A lot of people say family comes first, but not everyone makes it a condition in their job interview. Yesterday, Congressman Paul Ryan released a statement outlining his conditions to run for Speaker of the House, and working dads should take note of condition number three:
"I cannot and will not give up my family time," he writes. "I may not be able to be on the road as much as previous speakers, but I pledged to make up for it with more time communicating our message."
Like many parents, Ryan is looking for work-life balance and wants to be there for his family on weekends.
"Work-life balance is not just a working mom thing, it's a working dad thing, too," says Jennifer Owens, editorial director for Working Mother Media. "I applaud [Paul Ryan] for setting a good example by making this request a condition of employment."
While Ryan is in a powerful position to leverage his work-life arrangements, he sends a message to working families and their employers that dads are putting an increasing importance on the commitment they have to their families.
"For 36 years, Working Mother has been talking about flexibility for moms, but those questions are newer for dads," says Owens. "The number of families with two working parents continues to rise, and there is no one at home to take the entire burden of family responsibility. We have to juggle and respect each other's work needs."
When Working Mother started its annual 100 Best Companies report 30 years ago, there was no paternity leave. The company recently released its How Men Flex Report and found:
- 77 percent report having flexible work schedules
- 79 percent feel comfortable using flex
- 62 percent say their employers can and do encourage flex
- 68 percent have the ability to influence their schedule and do so without fear of negative consequences
- 47 percent have a formal flex arrangement with their employer
"We see a lot of companies offering great policies and programs, but something resonates on frontline when a leader role-models behavior and takes paternity leave or uses flex time," says Owens. "Men overall will recognize what [Ryan's] saying, and it adds to the working dads conversation. It's always good when we see we are not alone in needing accommodations, and it makes us all more comfortable talking about these things when it's important to someone in a position like Paul Ryan."
While moms have to be concerned with the mommy track and unconscious bias, men are overcoming their own stigmas around putting family first, says Owens. At a previous job, her husband asked his boss to leave early to pick up their child from school and was told, "A man's job is to be the breadwinner. That's what real men do."
Today, more and more new dads are demanding flextime and using it. "A working dad has a role as a provider, but he also has a role as parent," says Owens." The business of family is a lot, and so we're consistently finding ways to integrate both.
"There should be no diminishment in your career because you're devoted to your family. As Speaker, Paul Ryan would be the third most powerful leader in federal government, and his saying his role at home is important-that it's part of his life-is powerful."