and rolling out enhanced parental leave. Recently, Goldman Sachs announced that all US employees, regardless of gender, would get twenty weeks of fully paid leave. Companies like Standard Life Aberdeen are also demonstrating sensitivity to concerns which might have previously prevented men from taking the leave available, like losing momentum; now, employees can take nine months of full-paid leave in three tranches.
As more men demand full parental leave, more companies will change their policies. Now, more than ever, we need to elevate best practice for dads at work; our global video series will showcase real stories of working dads making progress. We partnered with Daddilife to bring together a group of dads working in the Financial sector; shining a light on their lives as fathers, and giving insight into what best practice can and should look like.
Take, for example, Krishna Nadella, a nine-year employee at Bloomberg, trader, senior manager and father of three. Krishna has turned the stereotypical image of a city trader on its head, taking five months of parental leave when his third child was born. Since becoming a father, Krishna still has the same career ambitions, but recognises that the path to achieving his goals may be different. Like many working fathers, Krishna is conscious of where his way of fathering diverges from traditional expectations, and aware of the legacy he wants to leave.
When Krishna took full paternity leave he saw an aspect of his family he didn’t know existed. Both parents, he says, need time in order to see the world primarily as a parent. Now, he’d like to be able to drop his kids at school, to say a few encouraging words, and to help his wife with the physical demands of childcare. Krishna believes that the key is for employers to recognise that no one parent is the primary-care giver. To facilitate working dads, employers have to recognise that both parents need the same time off to bond with their child and to develop their family relationships and structure. The real test of Krishna’s success as a father will be what his children say when asked, What was daddy like? To Krishna, He was there for me as and when his career allowed isn’t good enough. He hopes instead that his children will know he was there to offer support, but also there back-stage, doing the work of being there, even when they didn’t know.
Earlier this month, the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) urged UK and European exchanges to cut trading hours to improve traders’ work-life balance. Already, the London Stock Exchange has committed to launching a consultation on this request. Han-Son Lee, Founder of Daddilife takes great joy in the seismic shift he has witnessed in working fathers; ‘Our hope in partnering with Talking Talent in this global series has been to show that if fathers in this most competitive of industries can make modern day fatherhood work, that it should serve as a call to action for other similar industries who in some cases have not paid enough attention to the needs of this emerging group’. Finance is notorious as one of the most demanding sectors in the world and in focusing on it and other industries, our content series will provide real life examples of how dads are making it work and how their commitment to doing so has positively impacted their work environments.
Click here to view Krishna's video.