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Best Companies for Dads Encourage Gender-Neutral PTO

A man is holding a baby in his arms.

​The best companies for dads in 2020 have a few things in common, such as parental leave that is gender-neutral, gradual phase-back from parental leave and affordable child care, according to Working Mother Research Institute, which compiles the annual list.

"Millennial dads continue to be outspoken about wanting to be involved parents and needing the support of their companies in order to do so," said Subha V. Barry, president of Working Mother Media. Providing these benefits for dads helps mothers succeed both at home and at work, "and puts them on more equal [career] footing in the process," she noted in a news release announcing the best companies lists.

This is the third year the institute has compiled a "Best Companies for Dads" list but the first time companies could apply specifically for consideration as a best company for fathers. In previous years, that information was teased out of applications for the 100 Best Companies list. Organizations on the list in 2020 were ranked on paid parental leave, child care, adoption leave, fertility benefits and employee resource groups for men and working parents.

Bank of America (BoA), based in Charlotte, N.C., snared the top honor among the 85 on the list by offering 16 weeks of paid, gender-neutral parental leave; employee resource groups for men and working parents; backup child care; and a process to track the career progress of employees who take paid parental leave. The last category involves making sure mothers and fathers are not overlooked for promotions and stretch assignments; the company also tracks those employees' attrition rates. 

"Our commitment to investing in the well-being of our teammates means providing them with the support, benefits and resources they need to be the best versions of themselves at home and at work," said Sheri Bronstein, chief human resources officer at Bank of America. 

The backup child care, she noted, has provided more than 1 million days of care, accounting for more than $100 million in employee reimbursements as of Aug. 15.

Child care can be secured for children up to and including 12 years of age; it is available for children with special needs up to 21 years old.

Joining BoA on the top 10 list of best companies for dads were, in alphabetical order: AbbVie, Astellas Pharma U.S., Deloitte, Ernst & Young LLP, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, L'Oréal USA and Unilever.

Parental Leave

Gender-neutral leave in 2020 ranged from two weeks to 26 weeks, with 10 weeks the average leave time. 


Among companies with the most generous gender-neutral leave: Hewlett Packard and Diageo North America (both 26 weeks), American Express and Dow Jones (20 weeks), Arnold & Porter, Citrix, S&P Global and Uber Technologies (18 weeks). 

Gender-neutral parental leave is a growing trend, according to the institute—a finding backed up by new research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). SHRM found that 55 percent of organizations it surveyed now provide paternity leave, and 35 percent offer extended family care leave.

Working Mother noted that in 2015, all those on its 100 best companies list offered paid maternity leave but only a few offered gender-neutral leave or paternal leave. Five years later, nearly one-fourth of those on the list of best companies for moms offer paid gender-neutral leave. Additionally, 64 percent of companies listed as best for dads offer paid gender-neutral leave, and 36 percent offer paid paternal leave. 

Seven weeks was the average amount of paid paternal leave from companies on this year's top 10 Best Dads list, with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority the most generous at 13 weeks for its U.S. employees.

Other aspects of company culture that distinguished the companies on Working Mother's list of top companies for dads: 

Encouraging the use of the full amount of leave offered. A 2019 study by Boston College found that a majority of men (62 percent) take the full leave available to them. When they do not take the full leave, they take a substantial amount. For example, men eligible for eight weeks of leave took an average of 7.2 weeks in 2019, while men eligible for 16 weeks took 12.8 weeks on average. Boston College also found that 60 percent of men it surveyed agreed that their manager encouraged them to take parental leave. The college surveyed more than 1,400 U.S.-based employees of four large employers, with men making up 35 percent of respondents.

Discouraging the use of the full amount of leave can lead to legal headaches for an employer. JPMorgan Chase settled a class-action paternity leave case in 2019 for $5 million. One of its employees filed suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming his employer offered him only two weeks of parental leave although the companywide policy provided 16 weeks for family primary caregivers.

Providing transition planning for those taking parental leave and training managers and co-workers about parents on leave. If the employee going on leave has direct reports, training may include how certain duties will be handled during the new parent's absence and who those employees will report to in the interim, for example.



Related SHRM Articles:
Drafting a Parental Leave Policy That Won't Get You Sued, SHRM Online, August 2018
Is Paid Parental Leave Right for Your Company? SHRM Online, March 2017


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