When I am interviewed about paternity leave, my book, and other “working dad” issues, I always get the question about why, even in companies that provide paid paternity leave, many dads don’t feel they can actually take an extended leave without significant career consequences. My typical answer goes something like this:
If you’re a dad who works, this is a good time to celebrate. Not only because it’s Fathers’ Day, but because caring about fathers and their needs is no longer a touchy-feely, Phil Donahue kind of thing. Businesses, researchers, the media, and all manner of celebrities have been throwing the spotlight on men who enjoy … Read more
On Monday, May 12th, I will be a panelist at the NYC Regional event that is part of the White House Summit on Working Families.
I will be part of a panel of business leaders and academics exploring private-sector solutions for working families- how businesses can play a part in helping employees balance work and family. I have been asked to speak on work-family issues in general and on fathers’ concerns. There will also be a panel looking at public-sector and legislative solutions.
The headliners at this event are Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, Thomas Perez, Secretary of the US Department of Labor, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and NYC Mayor Bill DiBlasio. Panelists include yours truly, executives from L’Oreal and Shake Shack, small business owners, NYS and NYC government officials, and public advocates for working families.
A dad alleges that his employer retaliated against him by marginalizing and then firing him after he fought for his right to take the paid parental leave the company had in its policy manual. If true, this case speaks to the real struggle for working fathers- the fear of reprisal for visibly prioritizing family.
I have the best readers. The other day, an FWF reader sent me an email with a link to this story from the NY Post. Here’s a quick summary:
– Tonny Uy, a former senior accountant at asmallworld.net (a social networking site for millionaires), sought paternity leave when his and his husband’s daughter was born
– He was initially rebuffed, but he then pointed out the policy in the employee handbook
– The company then agreed to the 40 days (8 weeks) paid leave (which is quite generous compared to most policies)
– After taking leave, Uy contends he was treated differently by his supervisor, and a few months later, he was told his job was being eliminated. He was replaced with a part-time employee
– He alleges asmallworld changed their employee handbook, removing the paid leave benefit for all employees a few months after he returned from his leave (kinda like Cartman?)
A few caveats are in order- the only information I have about the suit is this article, and we are only getting Uy’s side of the story. However, if the alleged facts are indeed true, this situation is disturbing to me on two levels.
First, if the company has a policy on the books, employees shouldn’t have to fight for the right to avail themselves of that policy. From this article, It is not clear if asmallworld had only a maternity leave policy or a more general parental leave policy that covered both moms and dads. Further, if a policy is on the books, it should also extend to adoptive parents (I am assuming this is the case for Uy and his husband).
Here’s a quick checklist from Greg Marcus’ book “Busting Your Corporate Idol” that can tell you if you are exhibiting signs of chronic overwork and have internalized corporate “work before all” priorities.
Greg Marcus recently wrote a great book “Busting Your Corporate Idol: How to Reconnect with Values and Regain Control of Your Life.” He describes corporate idolatry as the state in which one looks to their career/job/employer as a “false god” above other more important priorities such as family, health and religion.
Google found that some employees are able to separate work and non-work, while others take a more integrated approach. How this insight has practical applications for employers and employees and highlights the need for more customized work-family solutions.
I recently came across an excellent HBR.org article by Lazlo Bock about gDNA–Google’s scientific approach to studying their workplace and employees. By collecting and analyzing large amounts of data, they hope to implement workplace changes that accelerate productivity and enhance employee well-being.
Telecommuting has received a burst of media attention. It is increasingly clear that telecommuting is more varied, more common and more beneficial than commonly perceived. Here’s what research shows about the benefits of telecommuting for both employers and employees.
In this series of articles on telework, I will highlight the work of researchers, company best practices, and the experiences of telecommuting employees. This first article focuses on the benefits of telecommuting as found in two recent reputable studies.
A compressed work week is a useful flexible work arrangement that can help free up valuable time for family and life demands while minimizing workplace disruptions.
I have a friend who is a public-sector lawyer with a wife and two young children. He opted for a compressed work week (CWW), in which he works nine 9-hour days over a two-week stretch and then has every other Friday off (another common type of CWWs consists of four 10-hour days with every Friday off). He still works the same number of hours, essentially banking one extra hour a day and cashing these in every two weeks.
Workplace flexibility is a key for working parents trying to balance work and family. Here are some questions that can help us assess the flexibility we have at work, and some ideas about how to leverage them.
Last week, I wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review blog in which I advised well-intentioned supervisors on how to be more “family-friendly” while upholding performance standards. My advice was:
Focus on What, Not How or When
Get Better at Measuring Performance
Delegate, Coach, and Let Your People Earn Trust
Serve as a Work-Family Balance Role Model
The common thread for the first three items is allowing employees more flexibility in how, where and when they perform their jobs, while still maintaining high standards for what. Overall, I think it is sound advice for managers, and the piece was very well-received.
However, I largely write this blog to help my fellow working dads navigate work and family issues. So, what are the implications of this article for the working father?
Here’s something we can do to raise our voices together in support of work flexibility!
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As I noted last week, October is National Work and Family Month– an effort to raise awareness of the importance of work-family balance for employees and employers. I am happy to also be a part of a second advocacy push- One Million for Work Flexibility.
One Million for Work Flexibility seeks to get, well, one million individuals and companies to voice their support for workplace flexibility. By uniting our voice, we will be better able to successfully advocate for changes to corporate and public policy.
Many workplaces are not open to men prioritizing family while at work. To change this, we need visible role models- fathers who are both respected at work and take noticeable actions to balance family responsibilities. If you have the security and courage to do so, here’s some advice on how you can become that role model. (part 2 of a series)
Two weeks ago, I began a series of articles* about how we can “be the change we wish to see” and help make our workplaces more accepting of fathers’ work-family issues. We can do this by:
Talking about our families & asking other men about theirs (see part 1)
Making sure other men in our workplaces see us occasionally use work flexibility for family reasons
Taking paternity leave
Starting a Beer Fire! (a group of male coworkers to discuss life outside of work)
In the first installment, I wrote about how we can make coworkers feel more comfortable discussing their families while at work by taking the lead and starting these conversations. Today, I’d like to go one step further and discuss how we can use our actions to role-model work-family accommodations.
Many workplaces are not open to men discussing family while at work. Here are a few things we all can do to help slowly change our workplace cultures so that fathers can feel more secure in discussing, addressing and even accommodating family demands at work.
I apologize. Most of my advice so far has been to help dads navigate work-family issues as if our workplaces are intolerant of family concerns and that workplaces can never change. I’ve recommended that we keep relatively quiet about discussing family in the workplace, and to negotiate for telework justifying it solely with a business case.
To some degree, this was good advice. Many workplaces are not open to discussion of family, and work schedules and demands are still structured around an “all-in single-breadwinner with at-home spouse” approach that is a relic of another time.
But employers will never change if dads assume that employer hostility towards family demands are set in stone, and that dads must only resort to working through holes in the system, through informal arrangements or “invisible” accommodations.
You know what? I’m tired of waiting (waiting) waiting on the (work)world to change. If my generation of busy involved dads don’t start making change happen, company cultures will remain unchallenged, and more and more dads will have to struggle seemingly alone. Change is possible, and there are some prominent examples of workplace cultures that are supportive of work-family.
So how can we start making changes? I’m glad you asked. I have a few ideas…