Today, we’ve seen data on just what such a shift in policy can achieve, with QBE announcing a massive 300 per cent increase in the number of men taking paid parental leave over the past year.
Men now make up 27 per cent of those taking such leave at the insurer, receiving 12 weeks of paid leave that can be taken flexibly.
It’s a strong result given QBE only announced the policy this time last year, when men accounted for just 10 per cent of those taking leave. It’s also impressive when you consider the ABS stats that find just five per cent of men access primary paid parental leave.
QBE’ Share the Care policy is pitched at normalising parenting, career breaks and flexible work for men and women.
QBE Australia Pacific CEO Vivek Bhatia described their policy as a great example for how corporate Australia can boost gender equality and promote shared caring at home.
“When you look at our workforce as a whole, the fact that over a quarter of those now accessing paid parental leave are men is a truly encouraging figure,” he said.
“We’ve taken the step to normalise caring and flexibility for all families and sent a strong and overdue message that we can only achieve gender equality in the workplace when both men and women have equal opportunities to thrive in their career, and at home.”
He added the policy is helping to show men that it’s “ok to prioritse family”, and it’s remove barriers that prevent men from taking leave, which in turn impact women’s career trajectories.
QBE said the number of men accessing the 12-weeks paid parental leave in a full-time block has doubled, but that the key game changer has been the policy’s flexibility: enabling parents to take the leave in ways that best works for them, for example two days a week for an extended period.
CEO of Parents At Work, Emma Walsh, who helped establish the Advancing Parental Leave Equality Network (APLEN), said the policy change provides evidence that fathers do want the opportunity to spend more time with their new family members.
“QBE’s significant uplift of men accessing parental leave since the new scheme is evidence that fathers do want the opportunity to share the care and if they are supported to take leave, they will.
“When we normalise and de-stigmatise ‘sharing the caring’ within workplace culture, employees have an equal opportunity to meet work and family demands”.