Working mothers have long been striving for equality in the workplace. But full equality requires the recognition and support for working fathers too.
Once upon a time, the idea of fathers switching the concrete jungle for the jungle gym would have surprised most but now work is no longer the main priority. This change has been felt throughout organisations everywhere: fathers are rethinking employment choices, choosing roles which allow them to effectively balance family and work, and making conscious efforts to spend more time with the family.
In 2019, our Modern Families Index told us that family is the greatest priority for working parents and almost a third of parents share care equally: over 70% of fathers would consider their childcare before applying for a promotion, 50% would remain in their job to maintain their flexibility and 40% believe their employer should make efforts to change company culture so work-life balance is more acceptable.
Hearing first-hand from fathers is critical. It tells us how they are responding and evolving in the workplace, their challenges and aspirations. And it also tells us the costs for employers that aren’t noticing the change and adapting. Recruitment, retention and productivity are expensive and with working families telling us that they’d downshift or leave an organisation in search of a better work-life balance, the bottom line is in jeopardy. Most importantly, fathers are telling us how we can achieve equality so that everyone can grow and thrive both at home and at work.
For employers, policies and benefits are a great starting point in providing practical support for families but the importance of creating a culture which goes beyond simply communication, but encourages everyone to use them, cannot be underestimated.
Our 2020 Modern Families Index, due to be released in Spring next year, will no doubt show that the dial for fathers will continue to shift.