Why paternity leave is needed to promote gender equality  

16 May 2019:

At a global event for a giant corporation, a top official came up to me. He wanted to discuss work–life balance initiatives, which are a crucial part of building gender equality. “It’s something we take seriously,” he said. “We have maternity leave and offer women the chance to go part-time if they’d like.”

“That’s great,” I responded. “Do you do the same for men?”

“No, no,” he answered. “This is about women.”

I have similar conversations with executives all the time, in the United States and around the world.

There’s no question that corporate America — and companies everywhere — need to do a better job at putting policies in place that enable and empower women to achieve their professional goals, and that help them manage the shifting responsibilities of career, parenting, and caregiving to all family members. But focusing solely on policies aimed at women perpetuates outdated norms and stereotypes that ultimately inhibit greater equality in the workforce, and in society.

In fact, paternity leave and work–life balance programs aimed specifically at men are a necessary step in this journey. Until men have equal opportunities to be caregivers, and until companies regard men as equally responsible for caregiving, most families will be left with no choice: The bulk of caregiving responsibilities will fall to women. And they’ll spend less time at work and more time at home, which can inhibit professional growth.

This is the other half of what it takes to create a level playing field for women and men at work. But it remains largely unknown.

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Source: Strategy+Business

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