CEO viewpoint: Commit to dad-friendly culture

Many organizations provide paid paternity leave to workers, but a disconnect between company policy and culture can create stress for working parents, according to Tim Allen, CEO of, a Massachusetts company that helps families find care for people and their pets. 

In a Dec. 8 op-ed for Harvard Business Review, Mr. Allen described the disconnect.

"Even while employers are increasingly offering paid paternity leave benefits , most new dads take significantly less time than their benefit allows," he wrote.

"Of the fathers who do take paid leave, 70 percent return to work in 10 days or less, according to the U.S. Labor Department . A key reason? Unsupportive leadership. In a 2019 study by the Boston College Center for Work and Family, 55 percent of men said they didn't feel extremely supported by senior management in their decision to take paternity leave."

Mr. Allen said men may feel like they must keep working and hide their responsibilities at home, which can create a stressful culture for working dads. He recommends that leaders and managers pledge to foster a dad-friendly culture. 

"We must be cognizant of the attitudes and behaviors that compound to create a stressful culture for working parents," Mr. Allen wrote. 

"So, as a leader, be vulnerable, honest, and empathetic about your life as a parent. Encourage other dads in the company to do the same. Ensure that all the parents at your organization have access to great benefits like paid leave, backup care and flexible work schedules. And make sure you use them, so that they do, too," he said. 

He said organizations that foster a dad-friendly culture "will see positive halo effects that benefit working mothers, further gender equality and improve retention."

Read the full op-ed here


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