Daddy On Board: Working Dads Influence Culture For Working Moms
Not every working father has a hint of the glamorous life of new dad George Clooney.He welcomed his twins Ella And Alexander recently when his wife, Amal (an international human rights lawyer), gave birth to the pair. This weekend will be his first Father’s Day as a father.
But the role all fathers play in the workplace and the culture of an organization’s policies concerning parenting affect all parents. The context of paid family leave is also critical to how women leaders maneuver the workplace. And research shows that working dads are just as conflicted as working moms about the role family plays in their work.
A paid parental leave is included in the new proposed federal budget, and with “a cost of $20 billion over 10 years, the plan provides six weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child,” according to Aparna Mathur and Isabel Sawhill writing in Time.
“While it seems unlikely that the proposal would be adopted in its current form, it is nevertheless a useful first step for the only advanced country without a paid family and medical leave policy,” they write.
“It is no wonder then that polls show overwhelming public support for paid family and medical leave, with almost 71 percent of Republicans and 83 percent of Democrats in favor of a paid parental leave policy. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act, passed in 1993, offers 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave, but only about 60 percent of the workforce is eligible for its protections,” Mathur and Sawhill write.
Karen Michael writes in Richmond Business, that even before the possible passage of a paid family leave, there are hidden challenges for fathers in the workplace. Women leaders can be cognizant of these issues and work to create alliances with working fathers and mothers.
“While attitudes about men and women providing childcare support are changing, I frequently hear that men feel they cannot leave work to care for a child because of stereotypes. If women are entitled to any benefits at work related to child care or caregiving, men must receive the same benefit,” Michael writes.
An Australian study recently examined the role of 3,000 fathers and their children ages 10-13 through a different perspective.
Sean Parnell writes in The Australian, “Researchers from the Australian National University, the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Berlin Social Science Centre recently sought to see fathers, particularly working dads, through the eyes of their children.”
Parnell writes, “ Researchers asked children whether their father spent enough time with them and found 63 per cent said ‘about right,’ 27 per cent said ‘not quite enough,’ 7 per cent said ‘nowhere near enough.’”
Fathers might agree.
“A recent study by the charity, Working Families, reveals that nearly half of working fathers would like a less stressful job so they can spend more time caring for their children, with a third willing to take a pay cut to achieve a better work-life balance,” John Smith writes in Personnel Today.
“Many forward-thinking employers now provide packages to encourage the attraction and retention of female employees, the canny employer may also want to review their working practices and policies with an eye to attracting and retaining working fathers,” Smith writes.
While parity may not have been achieved in leadership in this country, the good news is there appears to be a closing of the parenting gap at work for both working moms and dads.
“In most families, mothers and fathers both work hard. Pew Research recently reported that moms and dads in the U.S. work essentially equal hours when paid work hours are combined with household chores and child care hours, “ Kevin Shafer writes in CNN.
“Pew also reports that fathers are putting more time into their families than ever before. Yet, many social scientists argue that subtle forms of parenting inequality endure. Some scholars and commentators argue that this inequality results from a patriarchal gender ideology: a power dynamic that affects how parents socialize their children and what roles men and women take on in families,” Shafer writes.
“Research has shown that generous family leave policies positively impact family health, parents’ well-being and gender equity in the workplace. Yet, these benefits may not be enough. For example, many men do not use leave or flextime if they believe it will damage their careers or reputation,” Shafer writes.
In his research at Brigham Young University that “focuses on workplace culture and its significance for fathers.” Shafer found that “even reluctant fathers were more nurturing, emotionally engaged and better co-parents if they worked for organizations with cultures and policies that promoted family involvement.”
And chances are if a leader of the organization is a father himself, with daughters of his own, he is more likely to be a champion of women at work. This research aligns with the goals of Take The Lead, enlisting men as partners in the path to gender parity.
“A new study from Harvard University researchers has found that – rather sweetly, and perhaps unconsciously – fathers of girls are working to redress the inequalities their girls may later confront at work, by hiring more women at board level,” Anna Brech writes in Grazia.
Academics Paul Gompers and Sophie Wang looked at data from US-based venture capital firms between 1990 and 2016 and found that “organizations where senior partners had more daughters were more likely to be diverse in terms of gender representation. ‘We find strong evidence that parenting more daughters leads to an increased propensity to hire female partners by venture capital firms,’” the researchers write.
A key mission of Take The Lead, to achieve gender parity in leadership by 2025, can only happen with men helping to advance the goal of gender parity. As leaders who deal with parenting issues for both men and women in organizations, programs such as Gender Bilingual Communications training may assist the team to acknowledge that parenting needs for employees is not just an issue for women in the workplace, but for everyone in the workplace.
New dad Clooney may not have to ask for time off work or worry about whether or not he can cart his twins to the set of his next movie, but he will need to accommodate his wife’s schedule with her professional demands like millions of other working moms around the globe.
About the Author
Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldon www.micheleweldon.com