A global network focused on women in the creative industries, SheSays, has now launched a campaign calling on firms to shift their parental leave and pay benefits for working dads.
While the British government introduced a shared parental leave and pay policy in 2015, SheSays says most businesses are focusing on advocating the benefits of parental leave only to mothers, meaning that uptake by fathers has been minimal. This is remarkably out of step with the policy itself: the changes mean both parents are able to share up to 50 weeks leave and 37 weeks of pay between them.
Running online and across social media, the #ShareBaby campaign targets creative businesses and implores them to offer and actively promote these benefits to their male employees. SheSays is set to showcase all companies that take the pledge on the #ShareBaby website- broadcasting the firms’ names to SheSays’ 40,000 members in 40 cities across the world, labeling them with the envious title of being good places to work for progressive couples.
The Nuffield Foundation found that fathers are twice as likely as mothers to have their requests for flexible working arrangements rejected. In the advertising industry specifically, while almost a third of working dads surveyed had requested a change in their working hours, only 33% of those requests were ultimately successful.
Says Fabiana Xavier, president of SheSays London, “Not only will ‘#ShareBaby’ give parents the choice on how they parent, we hope that it will also begin to reduce discrimination against women of childbearing age and the belief they have to sacrifice their career for a family.
“It will also remove the stigma of men taking time off work to care for their children, enabling them to feel more comfortable about wanting to stay at home for longer than two weeks or [be] a full-time stay-at-home parent. Overall, we hope to be able to highlight that both men and women can continue to thrive in their careers while also being parents.”
In the US, only a tiny percentage of parents make use of parental leave, typically due to barriers like the financial hit to the household, concerns about the impact of such leave on careers, and an overall lack of awareness. It doesn’t help that the United States is one of the three remaining countries on earth that does not have a federal policy mandating paid maternity leave; the others are Papua New Guinea and Oman.
Still, as the conversation both online and offline regarding paid parental leave reaches new heights, more American companies seem to be announcing changes. In 2015, telecommunications giant Vodafone said its 30 companies around the world must provide 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, with women to work 30 hours a week on a full-time salary for another six months after that.
The power of digital marketing to facilitate societal shifts should never be underestimated, and the impact of #ShareBaby is sure to be a step in the right direction.