In the past few months, we have been spending more time talking about relevant topics affecting our personal families as well as the families within our community of dads in the NYC Dads Group- work-life balance seems to be a recurring theme! Even though women and mother’s have spent several decades battling the challenges of work-life balance…men are starting to raise their hands for help and solutions with this issue as well.
Even though the father’s day media torrent has passed, it’s nice to see a continued focus on fatherhood in the media this week. At the center of the fatherhood work-life balance conversation is The New Dad: Caring, Committed, and Conflicted, a recent study conducted by the Boston College Center for Work & Family – national study of nearly 1000 working fathers with at least one child 18 or younger at one of four Fortune 500 companies
– excellent data about the conflict working dads are feeling between work and family
Professor Brad Harrington, the lead researcher/author of the report…former corporate executive and working father himself…explains that he is “one of very few men who heads a research center focused on work and family issues…and the more he became immersed in the field, the more clear it became that men are increasingly dealing with many of the same issues (as women), and I realized that this was a very under-researched area.
We find this topic of work-life balance as it relates to the whole family (including both moms and dads) fascinating and groundbreaking. Check out this interview with Brad Harrington (article by Chris Erikson), leader of the Center for Work & Family at Boston College published in the NY Post: Male Call: Stress About balancing Careers and Caregiving is no Longer Just a Women’s Issue as he talks about the results of the study, what workplaces should be doing to accommodate men, and what is in store for the future of this issue.
Most interesting to me was the response to this question: What are the most progressive companies doing to implement the kinds of policies you’re talking about?
There are companies that have established men’s groups. There are some that are offering paternity leave. It may only be one or two weeks, but two weeks is a lot, compared to what men have typically taken. A few companies have established a point person on men’s issues in the work-family arena.
Another really important thing is, there are companies that have senior male executives who are willing to stand up and talk about their own challenges and successes balancing work and family. Like, “Here’s what I’ve tried to do, here are the issues I’ve had to cope with, here are the trade-offs I’ve made.” When those people speak publicly about these things, it carries a lot of weight.
So these things suggest that change is taking hold, but slowly. It’s a slow process to get companies — and society at large — to realize that this is not a gender-bound issue.