Today's dads want to have a successful career, but they also want to be involved in their children's lives and that of their partners. However, workplace traditions and policies are keeping them from a more progressive view of parenting and work. Fathers need to create a network of support and allies for their children at work in order to counter these cultures. Fathers can benefit from the support and advocacy of parenting allies. The colleagues who offer support are those who give direct and practical assistance. Advocates are those who work together to improve the company's culture for parents. Start by sharing your dad's life in all its messy and wonderful glory to build your network. Your colleagues will no longer view your parenting as taboo. Be proud of fatherhood and make it part of your virtual identity. Consider joining existing conversations about working parents within your company and starting a fathers network. It is more difficult to ignore the conversation when there are so many people involved. This will help us create cultures that support all working parents.
It takes a village to raise children, and we all know that being a good teammate and a successful networker is essential if you want success in work and your career. Most fathers don't know how to put two and two together, and have yet to realize the importance of having a network of support for their children at work.
Research on working dads has shown that they want and need to have successful careers. However, they also want to be involved as parents and partners. They want to share in the work and joys. They want to be able to soothe a baby's crying at night, and return home in time for baths or story time. They desire to spend quality time with their families and their children every day.
They are being held back by workplace tradition and policy. Since the invention of the office, the notion of fatherhood being separated from work has been the norm. Many dads give in to this culture rather than confronting it, especially if they are financially fragile.
Fathers can benefit from a network of support and advocacy allies by building a network. Your parenting friends are your colleagues who will be there for you when you need them. This kind of support can be provided in any company culture. A colleague who can support you in your goals of becoming a successful parent and career, or in your emotional and practical well-being, is a valuable ally.
Your parenting ally network's advocacy level has a higher goal: to change the company's culture. It is impossible to make your company a more welcoming place for parents working at home. Parents can have support from parents to help broaden the conversation and move it in new directions. They can have more conversations with different people. They become more comfortable with the ideas, and leaders begin to notice. They slowly change their minds.
Consider advocating for a progressive paternity policy. A dad cannot fight alone for change. He needs to be supported by others. It is important to have a lot of conversations about how better leave can make dads happier and more productive. Fathers and father-in-waiting are more likely to stay with the company, which makes it easier to find new talent. A business's loyalty is more important than its long working hours. Fathers who take longer paternity leaves are better for mothers. These messages should be spread on the shop floor, as well as in marketing, finance, HR, and marketing and at the CEO's office.
Your parenting network
There are many people who can help you parent your children. Many mothersmoms will appreciate the energy and involvement of new generations of dads. They have been fighting for parental rights for decades. Parents who have experienced the difficulties of juggling their career and family life will be your allies. A ally can hold any job title. However, if they have direct influence over parental policy at work they are more effective. They can be of any size. They can serve as sounding boards for ideas or thoughts, or can help spread them widely. These are some steps to get started.
Your life as a father, in all its messy and wonderful glory, is shared. Many dads are successful at work, but keep their fatherhood from clients and colleagues. This tends to make you more contagious. Talk about it. Talk about your weekend, and make sure to include the family outing. Mention that you're leaving early today in order to arrive home for storytime. Joke about the diaper change that went horribly sour.
Your parenting life should be normalized and you will show your colleagues that it is not taboo. Perhaps a parent with younger kids will ask for your advice, or perhaps a parent with older children will offer some. You have created an environment for discussion. You've set an example for dads by being a manager. Do not forget to mention your dual responsibilities. It is not difficult to be a good father and worker.
Fly your dad's flag online. Although you may not meet other parents while working remotely, the principle of the flag is the same regardless of whether you are chatting via Zoom or Teams. Your children's artwork should be displayed in your background. Your profile photo should be a family picture. You can have a meeting with your toddler every now and again. You can start a Slack group to discuss parenting issues with parents. Invite a few people and watch the word of mouth spread. Start a discussion about parenting online.
Participate in existing conversations. You may have formal parent groups within your company. These groups are a great way for dads and moms to talk about issues at work that impact them as parents. In a variety of parent networking sessions, we've been asked to share the struggles we have faced as dads. Because moms are more likely set up parenting groups at work, they are more mom-focused. That dynamic can be changed by you and your friends.
Create a dads network. Start your own dads network if there aren't any already established parent networks in your workplace. To encourage reluctant fathers to open up, make it a dads' network. Men might feel uncomfortable discussing their issues with other fathers, and may be put off by the idea that there is a general parenting club. If you feel it is appropriate, you can modify the policy later. There are more work-based dad clubs emerging, including our Dad Connect program which helps dads make connections within and between organizations.
Ask dads in your workplace if you would like to meet up to discuss important issues such as parenting and work. This shouldn't take too much energy or time. A lunchtime meeting once per month might be sufficient. Ask HR to advertise the group on the staff newsletter and/or put a noticeboard. Contact interested people before every meeting by creating an email or Slack list.
As the group grows in stature, expand its responsibilities. Invite a senior manager to discuss the business's efforts to foster family-friendly working habits. Invite moms to meet with the senior management team or establish ties with mom groups within the business. Create a list of innovative ideas that the group would like to see, along with examples of best practices. Regular messaging will keep the group connected between meetings. Encourage members to talk about practical questions such as recommendations for family-friendly restaurants and the best things to do this weekend with four-year-olds.
These are just a few suggestions. It is up to you what you do with your friends. It doesn't matter if you are having the conversation in an informal or formal setting. The most important thing is to begin the discussion with your allies. It is important to have a work culture that recognizes dads who work. This will help us move towards a more progressive view of parenting and work. It is more difficult to ignore the issue when there are so many people involved. We need to create environments that support all working parents.
This article is taken from the HBR Working Parents book Advice for Working Dads.