A Reflection On Working Parents

3 min read | Samantha Furbush Taraskiewicz
With Father's Day in the US last weekend, it got me thinking about working families and what companies are doing to keep and support both working mothers and working fathers. The US Department of Labor reports that 70% of women with children under 18 years old participate in the labor market in some way, signaling a change from the days where father went off to work and mother stayed home and raised the children. 
As a Millennial, I fully agree with Deloitte's 2016 findings that my generation greatly values a work/life balance and we have the desire for flexibility to help us maintain it. Now that Millennials are the majority of the active labor market, companies are starting to recognize the need to evaluating and restructuring their benefits offerings to meet these changing priorities
And as a full-time working mother, I see the value of my partner and I both working for companies that support us as working parents by offering paid parental leave and flextime regardless if we are are male or female. However, I know that we are some of the lucky ones. According to the US Department of Labor, only 12% of private sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employer, and even fewer have flexible work schedules or work from home opportunities. 
For years working mothers have been advocating for paid family leave and flextime, with varying success, but it is only recently that more and more men have been asking for these benefits as well. Recent studies have show that working fathers who spend more time with their children are more likely to have a greater sense of satisfaction on the job, and less of a desire to move to another organization. In Susan Adams's 2015 Forbes article The More Time Dads Spend With Their Kids, The Happier They Are At Work, she discusses these findings and lays out the benefits for companies to be more supportive of all working parents, especially fathers who have been typically forgotten in the past: 

"The message for companies: You will have a more engaged male workforce and greater retention if you offer more liberal paternity leave and increase the availability of flextime and the number of personal days all employees can take to spend time with family. (Those policies would also go some distance toward making working moms happier.)

'Organizations need to recognize fatherhood, support fathers through formal programs like flexible work arrangements and through informal means, not questioning a man who comes in late and leaves early if he gets his work done,' says Beth K. Humberd, assistant professor of management at University of Massachusetts, Lowell, business school and one of the study’s co-authors." 

If you are seeking more flexibility while working, our friends over at FlexJobs have some excellent resources, including their list of 42 Best Flexible Places to Work for New Dads. However, if you do like where you are currently working, but want more flexibility, they advise that you research your company's policies and set up a meeting with your boss and HR team to discuss the options you have. 

New Call-to-actionAnd, as always, Leading Women offers cutting edge insights into ways to minimize the adverse impact of the Motherhood Penalty on managers' talent decisions. For info on how our groundbreaking research on gender dynamics can reduce your organization's barriers to women's advancement, contact us. 

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photo credit: Leise Jones Photography