As my husband and I prepare to be first time parents in just under 11 weeks, one topic that is at the top of our list is childcare. How much time should be take out of our careers? what do we do when we both go back to work?
The surprising thing for me has been how opinionated (and often judgmental) people can be about the options we are considering.
I expected in today's modern Britain, and even more progressive London, there would be a 'live and let live attitude'. But in fact, many old school predjudicies and attitudes come to the fore.
Shared parental leave is a great option, and one that @joedgoldberg and I are going to use. But other things need to progress too. Company attitudes to flexible working, pathways back in to the workplace, financial equality both in salaries and in paternity pay.... But most important is the softer side - that support and encouragement for whatever soon-to-be or new parents decide to do. Support, not judgement, for how long the mother decided to take out. Support, not judgement, for a father who wants an equal role in childcare. And, support, not judgement, for parents who think their career is important to their ability to support their family. That softer side can go a long way to driving culture change in the UK at the same time as we address the policy side.
Putting the option in place for fathers to take leave is only half the battle. Even when it’s there, there are barriers to taking it. Companies can take a lead on helping to change that sticky culture—it they want to.