More than half (56%) of working men with children or other family responsibilities would prefer to be more involved as carers, according to a study commissioned by Business in the Community (BITC), in partnership with Santander UK.
The Equal Lives report, carried out by Avenir Consulting and published in September 2018, canvassed the views of 10,225 parents employed in the UK. It also found that, although women are eight times more likely to take the lead in caring responsibilities for children, 85% of men believe they should be just as involved.
Chloe Chambraud, gender equality director for BITC, said: “Women’s careers are still most affected by taking on the burden of care for dependent children and adults. But men are now telling us they want to be more involved at home, and employers need to catch up.
“We will never achieve equality in the workplace, and the gender pay gap will never close if employers don’t support equality at home. With the number of dependent adults and the proportion of men wanting to be more involved in caring going up, businesses that don’t do more to support them risk losing talent.”
Two-thirds (66%) of men said they would make use of family-friendly policies offered by their employers, such as flexible working and shared parental leave, if they were confident that spending more time on caring responsibilities would not have an impact on their career prospects.
However, nearly half (48%) of men aged under 35 said they do not take shared parental leave, because they cannot afford to reduce their earnings.
Jo Swinson MP, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats and former employment relations minister, said: “This research shows that the appalling discrimination faced by mothers in the workplace is bad for men too. Fathers want to have more time with their children but fear of career penalties discourages them from making more use of flexible working and shared parental leave.
“We can all take action to tackle this. Employers can ensure they have modern, flexible policies to support parents and carers in the workplace. And the government needs both to lead a continued change in culture and back this up by increasing statutory pay for parental leave, and closing the current gap from nine months to two years in free early years provision.”