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Businesses hold dads back when it comes to family, finds BT and ENEI

A report from BT and the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion (ENEI), found that despite fathers having a greater role in raising their children, employers fall short of offering them the support they need.

The findings reveal while one in two fathers (49%) say they do the majority or an equal share of the childcare, two thirds (67%) don't think their employers have sufficient family friendly policies.

Caroline Waters, director of people and policy at BT and chair of Employers for Fathers, said: "As fathers are now more involved in childcare and an essential part of the workforce, it makes sense for employers to do more to understand what they need if they're going to continue to attract and retain great employees. Too often the parenting debate gets focused solely on women as the traditional primary provider of childcare. This is a real wake-up call for employers, with the survey showing us that the role of parenting in the 21st century is a shared responsibility. Our employment policies must reflect this."

While more than half of dads (52%) say they do manage to prioritise their family life more than a third (35%) now work more than ever, which means they often aren't able to be as involved in family life as they would like to be. The study also revealed that nearly nine out of ten fathers (87%) want their employer to do more to help them with their parenting responsibilities:

Almost half (49%) want to be able to work flexibly, 21% want to be able to take paternity leave, a quarter want their employer to be more understanding of the demands of fatherhood and 38% would like support with child care.

The research findings may also be a stark warning for employers who do not take supporting fathers seriously as almost half, (46%) of dads would consider changing their employer for greater flexibility.

Denise Keating, CEO of ENEI, said: "With traditional family roles having changed significantly in recent decades, a healthy workplace culture treats men and women equally. True gender equality will only happen when it is not only socially and culturally acceptable, but actually expected that fathers will play an equal part in the care and upbringing of their children. If employers do not move with the times and proactively enable this, there is a risk of disengagement, loss of performance, or even worse, a perception of discrimination against the male workforce."

The survey shows parental responsibilities differ significantly across the country. Fathers in the south east provide the most care with 35% saying they do the majority of the childcare, compared to 12% in Wales and Yorkshire and the Humber.

The caring doesn't stop with children however; more than two fifths of fathers also have caring responsibilities for others (42%). Almost one fifth (18%) care for parents or parents-in-law and one in 10 care for a disabled partner.