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  • Writer's pictureScott Behson

TMZ, Rock and Roll, Flextime, Paternity Leave and Football: Work-Family News Roundup, November 2014

Here’s our monthly round-up of my favorite fathers, work and family-related news and analysis from the past month

And, now, the latest fathers, Work and Family news

And, now, the latest Fathers, Work and Family news

First, here’s what I’ve been up to lately. I’ve been very busy at the Huffington Post, publishing three articles:

I was interviewed for the Knights of Columbus’ excellent website that promotes involved fatherhood- Fathers for Good. Here’s the transcript of our Q&A, entitled “Father Time

Catalyst, a leading Work-Family advocacy and consulting organization reposted my article about the “CEO Dads” for their On the MARC (Men Advocating Real Change) website “Another CEO Chooses Fatherhood

And, now to the best of the rest:

Working Mothers Research Institute’s How Men Flex Study

This great study (you can read the full report here) surveyed over 1000 working men, and found that, while many did not have access to or use formal workplace flexibility (telecommuting, flextime, etc.), most stated that they could flex “as needed” on an ad-hoc or informal basis, that they felt supported in doing so, and that they greatly benefitted. These men also stated that the ability to custom-flex makes them happier, more productive and less likely to switch employers, all while reducing stress and opening up additional time for family. In all, this is a highly encouraging set of findings, and well worth a read. This report has generated some media attention, and I will be writing about this study soon for a large online publication. Stay tuned.

Yes, it is TMZ, so take this with a grain of salt. However, if you are big a fan of 90s rock as I am, you’ll find this really interesting (personal note: I won a karaoke contest in Fraser Island, Australia in 2001 singing “Iris“)

According to this article, former – Dolls drummer Michael Malinin and his wife were expecting their baby during GGD’s 2013 tour. Malinin discussed the need for him to take a few weeks off the tour for paternity leave and thought all was set. However, when the time came, Malinin claims he was fired. Now he is suing. I wrote about similar lawsuits here and here, but this report, if true, is the most blatant example of parental discrimination I’ve come across. (I always liked Matchbox 20 better, anyway!)

The Goo Goo Dolls, before they parted ways (creative commons/Wikimedia)

The Goo Goo Dolls, before they parted ways (creative commons/Wikimedia)

Look Who’s Using Flex Now by Kelley Holland for CNBC

Misha Rubin, a partner at Ernst & Young, and his husband recently adopted twin girls. After he did so, he worked it out with his team at EY to work remotely, decline assignments involving extensive travel, and otherwise work more flexible hours. By all accounts, he was supported in making these arrangements, and he has remained happy and productive, even as he adjusts to life as a parent (of twins!).

This is another very positive story of a big-time financial firm in a highly-competitive industry understanding that the key to the retention and long-term engagement of talented employees is becoming more flexible and accommodating of family demands. EY has been a leader in this regard for some time now, as it has become a strategic priority for EY and they have a CEO, Mark Weinberger, whom I have written about, who publicly role models work-life balance as a dad (and who follows me on twitter!).

Holland connects Rubin’s story to recent research (including the Working Mother study I mentioned above) showing that men starting to make progress in their quest for more supportive workplace policy. Progress!

Paternity Leave: The Rewards and the Remaining Stigma by Claire Cain Miller in the NYTimes “The Upshot”

This excellent article is a comprehensive report on the state of paternity leave in 2014. Miller did her homework, citing many important recent studies and talking to virtually every important subject matter expert (but I think she lost my number, somehow). You really should read the article yourself, but she covers so much of what I’ve written about: the benefits of paternity leave for dads, kids, families, working moms, and employers; the “flexibility stigma” men face when visibly accommodating work for family; conflicting and changing societal expectations on fathers; intermittent progress; enduring obstacles; poignant examples; and reasons for hope.

Screencaop from the Nov 12th MMBQ article about Geoff and Melanie Schwartz and their work-family challenges

Screencap from the Nov 12th MMBQ article about Geoff and Melanie Schwartz and their work-family challenges

This excellent report from the Families and Work Institute, which for a long time has been THE leader in work-family advocacy and research, makes a compelling business case for employers to offer generous parental leave and other programs for new parents including day-care assistance and flexible work. Their essential argument is that, especially for women, those who are supported in their transition to parenthood are far more likely to return to work, saving employers huge amounts of money due to lowered turnover and higher employee engagement. FWI makes sure to include fathers equally in their analysis, and makes that case showing evidence of changing family dynamics and the increased number of working dads pushing for more employer support.

Married to Football by Emily Kaplan at Sports Illustrated’s “The”

This interview article focuses on New York Giants’ offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz and his wife Melanie as they chronicle the ups and downs of their marriage, and how the unstable nature of an NFL career, including moves to four different cities in seven years presents many challenges. At one point, Geoff and Melanie break up. Other times, Melanie has had to put her education and career on hold to relocate once again. Geoff feels terrible about the burden he has placed on Melanie. Through it all, however, it is clear that this couple really loves each other (and their young son) and should be fine well after his career ends.

One notion I took from this article is that work instability- frequent moves, uncertainty of future work- really takes a toll. This is why I placed job security as the #1 criterion for a “father-friendly” workplace in a recent article. In the NFL, you are always one play away from a career-ending injury. Non-guaranteed contracts mean that non-star players often need to find new employment every season, even if this means uprooting their families or living apart for long stretches of time. Yes, fortune and glory and all. But this comes at a price.

Do you have any news items to share? Please send them along! In the meantime, let’s discuss these in the comments section.

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