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Building a father-friendly work culture

16 October 2021

3 min. to read

© Hannie Verhoeven
Recent research by WOMEN Inc. revealed something remarkable: male colleagues who have a child do not always take the paternity leave that they are entitled to take. What does that say about equality and financial independence within the family? ABN AMRO strives for equal opportunities for everyone. So, it asked three design studios to develop a design for financial gender equality. Studio (ink). offered a surprising twist with their partner leave gift idea: the Bouw Box.

Suppose you have a child. Great! But it will certainly test your financial independence. Will you stay at home with the baby? Or will you continue to work, whether for the income or because it’s simply the ‘professional’ thing to do? These are difficult questions, and parents need to solve them together. Research shows that young fathers would prefer to work less than they do now, and young mothers would prefer to work more. A woman still loses an average of 47% of her income in the seven years after the birth of her first child. Men still often choose to continue working, even though they have been entitled to paternity leave since 2019.

The Bouw Box, for a father-friendly work culture

Three design studios got to work in the What If Lab to answer the question, ‘What if financial independence was not determined by gender?’ The assignment: use design to create equal opportunities. After reviewing the submissions, ABN AMRO chose studio (ink).’s design:  a concept that focuses on modern parenting, with an equal division of parental roles.

Studio (ink). and ABN AMRO want to encourage young parents to build their lives together. First, by ensuring that the father takes his paternity leave. Many men still see this as an inconvenience that wouldn’t be appreciated in the workplace. The Bouw Box (Building Box) therefore offers a new ritual: the partner leave gift. In this way, the bank can initiate a conversation and demonstrate that taking leave is ok. It’s a way to break the stereotypes that often surround new fatherhood.

The ‘Bouwkaart Modern Ouderschap’ (Modern Parenting Blueprint) helps facilitate a good conversation about parenthood. And then participants use blocks to – literally and figuratively – build towards an equal start. ABN AMRO take the initiative here, in part by supplementing partner leave to 100% of the partner’s salary.

Curious about studio (ink).’s concept? Check it out at Dutch Design Week 2021, at the ABN AMRO Equal Opportunities Pavilion.


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