Three quarters of parents agree that making parental leave more attractive to fathers is key to helping working mothers progress in their career, according to new research by Talking Talent. However, despite expanding parental leave policies, men take only a third (32 percent) of the leave made available to them. Women take just over half (52 percent).
While a majority of parents said their organizations had support systems for parental leave in place, most believe there was a disconnect between policies and how they are used by employees. Men were more likely to than women (65 percent vs. 48 percent) to feel this disconnect. Many men felt their coworkers did not take advantage of the parental leave policies. As a result, 62 percent of men believe taking extended parental leave would be detrimental to their career.
However, there is a way to fix this paternity leave crisis and even the playing field for working mothers, who often fear being "mommy tracked" because extended parental leaves are not the norm. 72 percent of men say they would have taken a longer parental leave if they had seen coworkers do so. And more than half of working parents (57%) say they would have treated their leave differently if they’d had support from their direct managers. Mandated, equal parental leave helps to lessen the shame of taking leave — and lessens the motherhood penalty by making parental leave an non-gendered and expected part of working.
Encouraging paternity leave can also help working fathers' self-esteem. Talking Talent's survey suggests that 65 percent of fathers feel they don't spend enough time with their children. Paternity leave allots time for fathers to bond with their children, support their partners, and set themselves up for parenting success.
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