The Father's Day Dilemma
19 June 2017
It was Father’s Day yesterday, so I hope my fellow fathers out there were duly spoiled with homemade cards, gifts, and a relaxing time for the day. Personally, I’d be happy with five minutes peace and quiet once in a while!
I am very lucky in that I consider myself to have a healthy work/life balance. I see my daughters every day, and more often than not, get home in time to enjoy a bedtime story and kiss them goodnight. We get to spend our weekends together playing in the park or taking trips. This got me thinking about a lot of senior candidates I speak with, who, despite the positive remuneration of their positions, are missing out on the very aspects of parenthood that I treasure.
I read a very interesting article on LinkedIn the other day about ‘anti-dad’ stigma within the workplace. Whilst efforts have been made to accommodate working mums though flexitime, maternity leave and part-time hours (and rightfully so, since women traditionally have the bulk of the parenting to do) – the same cannot be said for dads.
This is particularly evident in Director level positions, where long hours and total immersion in a company is usually par for the course. It is almost unheard of for male employees to take shared parental leave or to ask for flex/part-time hours in order to undertake the most important duty they’ll ever have – being a father.
There is a real stigma around being a “working dad”. So, even though we are working hard towards equality and diversity goals in our workplaces, we still aren’t comfortable with the thought that some male employees want more time with their children. Dads are every bit as committed to their children as mums are. We read bedtime stories, do the school run and make dinners. But, for some reason, being a ‘house husband’ or asking for reduced hours can be seen as weak or unprofessional.
For the very same reason that some women feel like they cannot progress in their careers, childcare is a big issue when it comes to retaining a senior position within the workplace and the all-important work/life balance.
The article I mentioned stated that men switch jobs in order to get more time with their family more often than women do, and that men often take pay cuts in order to get more family time, too. Yet, being a hands-on parent still seems like a taboo subject for many male employees, who will often cite reasons other than family when asked why they are leaving a position. It also mentions the issue of paternity leave – never mind reaching the stage of shared parental leave. We simply can’t afford to stay at home with our precious newborns.
During our Mental Health Awareness Week campaign, we spoke about how important it is to encourage men in particular to talk about their feelings and wellbeing. Doesn’t family life come in to it too? Male employees – at whatever point in their career they find themselves in – should feel confident in talking about their commitment to both their family and their job. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
If you would like to speak to me about roles which offer a great work/life balance, I’d be delighted to help you with your job search. Click here to see my details and speak to me confidentially.
Written By Barry Lee