Mr. Mom, Meet Alpha Dad: A New Type of Father

In the ’80s, a stay-at-home dad was a punch line. Today, fathers balance life at home and the office, and—surprise!—sometimes they’re better at it than Mom.

By Sheelah Kolhatkar from Bloomberg Businessweek
Also in Reader's Digest Magazine October 2013

Mr. Mom, Meet Alpha Dad

Finn O’Hara

Hamer has a two-year-old who goes to day care and an infant who’s currently not sleeping—he sports the dark eye circles to prove it—and at the moment his assignment takes him out of town three nights most weeks to work at a client’s office. “For me,” he says, “flexibility is more about being able to take part in morning routines and not having to worry about the commute.”

Magder has three children, ages six, four, and two. He tries to be home at least two or three times a week for dinner and bedtime. Sometimes it’s tough, he says, recalling one period when he was working 80 or 90 hours every week and was desperately short on sleep. But, he says, “most people understand that if I leave for the day, I’m just changing my [work] location.” Magder and his colleagues sound in many ways like typical MBA guys, only they’re applying the principles of efficient management to the task of parenting.

The Deloitte Dads were inspired to organize by the Deloitte mothers’ group, Career Moms, which was launched in 2007 by Anushka Grant, a consultant who has three children of her own.

Career Moms proved to be hugely popular and now has four chapters across Canada; it arranges networking opportunities for the firm’s working mothers and distributes a “survival guide” offering advice on stress management, shopping for office clothes before returning to work, and more. The 20-page memo puts to shame the maternity-leave advice buried in most companies’ HR handbooks.

Hamer pitched the dads’ equivalent of Career Moms to the firm’s management in 2010 on the basis that highlighting the company’s friendliness to working fathers would help recruit and retain the best male employees too. “It was a business case,” he says. “I presented factual arguments around why it’s actually accretive to the firm to do this.”

After the Globe and Mail newspaper published an article about the group in March, Deloitte’s chief diversity officer started getting calls from other companies wanting to learn their ways. “Welcome to Deloitte Dads, the Fraternity of Paternity,” reads one of their leaflets.

Their group found an especially friendly audience because Deloitte’s consulting arm has an “entrepreneurial, performance culture,” as Hamer puts it; the pace is demanding, and employees are expected to manage themselves. “The culture is about the work,” Hamer adds. “It allows us to not have to be in at a certain hour for the sake of it.”

Finn O'Hara

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