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Why men need to embrace parental leave

The Grace Papers, an organisation dedicated to helping parents navigate the delicate balance between building a family and building a career, published a story in early June about why men need to embrace parental leave.

The story revealed that while fathers have been entitled to paid parental leave for close to seven years, a study published in The Telegraph shows four in 10 men are reluctant to take it because of fears it will negatively impact their careers. In much the same way women have experienced this phenomenon for decades.

“Recognising the impact of parental leave on careers and helping people to prepare for and overcome it is one of the reasons for Grace Papers’ existence,” the story said.

“New fathers, just as much as new mothers, must feel empowered to take paid parental leave without fear of negative repercussions on their professional progress. This empowerment can only be made possible with a cultural shift in the workplace.”

Here is an excerpt from The Grace Papers’ story on Adam Fennessy: [if !supportLineBreakNewLine] [endif]

When Adam Fennessy, a husband, father of three and partner at EY became a dad for the first time over 12 years ago, he was working as a public servant. Adam knew he wanted to spend time with his children, and one of Adam’s colleagues, a part-time executive herself, asked him if he’d consider working part-time after the birth of his children.

“I was worried I’d find it embarrassing or that it would affect my career, but my colleague challenged me on that,” Adam tells us.

Unfortunately not all colleagues were so supportive.

“When I told my boss that I wanted to spend more time with my children, he said ‘well there goes your career’. I received push back at every stage. In the end, I voted with my feet and left.”

In subsequent roles, Adam continued to work part-time and worked his way up through the ranks. By the time he became Secretary (CEO equivalent) of his organisation, he made all roles flexible.

Adam is now a partner at EY and is proud of the work the business does to support flexibility at all levels of seniority.

EY are a great example of achieving cultural change in the workplace, having run a number of successful initiatives in recent years to raise awareness among its employees of its Australian offices.

One initiative included a ‘Flextober’ campaign, which raised awareness among all staff as to the benefits of working flexibly, both to the organisation and at an individual level.

EY are also big supporters of Grace Papers and encourage all fathers-to-be to take our Dads’ Program to help male employees understand the benefits of working flexibly and empower them to have the right conversations about their careers, at the right time.

Between 2015 and 2017, EY have increased the number of men taking up flexible working by 47.5% - a remarkable achievement!

Crunching the numbers on the progress we’re making isn’t clear cut, but two of the clear signs that we’re on the track to is more dads taking paid parental leave, and more senior roles being performed flexibly.

When it comes to championing gender equality in the workplace, including enabling others to take up their right to paid parental leave and encouraging an environment where flexible working is the norm, were all responsible. Read The Grace Papers' full interview with Adam Fenessy here

Prue Gilbert, CEO and Founder of The Grace Papers was a speaker at last year’s RCSA Annual Conference. There is no doubt the topic of parental leave and gender diversity will be major talking points at this year’s conference to be held on Noosa, September 5-7. Will you be included in the conversation? For more on the conference and to make bookings visit the website.

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