Deloitte leads national drive for new dads to take parental leave

27 August 2018 4 min. read

Big Four accounting and consulting firm Deloitte are leading the way in a new national conversation to see more Australian dads take parental leave. Through sponsoring the Aussie Dads photography exhibition this week at the Opera House, the firm aims to spark the debate on men taking a greater role in child care.

Earlier this year, Deloitte was named number 11 on the list of Best Workplaces for Aussie Dads ranking conducted by the website Direct Advice for Dads. The ranking was the first of its kind in Australia and also featured consulting rivals EY and PwC, showing how the industry as a whole is championing the issue.

New fathers taking leave is an issue that was spearheaded internally in the consulting firm by then CEO Cindy Hook. Hook made it a priority to make sure that Deloitte’s dads felt comfortable and even encouraged to utilise primary carer’s leave. She made an example of this at the 2018 Deloitte State of the Nation conference where she invited three men to the stage, two who had taken the primary carer’s leave and one who had been pressured out of it by his peers. Hook said, “he was told his career would go bad – and to this day, he regrets it.” 

She considers taking the leave as a fundamental way to increase gender equality and pay parity in the workplace. “It is time for Dad Champions of Change who will proudly say 'I'm raising my children – not just economically – but I am picking them up and dropping them to school'," she said. “The more fathers get involved with their children at a young age, the more involved they will be the whole way through and that will free more women up.”

Deloitte Australia offer 18 weeks of paid primary carer’s leave and two weeks of paid secondary carer’s leave. The firm also allows its employees to take primary care flexibly which has driven an uptake of more dads accessing the scheme.

Deloitte leads national drive for new dads to take parental leave

The initiative is part of a broader effort to advance equal opportunities for fathers and mothers in Australia, benefiting families, businesses and the economy as a whole. The firm sees the shared parental leave only as one part of its multifaceted diversity and inclusion strategy. The aim of such a progressive strategy is to ensure the firm is able to shape a workplace which thrives on leveraging diversity, driving innovation and collaboration.

“We recognise that supporting parents and families is key to the ongoing success of our people. Secondly, we believe an initiative like this is necessary in helping to shift existing societal norms on caregiving and breadwinning – norms which ultimately have significant impacts on both men and women,” said Sam Sheppard, Chief Human Resources Officer, Deloitte.

“A child’s first words and steps, these are just a couple of treasured moments that many fathers who have worked full time and taken only days or weeks of leave – have missed over the years. On the flipside, without their partners taking an equal share in caregiving roles, many women have found themselves taking longer career breaks, which makes returning to their work and career a bigger challenge,” she said.

Support groups

The firm also offers a number of parental support groups and programs to help new parents – mums or dads – to support balancing their work/life/home challenges. These include the return to work transition program after leave, a reconnect program tailored by Parents at Work, WorkAgility – a flexible workplace strategy, and prominently Deloitte Dads; explained as a program with the intent of better supporting and providing equitable access for men to take parental leave and work flexibly. 

“With a 50/50 shared approach, both parents get to experience the joys of parenting, whilst minimising some of the impacts that can arise from taking an extended period off work.”

Deloitte Australia’s parental leave policy allows all parents access to a full 18 weeks – a change driven by Deloitte Asia-Pacific Chief Executive Officer, Cindy Hook, who recently credited her career achievements to shared caregiving responsibilities with her husband. 

“When I think back on my own career, how I got here – a very big part of that is because my husband shared 50/50 in raising our children from the beginning. This allowed us to both have careers and also to raise two great kids,” said Hook. “It is my hope that a discussion like this will help to create a societal shift that will hopefully see men take up a greater share of caring responsibilities, and importantly, allow women to return to work sooner and continue pursuing their career desires.”