My Paternity Leave Message for the Dad 2.0 Summit

This week, I’ll be at the Dad 2.0 Summit, an annual gathering of bloggers, brands and influencers trying to get the message out to the world about the importance of involved fatherhood, as well as how fatherhood is depicted in the media and supported in society. I’ll be moderating a panel on paternity leave and other workplace supports for fathers, with the goal of arming influencers with the information and motivation they need to spread the word on the importance and benefits of paternity leave. Here’s the message I hope to spread.

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Paternity Leave is good for:

  • Dads & Kids: Dads who can take PL are more involved in childcare throughout their kids’ lives. Involved fatherhood is associated with increased health, cognitive development, success in school, avoiding legal trouble, and with exposing kids to egalitarian ideas and career paths (especially for girls)
  • Moms: Moms aren’t left to do it alone while recovering. Dads with PL more likely to share care and household tasks over time. Moms with husbands who take leave and are involved are less likely to “opt out” of the workplace and damage their careers.
  • Employers: Data from California’s program shows that over 88% of employers reported no effect or positive effect of state parental leave policy. Many employers cite better ability to recruit and retain key talent, as well as increase employee engagement and commitment.

But, Paternity Leave is all too rare:

  • Fewer than 14% of private employers offer paid PL
  • In a survey of white-collar dads, 75% cobbled together a week or less of accumulated time off. 18% took no time off. Many cited the fear of being perceived as unmanly or uncommitted, harming career prospects.
  • The situation is almost assuredly worse for hourly employees and blue-collar dads

Some good news:

  • 3 States (California, New Jersey and Rhode Island) have paid parental leave policies. Use by dads increasing
  • The FAMILY Act introduced in Congress would expand this nationwide
  • The USA greatly expanded PL for federal employees and will subsidize new state programs
  • More private employers are embracing paid PL. More male CEOs speaking out
  • 2014 EEOC Guidelines offer hope for expanded access to PL

What can you do?

  • Spread the word about the gap between where we are and where we need to be
  • Support social policy                          Get women on board
  • Tell stories of dads who took leave and how it changed their families
  • Encourage employers (http://some.ly/1hh9qDe)

Dad 2.0 Panel on Paternity Leave: Scott Behson, Carolyn Cowan, Phillip Cowan, Michael Kaufman, Will Neville-Rehbehn

I’ll provide lots of updates from the dad 2.0 Summit on facebook and twitter, and have a wrap-up piece here on the blog next week.

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15 thoughts on “My Paternity Leave Message for the Dad 2.0 Summit

  1. I took a full year of paternity leave from my workplace in Japan in 2010, and it changed my life. I’ve been writing about my experiences…and about parents, children, family, and society in general, ever since. I never would have thought to do so before!

      • Likewise. Glad to know you’re interested. I’m looking forward to comparing some of your ideas with the work environment over here in Japan. I’m almost certain that despite cultural differences the ingrained work attitude may not be too terribly different after all!

        • In fact, research shows that the US and Japan are the top 2 “live to work” cultures in the world (as opposed to “work to live.” — as seen in lack of vacation days taken, # of hours worked, etc.

          • “Cool biz” became a catch phrase here when former PM Koizumi showed up to work with no jacket or tie (2003-ish) but the corporate culture has strongly resisted change. Telecommuting, for example, has never been allowed. “Flex” (or “z” for some reason) has come to be used for the public sector (my last school was national), but workers are expected to physically be at work a minimum of 40 hours per week. At the public school I got 20 days off, but most people rarely took more than 5 or 6. They didn’t want to be seen as “inconveniencing” colleagues (this is a major theme in my book!)

  2. Great to hear you spreading the word about paternity leave, it’s such an important message. Hope you have a great time at Dad 2.0. I feel very far away from the event in some ways (as I’m thousands of miles away on the other side of the pond and am unlikely to ever be able to attend it), but also kind of close to it through hearing about it from fellow dad bloggers.

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