How often do men put “Taking child to pediatrician” or “Lunch with daughter” on their work calendar?
We put parental milestones – middle-school graduation – and sporting events – soccer finals – on our calendars.
Lunch with a college friend or former colleague? Totally acceptable.
Even quasi-work trips (f.k.a boondoggles) go on the work calendar. “OOO-Pebble Beach ‘Conference’,” anyone?
But for many men, being transparent at work about daily parenting – as opposed to event parenting – is not something they do openly.
Last week at Mother Honestly’s “Start to Flourish” conference in Brooklyn, I got to speak about this on a panel entitled “Flourish Together.” Blessing Adesiyan, who founded MH, is doing some incredibly important work, with working moms and within companies. I was thrilled she asked me to participate.
It was a good place to listen and learn from different thinkers on work. These three really resonated:
“Remote work improves the quality of life,” said Natalie Mayslich. “There’s been a foundational shift among employer-employee relationships. But there’s more that an employer can do.”
From Mita Mallick: “Do the right thing and you’re going to gain so much more loyalty. Don’t ask me if I have more PTO when my child is sick.”
“Remote work is leveling the playing field,” Blessing said. “Men are actually doing more now. And when men lean into care, employers lean into care.”
But as much as I was invigorated by the discussion, I was bothered that men have been so slow in making their voice heard. This workplace battle that affects the whole family and spills over to the company is still being waged primarily by working moms – in 2022.
I know a lot of men who were go-to-work dads before the pandemic but came to relish being with their families while working remotely. I can’t think of one who is eager to give up that balance.
But thinking something and speaking it can be difficult. Yet I worry that not acting could lead to a gradual erosion of flexible work rights.
Where do I think men should start? Pushing companies to create employee resource groups (ERGs) for dads.
Having these groups for men will bring attention to three areas that will help all employees.
2) It will give working moms allies and broaden the base of workers advocating for change.
And 3) it will begin to remove the stigma around working moms always being the go-to parents.
Of course, if there’s corporate resistance, then men just being transparent on their work calendars would be a step in the right direction.