Friday, 02 September 2016

This Father’s Day remember that dads face discrimination too

We often think about discrimination due to being a parent as an issue that only affects women. Almost half of all mothers report workplace discrimination at some point, but recent studies have shown men who take paternity leave or try to negotiate workplace flexibility also suffer negatively at work.

Bain and Company, in its report The Power of Flexibility: A Key Enabler to Boost Gender Parity and Employee Engagement, stated that men who work flexibly are judged negatively or suffer repercussions in their career progression.

And research by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2014 found that more than a quarter of fathers and partners interviewed had experienced discrimination related to their parental leave and return to work. (Resources for Supporting Working Parents Project fact sheet  PDF, 75KB

This is worrying for the broader issue of gender equality because, as former Swedish deputy prime minister Bengt Westerberg put it to the New York Times, "Society is a mirror of the family […] The only way to achieve equality in society is to achieve equality in the home. Getting fathers to share the parental leave is an essential part of that." 

With fewer than half of Australian organisations having a flexible workplace policy it seems we still have a long way to go.

But dads, don’t despair. Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act applies equally to mothers and fathers in protecting them from discrimination. We consistently receive complaints from fathers about discrimination at work – although not nearly as many as from mothers – and we know that there are many dads out there who don’t make a formal complaint.

We’ll continue our efforts to make flexibility at work more commonplace for both sexes, and we encourage anyone wanting to know more about their rights to contact us.

And we wish all the dads out there a very happy Father’s Day this Sunday.