30/03/2017 13:00 BST | Updated 31/03/2018 06:12 BST

In A Brexit Climate, We Need To Address An Important Issue In The Workplace

The modern day workplace has been awash with change over the past few decades.

New technology, more 'dress-down' policies, a focus on culture / employer branding, and ofcourse a much needed improvement in the working lives of mothers, though there is still much to improve upon.

Yet within all this change, one important group of the modern workforce has not had anywhere near the necessary attention - modern day dads.

Earlier this year, Working Families published research which showed that fathers in the workplace are becoming increasingly in danger of experiencing a 'fatherhood penalty' - where dads downshift their careers in order to spend more time with the family. This tension isn't necessarily exclusively for newer dads, but with almost 50% of the dads surveyed saying they would downshift to accommodate more family time, at a time where more families are living pay-cheque to pay-cheque, it is telling trend.

With more companies finding ways to become more flexible in their working practice, and with over 250,000 stay at home dads now in the UK, it's startling that so many dads feel an increasing pressure to be more present in both the workplace...and the home.

Clearly something needs to give.

Wisely, the government have decided to look at the issue in more depth, and the Inquiry on fathers in the workplace, chaired by MP Maria Miller, is going to give a detailed look at that issue.

In respect of this, there are four important questions to ask, and for dads to take some action on.

1. We need to understand the real drivers of the 'fatherhood penalty'

Though more companies are becoming more flexible as a whole, 44% of dads are reported afraid to ask for it. We need an honest conversation about why. Are there silent triggers of this that we can address for dads across the UK?

2. Realise that this is not a like for like of Mum's progression (nor a distraction from it)

There is still much work to be done on reducing the pay gap that still exists for men and women. Clearly we're still some way off the Swedish model where mums and dads have more of an equal footing, both in the workplace and in their parental leave (they get to split 18 months however they see fit). But we can at least start change from a position where we look at the unique situation of fathers who seemingly 'have it all' yet clearly do not. More organisations should be encouraged to start the conversation. Speaking of which...

3. Work needs to happen with the real change agents

Large businesses (technically those with more than 250 employees), account for 0.1% of all businesses across the UK, but 40% of employment and 53% of total turnover. Are our largest companies really pushing their working practices nearly hard enough to counternance modern day fathers? We hear a lot from dads in the daddilife community that would suggest otherwise. These are the group of people who can make the largest change in the shortest time, and it's with our larger companies where some very honest conversations need to start happening at a leadership level.

4. Dads need to have their say

Working families are running an important survey with aim of reviewing how effective Shared Parental Leave is currently, and what can be done to improve it. I would encourage all UK WORKING DADS to spend a couple of minutes filling it in. It's the sort of thing that would get taken to the Inquiry, and it's time for dads to have their say.

It is my hope that the Inquiry can start to make genuine change happen. Without it, we may be about to create an even greater tension for dads in the workforce, at a time where economically post-brexit, we need to create as high a level of productivity as possible.