Paternity leave, gender equality and the changing role of fathers

Greg Canty and Brendan Canty

I listened with interest at the discussions about the new proposals regarding paternity leave and I fondly remembered (not!) how it was when my kids were born.

It was August, 1991 and Ellen, our second child was due. It was a busy time in work at that time of the year with my role as Financial Controller as I had to get all budgeting finalised for the following year. We were part of Guinness so it was a complex process.

I knew that when Ellen was born I wanted a little free time to enjoy the moment(s) and to be there to look after my son, Brendan who was two and a half at the time. I worked day and night and weekends leading up to that time so that when she was born there would be no issue and I could take a few days off.

Ellen was overdue and a date was set for her to be induced. I informed my boss,  Charlie of the date and he wasn’t very pleased as he was planning a management meeting on that date!

What could I do?

The hospital had a gap in their scheduling and Ellen was induced a day earlier ….my beautiful daughter arrived on the 21st August!!

My childminding role kicked in for the next few days. Two days later I popped into the office to check a few things and I was stupidly expecting a round of “congratulations” from all of my workmates.

Instead I got a serious look from the Sales Manager..”You’re in trouble“. I was dumbfounded at what I heard.

What the hell could I be in trouble for and by the way it was a girl!!” I responded.

It turns out that because Ellen was born a day earlier everyone reckoned I could and should have made the “crucial” management meeting. I grabbed Brendan and we left.

A day or two later I was back in work and was summoned to Charlie’s office ..I don’t think I even gave him a chance to open his mouth.

He got it full belt “I always put this stupid place first and this time you can well and truly f**k yourself as it is one time I am putting my family first” and stormed out. I don’t think we ever spoke about the incident again.

Two years ago in Fuzion we had our first ‘baby‘!

A few months before that one of our team announced that she was pregnant. While it was fantastic news for her and her husband, it did cause an issue for the business. She was a senior member of the team and now we had to plan about replacing her with a quality replacement.

She would be out for 6 months and she also planned on taking the extra two months. I also learnt that while she would be out she was entitled to holidays and bank holidays, so effectively she would be out for 9 months. This would be disruptive to the business as well as costing us – it was the most expensive baby I ever had!

This is life and our business had to make arrangements and cope but it did strike me that this ‘issue‘ was one that we had to solve with her. Where was the guy in this equation? Was his work disrupted or would it carry a cost for them?

Maybe she was more than happy to put her career on hold for a while and take off that precious time with her new baby but maybe she might have liked to share this gift with her husband? No one had a choice.

I imagined a different world where her husband announced to his boss that “they” were pregnant and that he was opting to take half of the parental leave. This is how it works in Denmark so it isn’t such a stretch.

I’m a dad and I’m a parent and I would have loved to have those precious days when Ellen was born back again to enjoy…maybe more than a few days?

If we are serious about the guys role as a parent and we are really serious about gender equality then us fellas need to be treated as equals.

Two weeks paternity leave..nah!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

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8 Responses to “Paternity leave, gender equality and the changing role of fathers”

  1. Fergal Bell Says:

    A set amount of parental leave that can be divided between the couple would be a much better system.

    It would allow fathers more time to bond with their kids. If Mark Zuckerberg can take a few months off, I’m sure that Tom the sales rep can do it.

    In addition, it might lessen discrimination against women, both at the recruitment and promotion stages. After all, if both men and women are out of the office when kids are born, pregnancy would almost become a non-issue.

    • Greg Canty Says:

      Spot on Fergal …that’s what I am thinking! Thanks for the feedback

      • Fergal Bell Says:

        You’re very welcome – great minds!

        By the way, I meant to mention that I noticed how in the past I used to get an email notification when there was a new comment on a post I had replied to, but these don’t seem to come through any more. I click on the boxes I’ve always clicked on, but it doesn’t seem to make too much of a difference. Perhaps there’s been a change in the way the provider manages the system.

      • Greg Canty Says:

        That’s weird … I’ve made no change to the settings. WordPress have changed a few things lately so maybe this is one of the settings that has got scrambled

      • Fergal Bell Says:

        That could be it. It’s only a small thing, but it puts the brakes on the conversation.

      • Greg Canty Says:

        thanks Fergal

  2. Christine collins Says:

    Very good speech and so true to life

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