One Third of Men Aren’t Taking Paternity Leave. Let’s Talk About Why.

Companies are trying to remove the stigma of parental leave in the workplace, but according to a new survey, new dads aren’t complying.

 Image courtesy of Aliseenko/ Getty Images

More companies are beginning to offer new fathers paternity leave, but according to new data from a recent Deloitte survey, many working dads aren’t taking it. As reported in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, the survey looked at over 1,000 U.S. workers and found that a third of male participants feared they would be putting their careers at risk if they took days off to care for their newborn. More than half of the participants admitted that taking parental leave would send the message that they are not committed to their jobs.

The survey’s results indicate there may still be a lingering stigma surrounding parental leave, but the companies’ case for encouraging leave goes beyond the emotional component. “Companies encouraging male employees to take more paid time off say there is a compelling business case for overcoming the stigma of paternity leave,” Vanessa Fuhrmans writes. “Research indicates both men and women who take parental leave have fewer absences from work and are more productive when they return.”

While we strive to create work environments that redefine traditional standards of masculinity and welcome gender equality, it seems illogical for fathers not to take the parental leave they are encouraged to take by their companies — especially when the concept of paternity leave is becoming normalized by public figures. “Like [Facebook] CEO Mark Zuckerberg who took two months off when each of his daughters was born, male managers often post about their own paternity leave,” Fuhrmans reports. “At Twitter Inc., fathers gather quarterly for ‘Dads Lunches’ to trade parenting tips and talk through how and whether to take the full 20 weeks of paid leave the social-media firm offers.”

With more public discourse over the pressure on new moms to do it all, it makes sense that new fathers want to help out at home, taking some of the burden off of their partners. And with the encouragement dads are getting from management, it seems peculiar that the fear of looking uncommitted to work is stopping them. “If you don’t take [paternity leave], it’s borderline idiotic,” says Twitter senior client partner Bob Belciano, who helps organize the “Dads Lunches” at the company’s headquarters.

Yet, as the Deloitte survey found, that’s still our reality. To completely remove the stigma of parental leave in the workplace, employers must support both women and men in taking the time off, but simultaneously, both parents need to take the companies up on the offer. Your desk will be there when you return! 

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