How can employers get more dads to take parental leave?

Start with supportive policies, then make leave a cultural norm.

Most new dads and non-birthing parents in the U.S. don't have access to paid family leave. But even when paid leave is available, men often don't max out their time. On average, dads who take paid leave take less than a week; fewer than 5% take two weeks or more.

In part, that's because men who take family-related leave are penalized for violating masculine and ideal worker stereotypes. They're seen as less committed to work, reliable and deserving of a job.

The good news: supportive workplaces can dampen the stigma.

Offering longer leave at full pay reduces the sense that men who take leave are uncommitted to their jobs. So does broadcasting that parental leave is encouraged, that most eligible parents take it, and that it's specifically intended to be used by dads.

Positive peer pressure can help, too: men are more likely to embrace egalitarian work-family arrangements if they think their colleagues do.

Policy changes are necessary to make paid parental leave more widely available. But for companies with supportive policies in place, making parental leave a cultural norm should increase uptake.

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