Reto, why are fathers key for a family-friendly company culture?
With Reno Kessler of Väternetzerk Schweiz
In a 2019 study by UNICEF, Switzerland ranked last in terms of family-friendly policies among 41 high- and medium-income countries. Balancing family life and work is considered a private matter, and the few existing structures of support are still aimed mainly at mothers. The challenges of working fathers are often overlooked, yet without their higher participation in care and domestic work, nothing can truly change for women either.
Actively addressing these issues comes with great benefits for organizations. Research has shown that the positive effects of initiatives like job-sharing, part-time work or on-site childcare outweigh the cost of implementing them even in the short-term.
In today’s episode, I’m talking with Reto Kessler, head of Väternetzwerk Schweiz, a program that supports fathers and companies in finding effective solutions for reconciling work and parenthood.
This is a truly inspiring conversation full of thought-provoking insights for parents and companies alike. Reto makes a strong case for why parenthood is an organizational matter, shares how it relates to equality in the workplace, and gives lots of actionable tips for building a family-friendly culture in your organization.
“[…]What we see is that most couples in Switzerland, they choose the traditional family model which means that the father is working 80% or more and the mother is working 50% or less. And they do this even though they would prefer a different family model. And the point is, by choosing this model, both partners have to deal with massive disadvantages in the long run. We’re talking about gender pay gap and pension pay gap, for example.
What you will learn
- Unbalanced distribution of paid and unpaid work between mothers and fathers contributes to issues like the gender pay gap. Diversity and equality at work require creating organizational structures that support options outisde of traditional gender roles for parenting.
- Parenthood puts an extra load on employees’ mental and physical health. By fostering a culture that enables parents to perform well without burnout, organizations can benefit from higher levels of employee motivation and commitment in the long run.
- When your company is family-friendly not only on paper but in practice as well, that can become one of your greatest assets in employer branding.
- Create internal parent networks where parents can meet, learn from and support each other.
- Before creating initiatives for parents within the company, ask them what they actually need. Let them be directly involved in the process and be open for proposals.
- Offer a few different benefit options parents can choose from. Experiment with solutions like job sharing, top sharing and leading in part-time.
RETO KESSLER (*1974) helps companies to develop offers for fathers who want to balance family and career well by bringing fathers together in a company.
Reto is currently Head of Corporate Work with Fathers at männer.ch (the swiss federation of progressive men’s and fathers’ organisations) and responsable for Väternetzwerk Schweiz. He is an organizational consultant with additional education in gender reflective work with men and fathers. He’s lives with his wife and his three daughters in the eastern part of Switzerland.
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