Dove Men+Care Dispels Paternity Leave Stigmas

Dove Men+CareIt has been just over a month since Canada’s new Parental Sharing Benefit came into effect.  The new policy granting families an additional five weeks of leave if taken by the non-birthing parent.   To further educate Canadians about parental leave stigmas, Dove Men+Care has rolled out a new digital campaign that shows the that persistent social stigmas and traditional views of fatherhood and masculinity may be to blame for more Canadian fathers not taking paternity leave.  The campaign aims to spark discussion by casting light on continuing social stigmas in order to encourage Canadians to reevaluate their views of fatherhood and paternity leave.

“With Canada’s new parental leave policies, we think it’s an important moment to encourage Canadians to take the time to change the conversation around parental leave,” says Leslie Golts, Marketing Lead at Unilever (Dove Brand & Skin Cleansing Category). “The results demonstrate that, while the image of fatherhood is evolving, there’s still a lot of work to do to make paternity leave stigmas a thing of the past.”
Inspired by actual online commentary, the campaign confronted users with real online comments that were paraphrased such as “Paternity leave is for wimps”, “Fathers use paternity leave as vacation” and “Bonding is for weekends”, asking them vote on whether they agreed. The statements could also be seen at digital kiosks at Union Station, Yonge & Eglinton Centre, and Fairview Mall, as well as on Twitter and on

The results show that, while the majority of respondents disagreed with the stigma statements, attitudes that echo traditional forms of masculinity remain pervasive. For example, 24 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement, “Paternity leave? No, bonding is for weekends”, perhaps reflecting an assumption that men require less bonding time with their children. While 33 per cent agreed that fathers are the ones to pay bills for their families.

Results for all stigma statements below:

  • “Paternity Leave is for Wimps”
    • Agree: 8 per cent
    • Disagree: 92 per cent
  • “Fathers just use Paternity Leave as a vacation”
    • Agree: 12 per cent
    • Disagree: 88 per cent
  • “Paternity Leave? No, bonding is for weekends”
    • Agree: 24 per cent
    • Disagree: 76 per cent
  • “Paternity Leave? Dads pay bills to support their family” 
    •  Agree: 33 per cent
    • Disagree: 67 per cent
  • “Dads don’t breastfeed. They don’t need Paternity Leave”
    • Agree: 5 per cent
    • Disagree: 95 per cent

Further data from Dove Men+Care’s research shows that:

  • Canadian men believe in the importance of a father spending time taking care of their child: More than 9 in 10 Canadian men (93 per cent) agree that it is a father’s responsibility to be heavily involved in caring for his children and more than 4 in 5 Canadian men (83 per cent) agree that a father should put his children before his career.
  • Millennial fathers are taking longer paternity leaves than their older counter parts: Half of Millennial fathers (49 per cent) report taking more than a week for paternity leave, while only 37 per cent of Gen X fathers have done the same.
  • 3 in 4 Canadian men (73 per cent) agree that men and women should take equal parental leave, but the spouses/partners of Canadian fathers on average take 8 times longer parental leave.
  • While Canadian fathers/fathers-to-be want to take more paternity leave, they are afraid taking time off will negatively impact their finances (75 per cent) and their relationships with their managers at work (51 per cent).