Case for supporting paternity leave for men
We believe that true equality between men and women will not be reached until men and boys take on 50 percent of the care giving and domestic work. Equal leave policies for both parents, policies that are well paid and non-transferable, have been gaining global attention in recent years, for good reason. They have proven to be some of the most effective policies in encouraging men’s care giving and promoting greater equality in the household, workplace, and society as a whole, particularly when embedded within broader strategies to reduce and redistribute care work. However, while maternity leave is now offered in nearly all countries, new fathers are only given leave in 92 countries. Now is the time to ensure the right of all parents to be able to care for their children and families. Leave for fathers in conjunction with leave for mothers and additional structural solutions, and when enshrined in national policies, has the power to contribute significantly to the recognition and redistribution of care work and to transform deeply rooted inequalities between men and women. These policies can be an effective mechanism for changing the gendered dynamics of care-giving at home and elevating the status of care giving more broadly. Leave for a father promotes women’s equal pay and advancement in the workforce and men’s disconnectedness at home. It boosts employees’ morale and productivity, and reduces turnover. It allows governments to send a clear signal that all parents matter in the lives of their children. Fathers, like mothers and other caregivers, need support to care for their children, including time off from work after the birth of a child.
According to national data, only 15% of male and female workers have access to paid leave through their employer. This access varies tremendously by income: only 4% of the lowest wage workers have access to paid leave compared to 24% for the highest wage workers. And even when women and men have access to paid leave they often don’t use it all, particularly fathers. What gives? How can support fathers and mothers to give their all when it comes to caring for their children? To explore this critical issue impacting men, women and future generations, Dove Men Care and Prom undo partnered to carry out a pioneering study on what keeps fathers from taking parental leave and being the fully involved caregivers they want to be.
According to Prom undo and Dove Men Care carried out an online survey of men and women ages 25-45. The study took place in April and May 2018 and included 1,088 men (83% of whom were fathers), and 626 women (64% of whom were mothers); more men were included to allow for in-depth analyses of their perceptions about care-giving while still providing reliable comparisons to women overall and mothers. The sample was proportional for all regions of the country and for all major ethnic groups. 96% of respondents defined themselves as heterosexual, with the rest affirming another sexual identity. In addition to caring for children, 17% of respondents cared for an adult family member who was elderly, ill or disabled. From his research showed the percentage of change jobs to be more involved in caring for a newborn was fathers.
In the summary of Promundo survey confirmed that men want to be involved caregivers. What hold them back are outdated societal expectations and whether they receive the support they need from their workplace, as well as other social touch points. By supporting fathers, they can enable them to be the best they can be at work and at home. In turn, paternity leave would help contribute to improving gender equality in society they said, By supporting fathers, employers can improve their recruitment and retention of top talent and also mention their summary both men who might leave to be fully involved at home and women who can find the time to excel at work when their male partners are fully involved with child care.
For advocates of paternity leave, recent years have brought some good news. High-profile companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Microsoft have created or expanded their programs. Twenty-nine percent of organizations now offer some paid leave for fathers, up from 21% According to the Society for Human Resource Management. And steadily, more states are creating paid family leave insurance programs, which include leave for new fathers. But overall, the picture is bleak. 71% of organizations not offering paternity leave are nothing to celebrate. Even among large businesses with at least 10,000 employees, almost half (48%) lack paternity leave. Worse, when paternity leave is offered, the pressures on men not to take it are often extreme. Some new dads have been fired, demoted and lost job opportunities for doing so.
My book, All In, is filled with such stories, and parents often share. A lawyer in Florida recently told that his boss said to him, “they have six weeks of paternity leave, but he couldn’t take any.” Public relations executive in California told her husband’s boss criticized him, asking, “Why isn’t his wife doing that?” In a survey helped develop for Dove Men Care (a brand I partner with) and Promundo, 73% of fathers said there’s little workplace support for them. Twenty-one percent fear losing their jobs if they take their full paternity leave. “They are still held back by two traditional stereotypes: that the men are the primary breadwinners and women are the primary caregivers for children,” the survey found. These stereotypes, vestiges of the Mad Men era, hurt everyone. They hold back women’s careers, since families are left with no choice but for women to do more care-giving. They hurt children, who need time with both parents. They damage businesses, which lose great women and men. EY found that men are even more likely than women to switch jobs or careers to have more time with their families. It isn’t easy to stand up to the pressures against taking paternity leave. With a new child in the home, things are hectic and, in most cases, money is tight. The last thing dads can do is risk their jobs and careers.
But men in this situation need to know they’re not alone. After launched a legal fight against CNN/Time Warner for fair paternity leave, people all over the country and around the world issued public statements of support. Numerous colleagues of mine were openly supportive as well. All this made a huge difference. (Ultimately, the company changed its policy, in a win-win for both sides.)
So to fight this battle for the sake of women, men, businesses, all of society, and most importantly children who need time with both their mothers and fathers we need to stick together.
Leave policies that offer paid, non-transferable leave for men and women help to advance gender equality, social justice, and the well-being of women, children, and men. Women, when men take leave, it helps women keep their jobs, their employ ability, and their prospects in the labor market; decreases women’s care and domestic burden; and improves women’s health and well-being. As Children, globally, an overwhelming amount of evidence confirms that men’s engaged and responsive participation in their children’s lives has positive effects. As a Men; Men who are involved in their children’s lives have longer, healthier ones themselves. They experience better mental health, better relationships, and more personal satisfaction. As an Employer; Paid leave is increasingly shown to be good for business, improving retention of employees, increasing morale and productivity, reducing absenteeism and turnover, and reducing training and staff-replacement costs. As well as the Societies; leave for fathers have benefits at all levels of society, contributing to the recognition and redistribution of care work, and to the transformation of deeply rooted inequalities between men and women.