October 23, 2018

EY Offers Its Fathers 6 Weeks Paid Paternity Leave, But Do Dads Actually Take It?

We've been on an "inclusiveness" kick lately and I'd apologize for that except Colin told me never apologize therefore I will not.

You will recall a previous discussion we had about EY's Inclusiveness Officer (*gag*) boldly shilling to the Huffington Post about dudes' need for flexibility. We're surprised she didn't take the opportunity then to trot out EY's 6 weeks of paid leave for new dads, unless that's a new development?

Just in time for Father's Day, EY sponsored a study by Boston College that found working dads want their time off with newborns too.

“Most fathers in our survey felt that between two to four weeks of paid paternity leave is an appropriate amount, considering both work and family obligations,” said the study's lead author Brad Harrington “although some men seek more as they take on the role of primary caregiver. Organizations that want to retain their best talent must acknowledge that fathers are playing a more active role in their families, and consider paternity leave as an essential benefit. This issue is highly connected to women’s advancement, as men being more active in caregiving can have a tremendous impact on women's ability to succeed and thrive in the workplace.”

Cue the grandstanding from the press release:

Ernst & Young LLP, the sponsor of the Boston College study, is an example of a business that offers — and benefits from — paid paternity leave. Ernst & Young LLP provides its dads up to 6 weeks of fully-paid paternity leave.

“Between 500 and 600 plus men at our firm take paid parental leaves each year — which is roughly consistent with the number of women who take paid parental leaves annually,” said Karyn Twaronite, partner of Ernst & Young LLP and the EY Americas Inclusiveness Officer. “An internal survey recently revealed that our working parents expressed the highest levels of engagement among all US professionals. The business case for benefits like paid paternity leave is clear to us. We are pleased that the progressive men in our workforce consistently utilize it over time and increasingly express a desire for flexibility.”

There are 31,000 people at EY in the U.S. according to this, so that means 2% or so of those are men taking paid parental leave. If that number is "roughly consistent" with the number of women taking paid parental leaves, we're talking 4 or 5% of all EY staff in the U.S. — is that the definition of consistent utilization?

As someone said in our comments, it's not so much offering paid leave that it is the problem, it's the perception if you actually take it:

My wife and I had a baby in November, and multiple people asked me whether or not I got "paternity leave". I thought that was the funniest question ever. I think technically I could take FMLA, but I would never dream of even taking it. I can't imagine the reaction I would get.

I will say that some of that attitude is probably male perpetuated, however. On the same token, if a male coworker took FMLA for paternity leave I would definitely partake in a little joking at their expense.

But hey, that's not the firm's problem. It's there if dads want it.

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