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Parenting Out Loud – empowering working dads to be loud and proud about their caring responsibilities at work 

Elliott Rae, MusicFootballFatherhood

Supporting fathers to be active in their children’s lives is essential to creating well-functioning societies, businesses and families.

I am personally very happy to see more work being done in recent years to look at fatherhood experiences at work, assess how we can close the care gap, redefine gender-based parenting roles and change attitudes around what it means to be a man and a dad.

We’ve come a long way over the past couple of decades. The expectations and experiences of many new dads now are very different to what our grandads and even our own fathers encountered.

However, with all these developments, mothers still take on the vast majority of childcare and this contributes to many gender inequalities across society.

The large disparity in the gender pay gap comes about when the first baby is born into a family, and for us to address this, we need to support and encourage dads to share the caring load in the months and years after their baby is born. This also has huge positive benefits to outcomes for our children. Research from the Fatherhood Institute and Leeds University suggests that consistent paternal involvement in the early years has significant positive impacts on children’s wellbeing, education and resilience.

Involved fatherhood is also great for dads themselves. And more dads want to be active parents. According to the State of the World’s Fathers 2023 report, 85% of dads want to spend more time with their children.

And this is where Parenting Out Loud comes in.

Parenting Out Loud is a major cultural shift – it’s a significant move away from how fathers have done things for generations.

On a daily basis, Parenting Out Loud looks like dads putting school pick-ups in their calendar, using their out of office to talk about their childcare responsibilities, being open and honest about their need to work from home to take care of their sick child, taking all the paternity leave available and requesting flexible working for childcare reasons.

Supportive policies are great, they are essential. And I champion employers who offer enhanced or equal parental leave. However, policy has to be accompanied by culture change work to truly achieve the behaviour change and outcomes we aspire to.

Concerningly, a recent study by Bright Horizons found that 1 in 3 working dads don’t feel comfortable talking to their employer about family commitments though many dads want to Parent Out Loud, we can’t ask dads to do so when they exist in workplace cultures that do not support them doing so.

To build these inclusive family friendly cultures, employers need could invest in Dad networks, support leaders to be role models, provide coaching support for new dads and host organisation wide workshops and webinars to spread the message about what kind of organisation they are and want to be.

The Parenting Out Loud culture change programme supports organisations to build a workplace culture where dads can parent loudly.

The programme was launched with a billboard campaign across the London Underground in April. The aim was to reach dads on their way to work.

I think Parenting Out Loud can be transformational and we want every dad across the country to be supported to do it.

Elliott Rae is the founder of the parenting platform MusicFootballFatherhood, called the ‘Mumsnet for Dads’ by the BBC. He is the curator of the bestselling book, DAD, presenter of BBC One documentary ‘Becoming Dad’, co-founder of the Working Dads Employer Awards and creator of the Parenting Out Loud campaign which supports employers to build workplace cultures where dads can be loud and proud about their caring responsibilities at work.