From the editor: What’s in a name?

The dad-genda or the dad-ifesto? What do these terms mean and why does it matter what we call the campaign for better work life balance for fathers?

 

One of the great things about this job is that I get to talk to people interested in the same stuff I am.

Go to a party and start wanging on about flexible working and Shared Parental Leave and you often get a roll of the eyes. Dads and mums often find it easier to stick to stereotypes than think about how and why they divvy domestic duties.

But in my professional capacity it’s a different matter.

Last week workingmums hosted a round table discussion about dads in the workplace. (You might think we at workingdads ought to have hosted that one but if you think about it working mums benefit as much as working dads from more progessive family policies). Lots of issues kept coming up – making it easier to ask for Shared Parental Leave, baking flexibility into jobs, childcare. You can register for the White Paper that will cover everything that was discussed here.

And this week I spent over an hour at the Barbican in conversation over coffee with a coach who’ll be writing for me on the site in the coming weeks and months. It was a fruitful exchange of anecdote and opinion. Topics discussed included how to find a job share partner, why jobs need to be designed from the beginning to accommodate flexible working, what it means to be a good dad, and whether men and women should join separate or mixed networking groups.

Family friendly agenda

But we hit a brick wall. What were we talking about? I’ve explained what we were talking about – but what’s the overarching term for it? What’s the word that sums up all these topics that are in one sense very different but tied together by the fact they all feed into making work more family friendly, particularly for dads.

The Dad-genda? The Agendad? I asked social media for ideas and received suggestions like the Pa-genda, dadminstration and the dadifesto. Project Papa appeals to my alliterative tabloid background but doesn’t explain all the different facets of this project/agenda/space. ‘How’s your father’ was just a silly suggestion. But it came via LinkedIn exploding that particular social media’s reputation as equal parts professional and po-faced.

You may ask, does it matter?

You wouldn’t be surprised, given I posed the question, that I’d say yes.

Talent retention

There is real heft behind this project/agenda/space/cause. At that same round table representatives from big companies confirmed what research has suggested – they can’t keep hold of talent unless they offer flexible working. Men want better parental pay and leave.

In the last week we’ve featured two apposite case studies on the site. One of a man who had a good appraisal and chose more holiday rather than more pay as a reward because he wants more time with his family. The other a man who couldn’t conceive of only taking two weeks paternity leave and quit his company when they rejected his request for flexible working.

This is real. But in order to take it forward it needs to be easily digestible, easy to explain to an audience who are not necessarily engaged in either the broader themes or the nitty gritty detail.

Feminism

Feminism may be a contested term these days. But everyone has a rough idea of what it covers  – equality in law at the very least, equality in action and of opportunity if you take it on further. You can argue over its usefulness as a term (personally I like it and wear it as a badge of pride) but it’s better than a fudge like the project/agenda/space/cause.

Of course having asked for help and received decent responses but nothing killer the answer I realised was staring me in the face. It’s just a matter of working to get it adopted more widely.

The space we’re in, the cause we espouse, the project we’re undertaking, the agenda we promote can be summed up in two words: working dads.





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