Supporting dads at work: How can HR support dads to build a network of parenting allies at work

Dad holding his son whilst working on a post note plan

The workplace has evolved in supporting mothers, but there’s a growing realisation that fathers face their own unique challenges in work-life balance. This guide aims to help HR departments champion and cultivate networks of parenting allies for fathers, creating a more inclusive and supportive environment and supporting dads at work.

Research on working dads underscores a longing for professional success without side-lining their roles as present, involved parents. Fathers wish to partake in both the challenges and joys of parenting – be it soothing a crying baby or being home for story-time. However, the pivotal role fathers play and the unique challenges they encounter remains an aspect that many organisations overlook. The pressing question is: How can HR departments amplify the voice of working fathers and help them build an essential network of parenting allies?

The Case for Supporting Working Dads:

Sidley Austin LLP, a leading global law firm, stands out as a beacon for organisations aiming to pave the way for supporting working dads. They believe in a culture where working fathers shouldn’t have to sacrifice their parental role at the altar of professional success. Instead, fathers at Sidley Austin are encouraged to embrace both these identities, allowing them to navigate the spectrum of fatherhood whilst progressing at work. This commitment is evident in the firm’s 1-1 parental-transition coaching programme.

How Can Your Organisation Work Towards a Holistic Approach:

The dedication showcased by leading firms towards working dads presents a compelling blueprint for other organisations. To cultivate an inclusive and supportive environment, consider the following steps:

Acknowledge the dual role of fathers: Recognise that many modern fathers desire both professional growth and active participation in their children’s lives.

Create tailored programmes: Offer coaching and tools specifically aimed at aiding fathers in their dual role, such as coaching sessions and work-life balance workshops.

Encourage open conversations: Promote an environment where fathers can discuss their experiences, challenges and aspirations, creating a culture of understanding and support.

Support network building: Promote internal networking groups or forums where dads can connect, share and build a community of support.

Supporting Dads at Work – a Step-by-Step Process

Here’s a step-by-step guide of how to create a network:

1. Find a dads champion:

Every movement or change initiative benefits from having a figurehead or a leading voice. Identify a ‘Dads Champion’ within the organisation — someone who is both passionate about the cause and respected within the community. This individual can share their experiences, motivate others and be the face of the initiative.

2. Include mums in the conversation:

Mothers have been advocating for work-life balance and parental rights for years. They bring to the table valuable experiences, insights and strategies that can be leveraged to support fathers. Including mothers in the network ensures a comprehensive approach to addressing the challenges faced by all working parents.

3. Engage senior sponsors:

Senior leadership’s buy-in is critical for the success of any organisational initiative. Identify senior leaders who can sponsor and advocate for the cause. Their support can lend credibility to the initiative, ensure allocation of resources and amplify the message across the organisation.

4. Host regular networking events:

Organise events, workshops or informal meetups where fathers can connect, share experiences and learn from each other. These events can also serve as platforms to invite external speakers or experts on work-life balance and parenting.

5. Establish formal terms of reference:

Clearly outline the goals, objectives and structure of the network. This provides clarity on the network’s purpose, ensures alignment with organisational goals and can serve as a guide for future activities.

6. Allocate a budget:

Whether it’s for hosting events, bringing in external trainers or creating resources, having a dedicated budget ensures that the network can function effectively and carry out its planned activities.

7. Leverage social media and internal platforms:

Create a space, whether on the organisation’s intranet, a dedicated Slack channel or even a private Facebook group, where members can interact, share resources and stay updated on upcoming events.

8. Recruit mentorship volunteers:

Pair newer or soon-to-be fathers with experienced dads who can offer guidance, advice and support. This one-on-one interaction can be immensely beneficial in navigating the challenges of balancing work and fatherhood.

9. Celebrate successes and milestones:

Recognise and celebrate the achievements of the network, whether it’s a successful event, a policy change that the network advocated for, or personal stories of members who benefited from the support.

Be an Organisation that Leads on their Support for Working Dads

By ensuring a comprehensive, inclusive and supportive environment for working dads, organisations not only benefit from enriched employee morale and wellbeing but also position themselves at the helm of a progressive workplace culture. As showcased by Sidley Austin LLP, when working fathers are supported, everybody wins.

Jerry Gallagher, Director of HR at Sidley Austin LLP, says: “With many new fathers increasingly taking longer periods of shared parental leave, fatherhood presents more challenges than it has in the past. The coaching programme provided by Parent & Professional has helped fathers adjust to their new responsibilities and been very well received.”

Kellie Wade, Benefits and Wellbeing Manager for Sidley Austin LLP, adds, “It’s great to be able to offer this benefit to help working fathers balance family responsibilities with professional demands. The feedback received has been overwhelmingly positive.”

For more information on supporting dads a work, contact Parent and Professional today.

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