It's often said that the U.S. and the U.K. are two countries separated by a common language. Turns out they're also united by a common problem: working fathers trying to gain acceptance as family caregivers. Dads on both sides of the pond, particularly Millennial working fathers, are eager to make their mark both as parents and employees, and they're speaking loudly about their desires to be fully present in their children's lives. In fact, growing numbers of dual-earner couples are altering the traditional model of family life, with roughly half of couples with young children in both countries having two parents in the workforce. But Bright Horizons' Modern Family Index shows societal structures are failing to keep up.
Modern Working Fathers Old-Fashioned WorldSurveys of thousands of employees in the U.S. and the U.K. show that for men in both countries, dad as caregiver remains a tough sell. "Society may have professed enlightenment back in the 1960s," says Bright Horizons CHRO Dan Henry, "but we're still pretty safely pigeonholed in our stereotypical roles." A big part may well be management's failures to recognize modern-day shifting priorities. Dan says he sees more and more dads who want to leave a home legacy as much as or more than a work legacy. But not all corporate leaders are seeing the signs, with many seemingly stuck in a traditional world. In fact, managers in the U.S. Modern Family Index put careers at the top of dad's list of concerns, but dads themselves told us that in reality, career issues came in second to worries about work/life balance. And those kinds of disconnects are fueling outdated policies regarding things like time off. In the U.K., more than half of both working fathers and mothers believe it's harder for dads than moms to take time off to care for children. And those beliefs are likely the source of dishonesty in the ranks:
- Roughly a third of both U.S. and U.K. dads have faked being sick to care for families
- A quarter of U.S. dads and a third of U.K dads have lied to employers about family responsibilities
- A third of dads in both countries are afraid to be upfront about family responsibilities