Fatherhood: Navigating Choices

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We catch up with Andrew Hagger, CCO at NAB Consumer Banking & Wealth Management, to talk about the importance of choice and working together towards gender equality

Becoming a parent usually brings about a range of emotions, from excitement to nerves and everything in between. It can be a tricky road to navigate, and new parents in particular may feel they’re at a crossroads without a map.

Andrew Hagger knows that feeling all too well. Having grown up in the Adelaide Hills, Andrew travelled the world before moving to Kenya with his wife Pam, where they had their first child. The decisions the couple made at that pivotal moment paved the way for their family life, and are choices Andrew has continued to reflect upon in the years since.

Now a father to three grown up children and musician in the band Catsplay, Andrew caught up with us to talk about the importance of choice, open conversation and working together towards gender equality

Thanks for joining us today, Andrew. Let's start from the beginning- what were your expectations for fatherhood?

When I look back on that time, I think about the conversations we didn’t have. We were at a fork in the road, but we never talked about how we’d work it out. We were living in Kenya and my wife was out of the workforce - there was no market for physiotherapy there at the time - and so she became a stay at home mum. We didn’t realise we had choices; it was just how things were done. I try to convince the kids that I changed 50% of their nappies, but they have none of it! In truth, I wish I had.

Why is gender equality important for men?

If my wife and I had decided to have some of the conversations around career and childcare responsibilities, it could have led to very different outcomes for us. It was a sliding doors moment. In the context of the workplace, we’ve talked for years about getting parental leave right, enabling women to return to work and receive promotions, but we’re now also beginning to talk about fatherhood and the parental leave that men can take.

What can people do to close the gender pay gap from an individual perspective?

At present, women retire with 55-60 per cent of the superannuation funds that men do, and they live longer. It’s also worth considering that around one in three women don’t make any additional payments on top of their workplace superannuation. Having said that, in the 25-40 year old demographic, the wealth of women is the fastest growing. It shows that we’re making progress, but it’s just not happening fast enough. When it comes to financial planning, pregnancy is a key moment. Your whole world is about to change, so it’s a great time to seek financial advice that will set you in good stead for the years to come.

What would you say to people experiencing gender discrimination at work?

There was a report released by the Human Rights Commission a few years back which says that half of all women experience some form of pregnancy-related discrimination. I think there’s work to do on raising awareness about this - a lot of people don’t realise that they’re experiencing discriminatory behaviour until after the event. Often, this discrimination comes from leaders, and so calling it out can be difficult. I’d always recommend people come straight to the top - once it’s out in the open, it can be addressed and worked through together.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for workplaces when addressing gender inequality?

There’s an unconscious bias that permeates in ways you can’t even see, and tackling that requires a multifaceted approach. You can make policies to try and stamp it out in the workplace, but it happens at an individual and societal level too. It’s well known that, when job hunting, women look at nine requirements for a role and won’t apply if they only have six of them. There’s no silver bullet, and it will take time.

Finally, what can men do to ensure women are stepping up beside them?

Those who have inspired me the most are those who do something to help when they see others who lack the privilege they have. At its core, to lead is to serve - the more we are able to do that, the more fulfilled we will be, and the bigger impact we will have on those around us.

Just for DadsPrue Gilbert