Investment companies are being urged to support fathers in the workplace and encourage them to take shared parental leave in order to help close the gender pension gap.
Research carried out by NOW Pensions and The Diversity Project has shown extremely limited uptake of shared parental leave by men in asset management, with concerns about catching up with workload and negative perceptions in the workplace cited as reasons.
Only 50% of the 101 fathers in UK asset management interviewed by the Diversity Project in September 2021 took more than three weeks of paternity leave – with the statutory amount being two weeks – and just 5% took more than 26 weeks off.
A fifth of respondents said that taking parental leave would be viewed negatively in their place of work, and 43% said they would be concerned about catching up with their workload after returning from extended leave.
Helena Morrissey, chair of the Diversity Project, said: “Businesses benefit when their employees have strong family lives, and those companies that support extended parental leave report greater employee loyalty.”
Gender pay gap
PPI research found that each year a mother is away from work on maternity leave means a decline in their pension wealth by an average of £1,823. However, if the time mothers took away was reduced through shared parental leave, pension wealth declines by a smaller amount of £755.
Therefore, if there was wider take-up of shared parental leave, there would be a reduced impact on the gender pay gap of as much as 60%.
A number of the fathers in the research also share their positive experiences from doing so: 97% would recommend taking shared parental leave and 78% said the internal process was straightforward. More than half said there was no difference to their work when they returned.
Danielle and Lee Bassin, who shared parental leave commented on their experiences.
Danielle said: “In 2016, we decided to take shared parental leave to enable me to get back to work more quickly. I took the first six months and Lee took the remaining six months to spend with the girls. This was important to support my career progression and allowed my husband to spend quality time with our children.”
Lee added: “I absolutely loved the opportunity as it was such a special time to be able to bond with my children. My eldest had just started school so I was able to be there in those precious few months and making friends with all the other parents at the school as well as looking after our little girl. If you can make it work financially, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.”
NOW Pensions and Diversity Project have launched a cross-industry campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of extended parental leave.
Morrissey explained: “We are developing a ‘best practice’ guide to be launched early next year that we will be sharing with our member firms and asking them to pledge to review their current family leave policies. We have the opportunity for our industry to Reset4Inclusion and start raising the bar and ensure equality for all colleagues experiencing parental leave.”
Michael de Lathauwer, chair of NOW Pensions and D&I group lead added: “At NOW: Pensions, we have long been campaigning on initiatives to help close the gender pensions gap. We are committed to providing our employees with a fully flexible and collaborative approach to working. The survey findings released today show the huge benefits to both employees and organisations who are supportive of inclusive family leave policies. We are proud to sign up to the Diversity Project pledge and will be reviewing our family leave policies across our organisation.”