Women and Work

Challenging the Parental Leave Stereotype

Lendlease is proving parental leave doesn't always need to be female orientated. They are breaking that stereotype and making room for dads to take over.

At Lendlease, our extensive parental and family benefits are available to all employees, regardless of gender.

We’re starting the conversation to normalise fathers taking leave and working flexibly and in doing so, helping break down the stereotypes of men looking after their children.

Meet Dion and Matt

Here we speak to Dion and Matt,  who are part of the ‘two percent’ of dads in Australia who have taken parental leave.

Lendlease - FlexCareers

Dion with his son.

Dion is a Finance Manager based in Brisbane and a father to two sons. After the birth of his first son in 2015, Dion took 12 months parental leave to be the primary carer. Following the recent arrival of his second son, Dion now balances his career and parental responsibilities by working 4 days per week.

Matt is a Sustainability Manager for our NSW & ACT Building business, based in Sydney. Matt recently returned from 18 weeks paid parental leave with his second daughter.

Tell us about your decision to take parental leave.

 Dion:     At the time it wasn’t the case that taking leave was important to me; what was actually important to us was one of us being there to look after our son until he was a year old. The fact it ended up being primarily me was that I had access to paid and unpaid parental leave at Lendlease, but as my wife was self-employed she didn’t have the same opportunity.

 Matt:     I took around 18 weeks paid parental leave in total; two weeks after our daughter’s birth and around 15-16 weeks when she was about 9 months old. We planned my leave to support my wife to be available to start and settle into a new job. Taking parental leave reduced the pressure on everyone and gave me some great bonding time with both our children.

How did Lendlease support you?

Dion:     Lendlease has policies that formally embed the ability to take parental leave and flexibility in work, which has the effect of making it more visible and sending a message that this is acceptable.  My manager was initially surprised but extremely supportive both of me taking parental leave and working flexibly when I returned.

Matt:     My manager is a big advocate of flexible working practices and actively encourages the men in her team to take their parental leave. We spoke about my plans well in advance, then worked closely together to set up a structured transition period to engage someone to backfill my role and manage the expectations of my clients and stakeholders.

Matt and his family

What was the best part?

Dion:     For me, it was such an amazing, bonding experience.  Being there to experience the milestones like rolling, crawling, walking, etc; seeing the sheer joy and happiness when introducing him to new things.

Matt:     It was the experience of being there for my whole family. The time with the baby was great but I was also there for the school pick-ups and drop-offs for our older child, and there to support my wife as she transitioned back to work. I volunteered in the school canteen and I think they said I was the only dad who’d ever done it!

What challenges weren’t you expecting?

Dion:     I noticed that the time was a little bit lonely. The kind of social network that is available for new mums (i.e. mother’s groups) is not really available for men so I think it is a little bit different for them.

Matt:     Yes! It was so hard finding a social network for Dads – I just couldn’t find one in the end and gave up!

What’s your biggest take away?

Dion:     Since doing the whole parental leave thing as a dad it’s really opened my eyes up to what it really is like for women who have simply been expected to do all of this for, like…..forever! If I want to have a family but I expect my wife to sacrifice her career by putting family first and I’m not willing to do it myself, what does that say about me and my priorities? Change by doing.

Matt:     In our male-dominated and traditional industry there can be managers who struggle to understand why a man would want or need to take parental leave. I’m glad to be part of that change – the next big thing is to normalise it!

This post was written for FlexCareers by Caroline Hafey, Global Talent Brand Manager, Lendlease.  To find out more about careers at Lendlease, and browse flexible roles available through FlexCareers, click here.


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