Increasing male paternity rights is the first step to gender equality

Increasing male paternity rights is the first step to gender equality

Increasing male paternity rights is the first step to gender equality

Put simply we have gender inequality at work because we have gender inequality at home. As long as women are the primary carer at home they will continue to cost more to employers and lag behind males in career experience. Naturally, this will affect their professional development and salaries.

As a recruiter employers open up to us to discuss the things that can’t be discussed. It is shocking how many employers are wary of or simply won’t, recruit females in their late 20’s or early 30’s. Why? Because they will cost their business more. This cost isn’t just the associated financial maternity costs but also includes lost momentum, increased risk of them not returning or returning part-time and decreased potential that they will grow into a senior work winning or leadership role. The 5-15 year experience level is critical to one’s professional development. If these years are interrupted through being the primary carer it will have an exponential negative effect on one’s progression. For example, if you take a combined 2 years' maternity leave over a 5 year period the effect on your career development will be far more than the 2 years lost. The same is true of part-time work where it can be hard to secure a role in keeping with your ability and almost impossible to progress your career.

People talk about women not getting ahead because men don’t promote women but in over 20 years I have never seen any examples of gender bias based on personalities or characteristics but rather based on circumstances and costs. Talk of alpha males promoting alpha males is, in my opinion, rare or non-existent and not helpful to the debate.

I would actually say that most employers would far rather promote and employ women. The fact remains that unfortunately, women’s salaries lag behind men’s because the amazing unpaid work they do at home does not help their professional development at work.

The solution is easy. Boys need to step up and legislation needs to change. Maternity and paternity rights must be equal. Men should grasp, and be given the opportunity to grasp, those remarkable life-changing opportunities at home as much as women do.

We are seeing improvement in legislation and I’m pleased to see gender being removed from the debate. We now have a “primary & secondary” carer. This is a step in the right direction but it will only truly work if 50% of primary carers are men. This is where society can help in celebrating those truly manly dads that step up. In Scandinavia, maternity and paternity rights are equal and can be back to back. Unsurprisingly they also have the best gender equality in the workplace. We need to follow their leadership and continue to redefine gender stereotypes. Men must have equality at home for women to have equality at work.

 

Written by Chris Tan