Well, it's that time of year again. Working Mother Magazine (Oct. 2008) has come out with its annual list of the 100 Best Family-Friendly Companies (not available online). To be honest, I didn't even look at the list. I have become skeptical about such lists in recent years with what appears to be positioning by employers to accentuate their family-friendly policies sans the real culture change necessary to make the programs accessible to all employees. However, I do like the idea of companies extolling their family-friendly policies if for no other reason than to keep people thinking about what life might be like with more flexibility from their employers.
In this same issue of the magazine, what I did read in its entirety was the article called 'Good for the Gander.' It examines why fathers don't take paternity leave even if it is offered to them. The main explanation is because they are afraid to be "daddy tracked." I can't even dispute this notion since I believe there is still a cultural expectation against dads getting too involved in the caretaking of children. But the article doesn't stop there. It suggests some of the many benefits that can be gained by dads getting more involved, including:
- Everyone gains. Men and women are less stressed about child care. Companies get more productive employees as a result.
- Men and women become equally competent as parents, allowing them each to pursue outside interests while the children are cared for by a loving parent.
The article continues by pointing out that "family demands don't end after maternity leave." I couldn't agree more. In fact, I would be happy to forego a paternity leave, and maternity leave for that matter (beyond the medical recovery period), if a long term solution could be put in place from the beginning with both parents getting equal opportunities to care for the children and pursue their careers. This article also covers some of the cultural barriers to flexible work by highlighting a few senior managers who are vocal about the benefits of dads getting more involved at home.
Keep up the good work Working Mother. You may want to consider launching another magazine called Working Parent!