Women in Capital Markets, a Canadian non-profit, has launched a national pledge for companies and organizations in the financial sector to increase their use of parental leave by non-birth parents.
Parental leaves are absences from work that are taken in order to care for the birth or adoption of a new child.
The pledge has seven commitments for its signees to make, which include offering paid leave to all parents including fathers and non-birth parents, and ensuring that leave use — regardless of gender, duration, or any other details — does not inhibit career progression.
According to a report published by the Women in Capital Markets in 2021, women take parental leaves more than twice as often as men. In the two years that the study was conducted, 84 per cent of women surveyed had taken parental leave, while only 36 per cent of men had done so.
Additionally, the length of leaves taken by women were far longer than those of men. Women took leaves for an average of 42.5 weeks, while the average length of leave for a man was less than 7 weeks.
While the physical strains of giving birth can partially explain why women take longer parental leaves, the report notes that workplace culture is a major contributor to preventing men in the financial sector from taking parental leave, with 82 per cent of men saying that unsupportive workplace culture was a barrier to their use of leave.
The pledge uses the term “non-birth parents” in addition to “fathers,” which includes adoptive parents and parents in LGBTQ relationships.
“Even when gender neutral leave policies are in place, barriers and penalties can prevent fathers and non-birth parents from using them,” the pledge reads.
The pledge serves to advance equity between parents in the financial sector and beyond by allowing non-birthing parents to take on a greater share of the post-birth parenting load. Doing so may enable birthing parents to feel more equipped to return to their careers — whether in finance or otherwise.