It is a well known fact that as a working (single) mum/parent in recruitment I have been a huge advocate and supporter to all recruiter parents since I became a parent in 2004; to all of those who face daily challenges working in the recruitment sector, with plenty of organisations conforming to our ever-changing society of offering flexibility and yet sadly a number who fail to recognise the benefit of opening their doors to the ever-increasing number of parents who just happen to work in our wonderful industry.
I want to provide a caveat about this blog, this is not to disregard the millions of recruiters who are not parents obviously, it would not be helpful to alienate myself from you! However, I feel that I am a good authority on how companies can attract more working dads (as well as mums!) to their businesses and how those seeking more flexibility as a working parent can make things work for their lives and not compromise their career aspirations.
As one to ensure my perspective is informed, I asked some trusted working dads I know well what their thoughts would be on this topic and I had some interesting responses:
Mark Noakes of Kingsley Recruitment, recruiter since 1997 and dad to Alice aged 9.
“Firstly, I would ask, “Why are working dads different to working mums ?”
Well simply put they are not!
Historically and culturally it used to be down to ‘mum’ to stay at home and dad went out to work. Over the decades we have quite rightly changed this situation and also the perception and expectations of working parents.
One thing that doesn’t seem to have changed fully though is the way working dads are viewed by employers. Some are lucky, however, most are not and are still not afforded the flexibility given to working mums.
We need to remove the separation in the way working mums and dads are treated, irrespective, they are all working parents and should be treated equally.”
I have to say, I agree with Mark and think that the prejudice working dads have potentially faced in recent years is similar to the barriers working mums in recruitment also felt a decade ago. Working parents should support one another regardless of gender: we all experience similar challenges whether that’s the chicken pox with an enforced quarantine for a fortnight, a bumped head at school meaning an early dash home or the barrage of sports days/nativity plays etc to attend.
How can recruitment companies ensure they are attracting working dads to their companies?
By offering a trusting and empowered culture which allows each employee to almost set their own hours around their needs but with the same accountability: this can work very effectively when employing experienced hires and required a transparent and respected culture to make it work.
And the great thing is, it isn’t unique to working parents either: the last thing an employer wants to do is alienate its non-parent workforce and cause resentment. I would never condone positive discrimination to any party or person!
Allow your non-parents to have the same flexibility if it is needed! Allow the team to understand WHY the flexibility is being offered.
I have to ask – Does anyone really think that Joe leaving at 3pm to pick up his kids is having the “afternoon off”? Of course he isn’t: he is dashing to the school gates, picking up Gemma and Hugo, getting them back home, feeding them and getting them changed for their respective hockey and rugby matches whilst making quick calls to clients and sending emails whilst he waits in his dad taxi.
Once the bairns are tucked up in bed, he responds to all messages and calls before finally calling it a day at 930pm….. afternoon off? I don’t think so!
My 3 top tips to employees seeking to attract working dads:
- Ensure you have accountable and specific targets in place which can be measured regularly.
- Gain regular feedback on what you can do to support them in their role and provide them with reciprocal suggestions to ensure they are successful.
- Be flexible on their requirements and let the role fit around them- you will gain their loyalty, respect and commitment I promise you!
My 3 top tips to working dads seeking a more flexible and supportive employer:
- Seek out those companies owned by working parents as they are more likely to have empathy and understanding in your needs
- Set the bar: you can be the advocate so work smart and hard in the hours you do have! Become the benchmark employee regardless of being a working dad.
- Support other working parents and go off recommendations as to which companies can be there to provide you with a career opportunity and balanced life
What have your experiences been as a working dad? If you are an employer, do you tend to prefer working dads/parents? What flexible options work for you?