Father's Day – are we at a point of real change in gender equality?
Guest blog by Han Son Lee, Founder of Daddilife
Today is Father’s Day. This is a good time to look at how dad’s role at home and work may change as we emerge blinking out of full lockdown. It is likely that for many, life will not return to normal for some time but for many fathers, the enforced period of time has been one of reflection about our priorities for work and home life going forward.
As we showed in our Millennial Dad at Work survey last year, 87% of millennial dads are now actively involved in parenting and helping to share the load with partners. The issue for some time has been a difficulty with employers understanding the changing dynamic at home and reflecting it in the workplace. There are many dads who want the flexibility to leave early or work from home so they can pick their kids up or to work from home.
Before I go any further, I think it’s important to note that Gender Equality between mums and dads isn’t necessarily a like for like comparison. The barriers that have faced many women around workplace progression simply won’t have been experienced by the vast majority of men in the same way. But as we start to see more equality at home in modern day families, shouldn’t we as dads now start to realise how we can shape the future of gender equality at work for ourselves in shaping what modern families really look like?
What needs to change?
We recently completed a research piece on Dads in Lockdown, and found that:
- 76% of dads have been involved in day to day parenting during lockdown
- 32% spending more quality time with their children.
Many were involved in activities including: cleaning up (70%), day to day play (83%), family cooking (67%), home-schooling (51%), and the bedtime routine (45%).
Interestingly, 25% also reported that they were looking for more flexible working immediately post lockdown, and a further 16% were exploring more remote working post lockdown too.
It’s clear that lockdown has accelerated a change in priorities between home and work that many modern day dads were not acting on and I believe we are likely to see a surge in requests from dads for flexible and remote working as a norm going forward. This can only be a good thing for families where it is increasingly important for working mums to have someone to share the load at home.
How can we create real change?
I think that true equality goes beyond a flexible working request - it’s about a change in culture and thought across society about a dad’s role. Many dads want to be in there, actively parenting and being a hands-on dad. The outdated stereotype of a father who does nothing at home and is purely the breadwinner, needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history. So how can we create a better culture around fatherhood?
1. Dads need to talk more about how much they love being a parent and challenge any pre-conceived perceptions at work that ‘dads should just be at work’. It will register with others.
2. Parenting is about sharing the day to day boring tasks as well as the fun times. Mums and dads both need a good work/life balance for a less stressful family life. If you are both in it together it makes the end goal easier. Share the load. It’s something the best dad books cover in detail too
3. At work, dads need to start to challenge those little moments in the day where employers think of dads as a secondary parent. The tea break moment, the discussions with other mums about schooling or birthdays, these are all opportunities for showing why you are part of the gender equality debate too.
On Father’s Day we celebrate the role of dads and their role in family life. I think that this year, for the first time we now have an opportunity to bring about a real change in mindset at work too. Lockdown could be the catalyst that will bring about real equality for families and society as a whole.