Fathers today actively seek to influence their children’s lives positively and are aware of their responsibility in raising their children.

In many conversations with friends, colleagues and corporate associates, a common theme is that fatherhood has seen a significant shift in recent years. The conversation has moved beyond being interpreted in stereotypically gendered ways to one that is ‘equitable partnerships’. Fathers today actively strive to influence their children’s lives positively and are aware of their responsibility in raising them. This is great news, but it’s also interesting to see how organizations perceive a gap in their utilization of the benefits they have created.

Around 90 of the 187 countries provide statutory paid paternity leaves. Four out of ten organizations offer paid leave exceeding the minimum statutory requirement. Many countries offering generous paternity leave have low adoption rates. The pandemic led to more women leaving the workforce (58%) to spend more time with their families and childcare. There is a clear correlation. I think the lack of precedents and culture in the immediate environment could be the reasons for men’s low adoption of these provisions. I am reminded of a powerful observation made by James Clear in his book “Atomic Habits”: The norms of a tribe often outweigh the desires of an individual. They may be embarrassed or even punished professionally. This could also hinder their career growth and make them looked down on. What can organizations do for fathers caring for their children?

A paradigm shift toward gender-agnostic policies regarding ‘parents” is needed to demonstrate empathy for employees who fill multiple roles. This could be applied in several ways, including providing childcare benefits to mothers and fathers. Organizations can also celebrate fatherhood, e.g., by hosting baby showers, constructively marking Father’s Day and actively building Father networks within the organization to exchange thoughts and ideas. Flexible work arrangements for mothers and fathers might ease the burden on the former. This will create a new dynamic at work, allowing for healthy, strong and equitable partnerships between the parents. This will have a positive effect on the child’s development.

It’s no secret that the company’s culture is passed down from the corridors. Men who don’t see other men taking time off to prioritize their families, especially those in leadership positions, find it hard to break free from the mould. The best way to motivate other employees is to lead by example. This means that they will take advantage of the time provided to them. In the face of social norms that prevent fathers from accessing benefits, companies must ensure that their male employees know what support arrangements are available and how to use them. Simple nudges, more important than anything else, can help fathers accept their role as caretakers. Young fathers can feel more accepted by asking about their children’s development and family, rather than just discussing the weekend. This will encourage them to be more serious in their parent role. This is a great way to form a strong community that encourages learning, sharing ideas, and camaraderie throughout important phases of their lives.

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