Much has been debated about gender equality, but the focus has always been on women and the impact that motherhood may have on their careers. What about the father and the challenges that they face?
Gender equality organisations,HeANDShe together with Token Man hosted last week in London the workshop: 'Fathers in the workplace', to discuss how a shared responsibility can have an impact on their partners and ultimately gender equality.
When the law gets in the middle
In the debate companies were urged to change their paternity leave to a minimum of 6 weeks at full pay in order to allow more women to lean at work without collapsing with exhaustion. Roxanne Hobbs of Hobbs Consultancy told Power Women of City that men have continued to shy away from taking paternity leave as the law is skewed.
“The legislation isn't ideal - at the moment what a man gains, a woman loses," she continued, “And some women don't want to give up any of their maternity leave."
Hobbs went further to say the reasons for man to avoid paternity leave are even complicated and far reaching.
“The gender pay gap, for instance, will impact - because men typically earn more than women, in a lot of relationships it makes more sense for the woman to be taking any leave that isn't paid at 100%,” she said.
To deal with this challenge, the workshop resolved that companies should at least change their paternity leave to a minimum of 6 weeks at full pay.
“Men leaning it at home will allow women to lean in at work, without collapsing with exhaustion. Research shows that partners in which both have full on jobs, the woman does more of the caring / home responsibilities still,” said Hobbs.
The workshop also resolved to encourage men to “have conversations about being a dad with other dads and, for dads who are taking on the primary carer role, to go in to schools and showcase what they're doing to change the beliefs of the next generation.”
Mrs Hobbs bemoaned persistence of cultural stereotypes that men should be the provider and women care givers in this modern era. “Men are still perceived as different. They don't get invited to join in at nursery and school events like the women do,” she said.
Instead, she praised the men who have taken the step to be the first ones in family care giving as pioneers who are helping to change society’s views. She said such stereotypes are the reason it is so difficult for men to lean at home than at work.
“We have this unwritten rule for men to be the provider and it can be really hard to move beyond this and think about what kind of Dad they truly want to be,” concluded Hobbs.
Roxanne Hobbs is a fighter for diversity in the workplace. She founded The Hobbs Consultancy with the goal of supporting both men and women in the workplace.
“I founded The Hobbs Consultancy because of a deep-seated belief that the advertising industry had to, and could, do better to support women. Whilst this journey began with supporting women, and gender diversity, it has become clear to me that diversity is about so much more than gender. I believe that creating more diversity in the workplace is going to lead to greater creativity, innovation and problem solving."