Parental leave is evolving, but many people feel we haven’t yet got the balance right. Research by My Family Care revealed 60% of fathers with children under school age do not have a working pattern that suits them, and 28% are unhappy with their work-life balance. Almost half said one day a week working from home would make a huge difference to their lives.
Supporting working fathers to strengthen business
Parental leave isn’t about mums versus dads and the desire for flexibility isn’t gender-specific. We want all employees to have fulfilling work and personal lives; supporting them in this leads to a stronger business.
I chair our parents and carers network with around 700 members, offering support for employees caring for a family member. We’ve made an effort to engage dads in this so we can understand and translate their needs to the workplace. The network allows men who have a good work-life balance to discuss it with peers, as there are few role models for dads.
Supporting new fathers is key. Dedicated new father/father-to-be coaching sessions explore issues such as work-life-balance, expectation management and overcoming stereotypes – to empower fathers to be confident in their new role.
Parental schemes for both genders
Encouraging dads to use the parental schemes from which many mothers benefit is crucial too. Our flexible working programme allows fathers to consider home-working options and our emergency childcare benefit is open to fathers too.
As a father of two young boys, my career is important, but being a dad is more so. I’m proud my employer respects my parenting role and is creating a supportive environment for other men in my position. Of course, more can always be done, and we’re at an early stage of seeing dads growing more open about their desire for flexible working. We hope to set a positive example to help change the dynamics for the better.
Richard Speight, EMEA global markets HR executive, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Richard has been at the bank since August 2010 when he joined as the EMEA HR executive for
technology and operations.