This International Women’s Day, let’s focus on fathers.

March 7, 20242 Min Read

(yep, you read that right)

Don’t get us wrong, we love conversations about how we can support women in the workplace and shake up the old systems that hold them back. But sometimes it can feel like we’re talking in circles. This International Women’s Day, we want to highlight another piece of the puzzle: for mothers to be able to lead at work, fathers need to feel like they can step up and take on more responsibilities at home.

Phrases like the “motherhood penalty” can make women feel like they’re somehow to blame for societal inequalities and that it’s incumbent on us to fix it. But real change requires a shift in how we think and action from all genders. It’s about dismantling harmful stereotypes and creating environments where both men, women and non-binary parents are empowered to thrive, both at work and at home. It’s a no-brainer. To create the equality we want to see, we’ve got to challenge traditional gender roles that have been holding us all back for way too long. We recognize that there are positive shifts in the workplace that are paving the way for a more equitable future. Paternity leave, top-ups, and flexible work options are instrumental to supporting both men and women.

Despite the good intentions behind workplace policies that promote gender equity, the data still shows a massive gap. It will still take 100 years to achieve equity in the workplace (World Economic Forum). A big part of the problem is that people aren’t taking full advantage of these policies particularly paternity leave, like they should.

Why? It comes down to gender norms from decades gone by that are still hanging around. Paternity leave and flexible work options are there for the taking, but many men still feel pressure to keep their noses to the grindstone instead of taking time for family. Only 24% of men in Canada believe it’s their job to take paternity leave (IPSOS 2019). For women, they might hold back from using support systems because they’re worried about being judged for not fitting into traditional roles.

The policies are there, but people just don’t feel like they can or should make use of them. This disconnect shows us that equity in the workplace is not just about having the right policies in place: we’ve also got to shake things up, challenge stereotypical gender norms and redefine the roles that men and women play both at home and at work.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let’s keep pushing for progress together. Let’s invite fathers into the conversation and keep chipping away at those old stereotypes and creating a world where everyone, regardless of gender, has the chance to thrive, now and in the future.

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