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Employers must help new dads lean in at home

Employers are realising that dual income families could be the silver bullet to solving the gender pay gap, since the only sustainable way to close the gap is to encourage more women to continue their career after children, argues executive coach Geraldine Gallacher.

Geraldine Gallacher

July 2018

Women in families where both partners nurture each other’s careers, and where childcare and home responsibilities are equally shared, are less likely to step away from their careers. Employers have a role to play in helping families achieve this objective. In particular, this means supporting fathers to lean in at home.

In our coaching work with new parents we encourage them to truly shift away from a gendered approach to splitting the tasks before the baby arrives. Of course, it will only be successful if they both want to make it work, are prepared to have a good dialogue about it and are courageous enough to depart from inflexible role stereotyping.

He will have to push back at work to be allowed to spend more time with the kids and she will have to ignore other people’s advice that children need their mums. But the youngest generation in the workplace do seem ready to embrace more fluidity in role assignment. Millennials are interested in shaking up traditional stereotypes.

Here are three key pieces of advice we share with parents-to-be:

  1. Learn from the experience of other parents
    Talk to other dual income parents about their experience of working and parenting pre-school children. Find out what changes they’ve had to make at work, at home, to family finances, and their relationship. Use this knowledge to identify what is important to you both and how you will achieve what you want. Rather than answering all your questions this conversation will give you a set of guiding principles to consider the inevitable compromises to home and work life that will crop up until your children fly the nest.
  2. Plan your response to unexpected scenarios
    Children fall sick, childcare falls through and schools close for snow days. Have a plan for how you are going to deal as a unit with such emergencies, rather than defaulting to one parent to adjust their work plans.
  3. Work out the cost of breaking gender norms
    Today few organisations in the UK offer true parental leave, consequently few families can afford for the father to take an extended period of leave unless they have already set money aside to offset the income drop. 

Geraldine Gallacher is founder and MD of the Executive Coaching Consultancy 

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