Making Workplaces Better for Dads

Chinese dad in front of a laptop, drinking a mug his infant son is helping to hold to him.

Photo Credit: champpixs

In the past, we’ve spoken about how workplaces can improve to be supportive of mothers. For Father’s Day, we’re focusing on how we can improve the lives of employees who are fathers as well, because we believe that everyone entering parenthood should have an employer who understands and accommodates for the challenges that come with entering that new role.

Offer Paternity Leave

The state of paid parental leave in the United States is dismal, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that only about a quarter of civilian and private industry workers having access to paid family leave in 2021. This presents financial obstacles for the household and cuts into crucial bonding time with the new baby. Without paid maternity leave, one in four mothers return to work postpartum and suffer physically, mentally, and emotionally. For fathers, the issue of parental leave is also complex. In Pew Research’s 2016 Survey of U.S. Adults, one in seven respondents felt that men shouldn’t take parental leave whether it’s paid or not. This stigma, in combination with the fact that, “only 13 percent of private sector workers are employed at worksites that offer paid paternity leave to all male employees,” leads to three out of four fathers taking a week or less off after their child is born. This is to the detriment of all fathers, who lose out important quality time with their child and adjustment to their new role. U.S.-based employers should follow the example of the 63% of countries who provide paid paternity leave, and be a true example of how we must value fathers culturally and in the workplace.

Incorporate Changing Tables in Men’s Restrooms

Socially, women are presumed caretakers over men.  In fact, men receive praise for performing parental duties that women do regularly. One such parental duty is changing diapers. While the vast majority of dads have changed diapers (a dramatic increase since 1982), our structures are not reflecting this change. Pampers found that, “9 out of 10 dads have gone into a public restroom that has not had a baby changing table.” Both for visitors and employees who may need to bring their children into these buildings, employers should install changing tables into these restrooms, both to make diaper-changing options equitable and to reinforce that childcare is a shared responsibility between parents.

Offer Resources for New Fathers

Entering fatherhood is a major life event, and it can be daunting to step into such a major change. Some new fathers experience poor mental health symptoms like depression after their baby is born, and as such should be able to rely on their employer’s mental health coverage to help make those symptoms more manageable. Another type of resource an employer may consider partnering with, or at least having the contacts for, is parenting coaching for new fathers. Most importantly, employers should make it clear to all new parents that they will be receptive to conversations at any time about what sort of resources and accommodations are needed to help create successful parents and households.

Allow for Flexible Schedules

Whether a father has a baby, a child, or a teenager, fathers have a responsibility to their children throughout their lifetimes that can lead to scheduling conflicts. Parents of children with disabilities in particular have needs for understanding and accommodating employers. Allowing for a flexible work schedule for fathers, that also allows for fathers to complete their duties on an agreed upon time, will both increase employee satisfaction while also honoring the role that fathers should play in their family’s day to day lives.

Embrace Fatherhood for LGBTQ+ Couples

Too often, our society imagines impending fatherhood within the parameters of heterosexual couplings. Becoming a parent within an LGBTQ+ couple is as legitimate of a parental transition, and these working parents have their own needs that should be accommodated for. From a benefits perspective, employers should ensure that their benefits encompass all family-building paths. This includes parental leave for parents who pursue surrogacy or adoption. Since , it would be a real statement this Father’s Day to affirm these fathers by broadening paid parental leave policies in this way.

 From a work environment perspective, employers should maintain a commitment to DEI to reinforce their commitment to a healthy, safe workplace for everyone. There should be an emphasis on LGBT-inclusive language, and LGBT parents (including LGBTQ+ fathers) should feel confident that workplace policy has a zero-tolerance policy for any harassment relating to their identity and their role as a new parent. With June being Pride Month, this would be an excellent time to re-examine such policies, and RALIANCE would be happy to partner with you for a policy review should you choose to go down that path.

Parents work every day, every hour of the year, yet they often do not receive that acknowledgement. Let us all pledge that this Father’s Day is just the start of a continued commitment in the workplace to support employees who are fathers everywhere.

RALIANCE is a trusted adviser for organizations committed to building cultures that are safe, equitable, and respectful. RALIANCE offers unparalleled expertise in serving survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse which drives our mission to help organizations across sectors create inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit


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