THE REAL NEW MAN
The good news is there are more and more men like Bill Romans and Andrew Moravcsik who are boldly placing family first and doing so without sacrificing their careers. Take Tim Cicero. I met him in London when I was helping run a conference on how to increase the number of women in creative leadership in advertising. Tim and I immediately bonded over our dreams for a more evolved workplace. He told me he had consciously constructed his career so he could be a fully engaged father, and that it wasn’t easy. He gave up a rising career as a record producer with Universal Music because the crazy hours and erratic schedule meant he was sacrificing time he could have spent with his children.
“It came down to realizing that my family was my priority. As a result, everything I do is compared against what it means for me in relationship to my kids. If I am going to give up one hour of time with them, I ask myself, what am I going to get back?”
He built off of his strong relationships in the music industry to launch his own executive coaching practice, something he said he had already been doing with colleagues on the side. His practice has morphed and, ironically, most of his clients now are senior women in advertising and media who are trying to figure out how to integrate their careers with their family obligations. He said he coaches them to do what he did.
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“It takes courage to live your truth. For some, that means leaning in to the work and letting go of the guilt. For others that means giving up the big title, the fancy job, the outsized paycheck, and finding a life that has more flexibility. But make no mistakes, this isn’t about gender,” Tim said adamantly. “It’s about courage. I believe true courage comes from being authentic to yourself. Women and men need to learn how to do that.”
Charles Scott already has. Author Whitney Johnson wrote about him in her compelling book, Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work, recounting how Charles disrupted his own life and took a pause for parenthood. But because he’s a man, he called it a “sabbatical.” Whitney explained,
Charles Scott had a plum job at Intel Capital’s Investment Capital Fund, and had developed Intel’s clean technology investment strategy. He also wanted to spend more time with his young children. He didn’t quit his job right away. He took a two-month sabbatical to test-drive his steam: in the summer of 2009, he and his eight-year-old son cycled the length of mainland Japan, 2,500 miles in sixty days … Once he finished this endurance adventure, Scott had enough data to be certain he wanted to change career …
So he saved and planned for two years before finally leaving Intel. Charles launched his new business, Family Adventure Guy, a for-profit-for-good effort that supports family endurance challenges and links them to charitable causes. Like so many women who found a way to integrate their kids with their careers, Scott worked, paused, and thrived.
As of 2014, 90 percent of births were to women between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four. While we don’t know the age of the fathers, we can assume the vast majority of them are also Millennials. And what do we know about Millennial men? Like Benn Eifert, they don’t just want to be out there providing as men have been expected to do for, well, a millennium or two. The men of this generation also want to care for their children. The question is, will we women let them?
Michael Kimmel, distinguished professor of sociology at Stony Brook University and a leading expert on men and masculinity, often talks and writes about the “new real men.” He wrote they are “animated by terrific relationships with their children” and expect their partners to be fully engaged in meaningful careers.179 As we have seen, those expectations can be realized only if we allow men to take their rightful place in the home.
As Bill Romans said, “Caregiving isn’t gendered; society’s attitude toward caregiving is.” Let’s change that. But just changing attitudes isn’t enough. We need to disrupt the workplace paradigm when it comes to caregiving and careers. It is good for men, good for women, good for children, and good for business. It’s not fair to limit the lives of men when we demand more for women.
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