How to fix Work-First Culture

How to fix Work-First Culture

In a review of Josh Levs’ book entitled “All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families, and Businesses – and How We Can Fix It Together” for the Washington Post, Carlos Lozada echoes Levs and how he captures the quintessential struggles working parents – specifically fathers – go through in a culture where work is often times more of a priority than families. Levs discusses the abnormal dynamics of our working culture: while women are continuously striving for a balance between their professional life and raising a family, men are more and more feeling the pressures of being an available father and being the main source of income. The constant in this topsy turvy reality is that both mother and father have a desire to be at home with children in the midst of a working culture where any kind of absence from the workplace results in missed promotions and decreased income. In fact, Lozada mentions, “And more than a third of working parents, male and female, believe they’ve been passed over for a promotion or a raise because of their need for a more flexible schedule.”

Levs addresses how a shift amongst men and their inclination to be an involved father has only been blockaded by “laws, corporate policies, and gender-based expectations in the workplace…straight out of the 1950s”. The work-life balance has proven challenging over the years for those, men and women, in white-collar jobs, but Lozada points out that “it is clear that paid parental leave is just the beginning of the fight,” especially for low-income families and incarcerated parents. Lozada agrees with Levs’ urgency for America’s working culture to recognize the significance of paid time off for childcare, but Lozada identifies a deeper issue simply about more resources and support for all parents so that, no matter the situation, children are adequately cared for and invested in.

This does not mean, however, there has not been any progress. Levs reports that more and more companies have started to provide more time off for both mother and father. In fact, there has been a jump in paid paternity leave from one to six weeks. In order to get a movement for increased paternity leave mobilized, Levs had to get the attention of the Equal Employment Opportunity CommissWork-First2ion. The fact that this organization responded is a good omen as it means people are starting to recognize and take ownership of the gender inequality that still exists in modern day America. The only missing factor is more advocacy from fathers themselves, as Levs writes, “Women have done a great job of speaking out about this…It’s time for guys to join in.” A lot of what Levs does in his book is to make people wonder what would happen if more and more men rallied behind more time off as new fathers, despite potential cuts to their earnings – would companies take notice and respond positively? Would more rally behind this movement? Would it extend into backgrounds and lifestyles of all families?

At the end of his review, Lozada draws out the fact that there are still areas which need to be improved, specifically a shift of attention from upper and middle class fathers to lower class fathers. Lozada highlights a critical point in this struggle for gender equality: if fathers working in a stable job are struggling, imagine what a father working a job which barely provides enough for food or a father who is incarcerated. If anything, both Levs and Lozada recognize an urgent need for employers to acknowledge the wish and significance of both parents being available to their child, especially those crucial first couple of months. Levs and Lozada encourage a next step and perhaps one of the next steps for our culture is to find a way to balance what it is for both mother and father to lead professional lives while also maintaining an invested and caring relationship with children.

This post is summarized by Jennifer Loa for COIPI from: 
1) Lozada, Carlos. “A Lean in for Dads” Washington Post. June 18, 2015.
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