Crushing the stigma: Unum dads are taking paid parental leave

Leading the Way

Crushing the stigma: Unum dads are taking paid parental leave

Moms aren’t the only ones taking advantage of Unum’s paid parental leave program, which provides new moms and dads six weeks of paid leave after birth, adoption or foster.

In fact, 42 percent of people who have used the benefit since it was introduced last year are fathers.

But a recent Unum survey of 500 new parents in the U.S. found 37 percent of new fathers said they feel there’s a stigma in the workplace around new parents taking leave, with 80 percent of them saying they experienced the stigma first hand.

For many dads, having the option to take paternity leave is new.

“I wish I could have had this experience with all three kids,” said dad-of-three-kids and Unum employee Ryan Ewalt. “I didn’t get to bond in the same way with my older two kids. The stories, moments and experiences: you’re either there for them, or you miss them.”

Paid parental leave is available to all moms and dads at Unum, because family-friendly benefits like these are not just “perks” for parents, according to Liz Ahmed, Unum’s executive vice president of People and Communications. “They’re investments that help working parents to thrive professionally, meet their goals, and bring their best to work each day,” she said at a company Town Hall meeting.

“I know there can be a stigma in the workplace about taking paternity leave,” said John Gandy, an investment officer at Unum. “But I didn’t feel that at Unum. My colleagues and leadership were supportive of me taking time off after my wife and I adopted twins late last year.”

Although John admits wrestling with how much time to take off after the adoption, he ultimately chose to take the full amount of time available to help his wife and have six uninterrupted weeks with his family (which he says he won’t have the opportunity to do again until retirement). Another big driver of his decision was to set a precedent for his team to feel comfortable taking the paid parental leave in the future.

“Having this time to only focus on family is probably one of the greatest gifts I have ever received, allowing me to make great memories and experience intimate moments that otherwise would not have happened,” Ryan said, after getting to use Unum’s paid parental leave benefit after the birth of his son William last Fall.

Thanks Ryan, John, and all those other Unum dads who are crushing the stigma around fathers taking time off to bond with their kids.

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