In addition to the individual stories being shared for the Father’s Day blog festival for MomsRising.org, I wanted to provide an overall discussion of the rapidly changing role of men in this discussion around a workplace supportive of employees and their family responsibilities. Often when there is excellent discourse around the role of working mothers in the workplace and the ways that corporations can fully support this segment of the work force, so often the men who are also now taking an increasing role in family life are forgotten.
As a long time diversity professional and consultant, I would like to make some observations and assertions:
1. Over the past few decades, men have taken an increasing level of participation in family responsibilities. This can include attending children’s events, handling children’s emergencies and even staying home with small children. In addition men are taking on a more active role of caring for aging parents.
2. However, men often feel the pressure at work that it is not as acceptable for them to take time off to care for family matters. There are still some business leaders who may excuse a woman who needs to leave the office for a family emergency since that is “the role of a mother,” but who look down on a man who needs similar time off. Often the perception is that the man’s role is to be in the office from early morning until the end of the day, and they a man who takes time off to be with family must not care about his career.
3. So we should really promote this growing equalization of men and women taking on family responsibility. For those families that are fortunate to have both a mother and a father, a healthy family relationship can be built between children and both parents when both parents take equal time and responsibility with the children.
4. Finally, the definition of family is become more broad and diverse, which also needs to be recognized in the workplace. There are an increasing number of single fathers raising children as well as same-gender male couples with kids. In fact, from the 2000 to the 2010 census, there was a 47% increase in same-gender couples raising children.
I applaud the efforts of MomsRising.org and other similar organizations that work with companies to promote more family-friendly workplace practices to support working women in their families. And certainly these efforts will also benefit those working men who are increasingly involved in family care.
This post is part of the Fathers on Family Leave Blog Carnival.