Earlier this year we undertook a large scale research programme looking at emerging tensions in the workplace for dads.
Why? Well, because while more and more dads are actively involved in day to day parenting, we knew that workplaces as a whole were still someway off the same pace of change.
We wanted to find out just how much and partnered with Deloitte in creating The Millennial Dad at Work – A comprehensive study of the work/life balance issues affecting today’s generation of dads at work.
The results were staggering:
- 59% of working fathers want employers to provide more flexible working and almost half say that improving paternity leave is vital
- 37% admit that their mental health is negatively affected as a result of trying to balance work and parental responsibilities
- One third of new dads have already changed jobs since becoming a father with another third actively looking to change
All of this has been pointing to something much bigger that needs to be done for dads at work.
Dads need a different type of solution at work
If we’re going to challenge and change the perception of dads at work, and thus, their experiences, then we need to start to look at different solutions that will lead to real change.
One of the biggest barriers we found was a certain level of ‘generational tension’ – where dads in senior positions who weren’t as involved in day to day parenting themselves (and now likely have older children too), struggle to empathise with the new dads in their teams and organisations who now do.
It’s this sense of “well, I didn’t do it like that, so why should you?”
What that means is that dads, who let’s face it aren’t always the best at being vulnerable at work, don’t feel that they can have the necessary type of conversations with people who would be traditionally thought of as mentors at work.
A partnership for change
Just after the Millennial Dad at Work was launched we had the pleasure of meeting Nicki from The Parent Mentor, and Nadia from Avenir Consulting. Both were incredibly passionate about changing things for dads at work.
Through this partnership, Dad Connect was born.
As Nicki Seignot outlined in her Linkedin post, our ambition was big and bold:
Our ambition was to create a movement; by bringing together working dads as mentors inspiring possibilities and change for a whole new generation of new fathers in the workplace. In turn, the hope would be that these dads had potential to become the next generation of mentors.
Dad Mentoring – Pilot and Process
We have recently completed our Dad Connect Pilot where:
- We paired new fathers with experienced fathers from other organisations.
- Our mentors who were all working dads, changemakers, offering fresh perspectives. They are also the ones pushing boundaries, and role modelling for what might be.
- Supporting participants with workshops, reviews and on-line forums,
The Dad Connect mentors and mentees worked together over a five month period. At our celebration event we were blown away by the level of insight and feedback.
Results and reflections
66% of all participants scored the programme a 10/10 in terms of whether they would recommend it to a new father. The rest scored it a 9/10.
The reflections from mentees and mentors have been just as valuable. A couple of examples as follows:
- “Mentoring made me realise the power of talking and going back to my wife and having regular conversations about how we’re feeling and what’s stressing us out.”
- “You sometimes need to voice your concerns, be heard, and receive encouragement and advice from a believable person – Dad Connect provided that.”
At a time where there has been much debate around true gender balance at work, getting the approach right for dads we believe, is going to be one of the key enablers to ensure we’re creating true equity and equality for…all parts of modern day family to thrive.
As Nadia Nagamootoo comments: “To some extent I think we’ve forgotten that inclusion means everyone. Dad Connect fills a much needed gap to support fathers. Equality can only be achieved in the workplace if we achieve equality at home too. Our programme offers organisations a way of facilitating this process”.
As a final thought – I just wanted to thank all the mentors and mentee dads who have been a part of Dad Connect so far. We’re all pioneering something truly impactful, and it wouldn’t be possible without you.
Dad Connect has confirmed the central value of taking a gendered approach to mentoring. We found the lexicon of dads, their challenges, questions and concerns were quite specific to fatherhood and distinct from the maternity journey. They bring their shared experiences as fathers to mentoring and that’s the magic ingredient. Dads mentoring dads to enable change.’ (Nicki, The Parent Mentor)