Did you know that October is National Work and Family Month? What better time for another roundup of my favorite work-family-related news and analysis from the past two months.
First, here’s a quick recap of what I’ve been up to lately:
- I wrote “Remember the CEO Who Quit to Be a Dad? He’s Loving It” for the Wall Street Journal. It appeared online on Sept 16th and then in print (to over 2 million US print subscribers!) the following day
- I appeared as part of a “Parent Panel” on Fox and Friends on Saturday, October 11th (the link includes only a short snippet)
- I wrote an article “Is Your Company Father-Friendly?” for World at Work, the leading employee benefits organization that organizes National Work and Family Month activities. I was also part of a tweetchat with World at Work earlier today. You can check out the chat by going to twitter and following #wawnwfm or @ScottBehson
- I was extensively quoted in the Globe and Mail in a feature article, “These Dads Say Long Work Hours Are Costing Them a Full Family Life- So They’re Opting Out” about the trend of high-powered career men downshifting for family reasons. I was also featured in a video interview that accompanies the piece
- I was part of an expert panel for a Webinar on Work-Family and Workflex for 1 Million for Work Flexibility. My co-panelists were Jennifer Owens from Working Mother magazine and consultant Rachael Ellison.
- I was interviewed for a podcast for WorkLife Hub, a European advocacy organization
And now, on to the best of the rest:
The Economic Case for Paternity Leave by Gwynn Guilford in Quartz
This comprehensive examination of the positive ripple effects of paternity leave focuses on the benefits for working women. It makes the argument that, if men are enabled to take paternity leave, it doesn’t have to fall to the mom to downshift or opt-out as often- “As long as mothers are the only parents taking leave, longer stints at home actually worsens job discrimination against them and makes them less likely to pursue a career.” Guilford uses examples from Japan and Sweden to show benefits in workforce participation, particularly in aging societies. She concludes that paternity leave is good for women and the economy.
I agree on all counts, but think she misses a key point- paternity leave is good for kids and fathers, as it enables the development of parenting skills, stronger bonds with children, and an increased likelihood of more paternal involvement throughout children’s lives. And that’s reason enough to support paternity leave.
Dad Bloggers Satirized in “The Onion”
You know you’ve hit the mainstream when The Onion (only the greatest satirical website ever!) pokes fun at you.
CEO Dads Open Up About Balancing Fatherhood and Work by Laura Stampler at Time.com
Consistent with my articles about CEOs Max Schireson and Mohamed El-Erian, major media seems to have picked up on the fact that work-family balance is a challenge even for men, and even for those at the highest levels of corporate hierarchies. In this piece, Stampler interviews 7 C-Suite working dads about their challenges. They all discuss how time with family is important and how they try to carve out sufficient family time, including daddy-daughter breakfast. I guess it’s a start, but all but one of these men had an at-home spouse, and their notions of fatherhood struck me as limited- focused more on special events and weekends than on day-to-day involvement.
My favorite part of this article is the section about EY CEO Mark Weinberger who, as I reported earlier this year, discussed at the White House Summit on Working Families, how he set a public signal by role-modeling how a male executive can, at times, prioritize family over work. As I once wrote:
Change is more likely to happen when the new generation of men in positions of corporate leadership see work-family not as a theoretical issue or one that only effects women but rather as something they see as a real challenge in their own lives.
An Unlikely Father of Five: Comedian Jim Gaffigan by Aaron Schill in the Deseret News
Comedian Jim Gaffigan describes his former self as an ambitious narcissist, but says that becoming a dad has changed his outlook on life. “If a baby’s crying, you can’t really dismiss it as, ‘Well, I’m in the middle of working on this joke on “Law and Order.” ’ You have to put your priorities in perspective.” Gaffigan wrote a funny memoir of his fatherhood experience (he’s a father of 5, ages 2-10) entitled “Dad is Fat” and is developing a sitcom loosely based on his family’s experience and his struggle to balance his career as a comedian and fatherhood. Let’s hope he give working dads’ challenges a funny but respectful treatment, just like his fellow comic, Louis C.K.
Louis C.K. on Dads Being Full Co-Parents and Not Settling for Being “Mom’s Assistant”
Right on! I couldn’t have said it better.
Work-life expert Robin Hardman wrote this eloquent piece about how work-family challenges are acute for both those in high-pressure, extreme-long-hour professions and among those whose hourly schedules are inconsistent and often insufficient to support their families. On the high end, professionals struggle for the flexibility to achieve some sort of balance while maintaining well-paying careers. This blog tends to focus on these concerns. However, work-life issues often fall more heavily on those at the other end of the economic spectrum. Hardman writes, “employees must be ready, sometimes forty hours a week, sometimes 24/7, to drop everything and show up for their minimum wage job. They have to have child care available; they can make no permanent social or vacation plans; they cannot take a class. Generally, all this readiness leads to far less than full-time work and yet by definition also makes it impossible to take a second job.”
So, while most of us have problems, we should recognize that there’s a whole sector of our society who deal with more difficult situations. Hardman reflects on a conference she attended that discussed possible policy solutions. Her article is worth a read.
Do you have any news items to share? Please send them along! In the meantime, let’s discuss in the comments section.
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