About the author:
I became a dad for the first time in late 2016. It has been one of the biggest learning curves and by far the most rewarding experience of my life.
I always desired to be an involved father when parenthood came about. Thankfully I am fortunate enough to work for an organisation that offers industry leading gender-neutral parental leave. Not only was I able to take 9 months of leave during the first 14 months of my child’s life (using a combination of annual leave, unpaid leave and the 18 weeks paid leave for primary carers offered by my firm), I was heavily encouraged and supported in doing so.
I have also been working in the corporate sector for the whole of my working life, primarily as a human capital management consultant, specialising in change management, organisational culture and organisation design. Consulting has provided me with a wealth of experience in banking and financial services, as well as state and federal government, particularly in the banking, utilities and media sectors.
Inspiration for this site:
Upon becoming a father, I quickly realised how bias society has become against dads playing an active carer role in their children’s lives. Marketing almost exclusively targets mothers for all forms of baby products and services. Mothers are referred to Mothers Groups by the Government with a noticeable absence of similar support groups for dads. Furthermore, the social standard for being a ‘good dad’ are abysmally low with the general standard being free on weekends to play with the kids and ‘give mum a break’ by changing a nappy or two.
I also realised that friends, colleagues and peers were quite shocked at the amount of time I was taking off. There was an obvious double standard between how others perceived the time my wife took off to be with our child (11 months) versus the time I took off. While everyone thought it was great, I was continually asked “What are you going to do with all your time off?’’, as if there was an expectation that I needed to achieve something other than keeping my child alive to warrant taking such a long period of leave. Even while on leave, strangers would comment about how lovely it was that I took a day off to look after my son, verbalising the outdated, unconscious bias entrenched in society and many current corporate policies that a dad’s role in parenting is actually to simply work and provide for the family.
When researching this, I discovered what seems to becoming a growing movement advocating for dads to take a more active role in parenting. Blogs and websites like fathersworkandfamily.com and thenewdad.org (both based in the USA) were primary inspiration for wanting to advocate for equality for corporate dads when it comes to parental leave, not only here in Australia, but globally. While this site aims to challenge the system and social construct here in Australia, my hope is that the tools and arguments set out can be applied universally. Achieving equality for dads isn’t just about the rights of dads - it’s about:
- Enabling and empowering families to make decisions that are based on the best interests of their children and the family unit
- Empowering parents to choose how to share the financial burden and impacts on both careers that are inherent with having children
- Supporting the careers of mothers in the workforce and reducing the gender pay gap
- Promoting greater balance leading to healthier families and healthier relationships
Challenging the corporate world to alleviate gender inequality regarding parental leave and create better working environments that increase staff engagement, loyalty and overall employee.