Gone are the days when organisations boasted of having friendly policies in place to help working mothers straddle their personal and professional commitments. The corporate world today realises that the male employees, especially the fathers also need help to play good husbands and fathers.
The annual survey that results in the Working Mother 100 Best Companies list decided to focus on working fathers this year. In doing so, it came to light that certain progressive organisations have recognised and accepted the fact that fathers also nurture the desire to be actively involved in the upbringing of their children, and that this cannot be accomplished without the support of the employers.
This support in helping fathers, especially millennial fathers, excel at fatherhood also ends up benefitting the mothers and their family life, in general. And the good news is that 35 organisations made it to the first list of Working Mother’s Best Companies for Dads.
So how did these organisations end up being father-friendly?
• Almost all the companies surveyed offer fully-paid paternity leave (with an average of nine weeks).
• Hundred per cent of the organisations provide fully paid adoption leave, with an average of 10 weeks.
• Financial benefits for in-vitro fertilisation (86 per cent of the companies surveyed), with some covering use of a surrogate as well (49 per cent) is a great benefit.
• 97 per cent offer aid for autistic children, while 74 per cent offer support for children with cancer.
• Backup childcare is offered by 97 per cent when regular childcare is unavailable.
• A significant number (83 per cent) offer backup in-home childcare.
• 77 per cent provide childcare for sick children
• Employee resource groups are offered by 83 per cent, for the benefit of parents as well as caregivers and 20 per cent have groups for men in particular.
• Option of flexible hours is availed by 85 per cent of men in these organisations.
• Telecommuting is an accepted practice by 82 per cent of men in these companies.
The most attractive incentives seem to be the following:
Paid parental leave
Ernst & Young, a founding sponsor of Working Mother’s Best Companies for Dads, has been known to offer 16 weeks of paid parental leave to men and women employees, irrespective of the manner of parenthood. Since the introduction of the revised 16 week parental leave policy in 2016, 42 per cent of the men in the Company have availed it all.
Naturally, the men respect this support from the employers, as it helps them experience and enjoy fatherhood to the hilt, without having to worry about professional commitments. When fathers contribute actively at home with childcare, it becomes possible for the working mothers to think of rejoining work and not sacrificing their careers at the altar of motherhood.
Unilever, another organisation that made it to the list, not only offers men parental leave but also the option of flexible hours, even to the newer employees. This kind of opportunity to achieve work–life balance is what attracts people to the Company. There are new fathers in the organisation who are able to take a day off by extending their hours of work during the week, allowing them to spend quality time with their children, and giving some relief to their wives in the process.
RSM, yet another company that features in the list is committed to flexibility. Charles Barley Jr., principal, risk advisory services group, RSM , says “I take advantage of the flexibility policies by encouraging work–life integration among my team members. I also feel confident that my colleagues will support me and help out when I need to focus on the home front.”
The flexibility was particularly helpful to Barley, with five children to take care of. “My oldest is a high-school senior and I have needed to step away and take him all up and down the East Coast for various college visits,” he says. “My youngest are six-year-old twins and I have been able to attend various doctor appointments and school conferences.”
Such flexibility allows employees to take time off to rejuvenate, relax, and spend quality time with their family, and settle in to new parenthood with ease.
Financial aid for surrogacy
MetLife, another founding sponsor, introduced a Surrogacy Assistance Programme last year, wherein it offers to reimburse employees the costs incurred in surrogacy— up to $5,000 annually per child. The Company offers the benefit to the primary caregivers, as it realises that flexibility is the right step in the direction of allowing employees to actively participate and experience the growth of their children.
MetLife realises that without a cultural shift and a change in the mindset of the employees, it will not be possible for everyone to realise that fatherhood, just like motherhood, is an experience that needs to be enjoyed and celebrated.