Parental leave has a positive impact on both job and partnership. This is one of the central insights of the latest study into fatherhood, which was published by Germany’s second largest bank, Commerzbank. Some 750 employees who had been on parental leave during the past five years responded to questions regarding their motivation to engage in both job and family.
Two thirds of the participating fathers had taken two months parental leave but even more, 70 percent, would have preferred to take more than that. For the head of department at the Federal Ministry for Families, Petra Mackroth, this is a sign that “Fathers want to be more engaged in the family and want to spend more time for their children.” In order for partnerships to work in both spheres, work and family, fathers and mothers must be provided with effective frameworks and tools. Commerzbank’s study sheds light on which of the bank’s offerings are well accepted and what a best-fitting solution can look like.
The preferences of the 750ish fathers participating in the survey provide the backdrop to understand the findings: 93 percent consider their professional and family roles equally important. 97 percent want to spend as much time as possible with their child and 84 percent want to strengthen their relationship with their child. With their parental leave, 53 percent want to support their partner’s re-entry or advancement in employment.
The study confirms once more two key challenges around parental leave: Financial issues and perceived disadvantages on the job or in the (future) career. In this light, most fathers return to work full-time while a large group of mothers return to a part-time role.
In this context, child care is clearly key. However, perceptions vary between public child care facilities and those provided by the employer, such as Commerzbank’s ‘Kids & Co.’. The latter offers 12 opening hours and hence helps to reduce organisational stress – which is not achieved by rigid and short operating hours of public child care.
The perceived corporate cultural challenge around parental leave is not confirmed for the case of Commerzbank. 74 percent of fathers said that their conversations with their managers had gone well. 84 percent felt supported by their colleagues. “These numbers say a lot about the positive culture at Commerzbank and they should not be seen as an indication for the situation at large,” comments Diversity expert, Michael Stuber, who knows the field in detail. And yet, the study also shows room for improvement: 45 percent of the respondents indicated that Commerzbank’s programmes seem to be too much geared towards women. This may be due to the longer history of the bank’s women’s programmes which started in 1995. Since then, the bank has been a hidden champion in many areas of Diversity & Inclusion. Since 2004, Commerzbank runs an internal network, ‘Fokus Väter’ (focus fathers) and holistic gender diversity programme. Since 2003, the percentage of fathers who take parental leave rose from 0.1 to 16.1 percent in 2014.
The latest study of the role of fathers can be downloaded, in German language, here https://www.commerzbank.de/media/karriere/diversity_neu/Vaeterstudie_2015.pdf