Father’s Day is celebrated worldwide to recognise the contribution that fathers and father figures make to the lives of their children. For some of us the father figure in our lives is our mother, grandfather, an uncle or a brother. Inspired by our Baxter of California team in the UK and their Non-Traditional Father’s Day campaign today at L’Oreal UK & Ireland we’re celebrating all of the amazing father figures we have in our lives.
Laurence Whitaker, National Account Manager is a dad, on Shared Parental Leave, spending the first 8 months of his newborns life away from work and hands-on with his new young family. While you may not think of Laurence as a ‘Non-Traditional Father’ (paternity leave isn’t a new concept), but in 2019, in the UK less than 2% of new dads take Shared Parental Leave. With this in mind we sat with Laurence to learn a little about his experience of paternity leave at L’Oréal UK&Ireland. Read on to learn more..
You’re currently on shared parental leave, congrats on the birth of your son! How has your experience of L’Oréal’s GROW program been the past few months?
In the run up to becoming a parent I had endless questions about the impact parenthood would have on my career as well as the support that I could expect from L’Oréal. I had queries about Paternity and Shared Parental Leave policies, about how best to communicate the news to my team and my clients and on how to manage both my departure and my return to the business. As part of GROW I received a one to one coaching session from an external agency called Talking Talent — the session was run by an HR specialist who was also a working father and gave clear, structured advice on how to manage the whole process including the return to work. I could also ask all of my questions confidentially and receive an independent answer. This coaching coupled with the support of my line manager and wider team ensured I felt completely comfortable as I counted down to the start of my Shared Parental Leave.
How are you enjoying your time at home with your son?
Being able to devote all my time to Teddy over the past 3 months has been incredible, I’ve been there for all the key moments from his first smile to his first vaccinations and all the everyday challenges of parenthood in-between — at a rough estimate I think I’ve changed over 500 nappies to date. Being given the time away from work to be so involved has been incredible and has enabled me to form a joyous bond with Teddy, as well as giving me the time to spend with my partner so that we could enjoy these first magical months as a family. I’m sure the next 3 months will be just as special.
What has been the most exciting thing about being a new father?
My perspective has completely changed since becoming a father. My own wants and needs take a back seat now and bringing joy to Teddy is always my priority. Luckily he has an infectious smile, so much so that whenever we go out he finds someone new to flirt with! Overall becoming a father has made me more hopeful, more optimistic, and more determined to ensure that we make an even better world for him than we had ourselves.
What advice would you give to expecting fathers concerning paternity leave?
At L’Oréal you receive 4 weeks fully paid Paternity Leave and then you can choose to take up to 5 additional months at full pay as part of Shared Parental Leave. I would encourage every expectant father to take some Shared Parental Leave — it gives you the time to bond with your baby, to support your partner and to share the magic of a newborn baby as a family. L’Oréal’s policy is incredibly generous and in my experience the whole business is supportive in ensuring that you can take the time without having to worry about any negative impact on your career. Shared Parental Leave is a new concept in the UK and there isn’t a huge amount of information about it so I have launched a website filled with information and also with some of my experiences — SPLdad.com
This is to be your first Father’s Day, what message would you like to share with your son?
Be humble, be empathetic, be bold and nothing will be impossible.