Why right now is the time to show your support for men and dads in the workplace!

With less than 2 weeks to go to International Men’s Day (IMD), we asked our dads coach, Ian Dinwiddy, for his thoughts around the current work/family balance challenges for working dads and what employers can be doing to support dads in the workplace for IMD:

Why does work-life balance matter to Dads as much as Mothers? What does a good work-life balance mean to most men?

Ian: I’m not sure it’s as easy to assume that anymore, a new generation of dads wants to “have it all”, to be a great dad without sacrificing a great career. Research, before and after the pandemic suggests they are prepared to make career changes to achieve this and to be the type of father they don’t remember growing up, a presence in their children’s lives. 

How has the pandemic impacted work-life balance and employers’ attitudes to flexible working? How can men use this to their advantage?

Ian: The pandemic has shown that not only is it possible to work remotely and flexibly, but it also no longer comes with the baggage of being seen as uncommitted or ‘slacking off’. Men can use this reframing of flexible working to build different working patterns, ones that see work life balance not just as a “perk for mums”, with the damaging connotations for women’s progression, but embedded and integrated into a more sustainable, equal and person friendly society.

What do most managers think of men working flexibly or school hours? Are stereotypes still impacting on men as well as women?

Ian: There remains a strong societal bias towards traditional roles – male breadwinner and female carer, but every month that passes with Covid-inspired or enforced work pattern changes, certainly within office-based roles, the more likely it is that stereotypes will be broken, not least because businesses that embrace the new normal will start the hoover up talent. I hear story after story that speaks to a fundamental change in business and individual attitudes, with dads consistently saying they won’t go back to 5 days a week in the office.

What’s stopping men from having a good work-life balance? or stopping dads being supported at work?

Ian: Often, it’s a simple as believing that no one else wants the same thing; not asking for what they need; fear of being seen as “uncommitted”; following traditional stereotypes without pausing to consider and talking openly about what they and their families actually want.

What impact does a poor work-life balance, or lack of support for dads in the workplace have on men and their families?

Ian:  Mental health issues including excessive stress and burn out. Inequality at home, which prevents women returning to or giving their all at work because they are taking on the majority of the mental load and “second shift”.

What are the wider benefits to treating all parents equally – in terms of retention, mental health and productivity?

Ian:  A move away from “perks for mums” means we are no longer able to discount women’s contribution (or future contribution), because of expectations about the role of men and women at home and in the workplace. Ensuring there is support for dads in the workplace means that men gain the mental health benefits of not being sole breadwinners and become more connected with their children, gaining skills, confidence and a track record of childcare ability that insulates them from post-separation lack of access.

The theme for this year’s UK’s International Men’s Day is ‘making a positive difference to the wellbeing and lives of men and boys; promoting a positive conversation around men, manhood and masculinity’.  Employers can make a huge difference by using this week in November to put on events which recognise and support male health and wellbeing.  The IMD Employer’s Guide has many ideas and resources for HR/managers/D&I/Family Networks.

Mark Brooks OBE, National Ambassador for International Men’s Day UK, says: ‘International Men’s Day has really taken off in the last few years as a way for organisations to support their male employees and show their appreciation for what they contribute. Many use it to help them with their wellbeing, support the community by fundraising for charities and to underpin their EDI work. It is a really inclusive platform so everyone in organisations can get involved.

With the increasing focus on issues such mental health and wellbeing, male cancers, workplace safety, education/skills and fatherhood, International Men’s Day is a perfect time for organisations to demonstrate their wider commitment to their male staff.’

At Parent & Professional, we are very excited to welcome Mark Brooks to open our half-day conference for dads in law firms, held in conjunction with The Legal Training Consultancy. Ian will also be holding 2 events for dads themselves, as well as hosting a panel discussion.  To book your place or find out more, click here.

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