If you hear a man chooses to work part-time so his wife could work full-time and advance in her career, how would you react?
Would you be surprised? Would it seem strange? Or perhaps you’d nod with appreciation and support?
Whatever your reaction, it’s undeniable that the concept of a man choosing to work part-time for his family still seems unusual to some.
But that’s exactly the story of Brett Maynard – a Business Leader at Stantec’s Transport Planning & Advisory division – who chose to work part-time so his wife could continue flourishing in her career.
It sounds extraordinary, but it’s something that Brett hopes won’t seem exceptional someday.
“I think there’s still a lot of unconscious bias involved around men having to be the breadwinner in a household, despite parenting being a joint effort.”
“Even the idea that a man would only choose to work part-time to care for his family is a bias I hope one day disappears too. There are other reasons part-time work could be preferred.”
For now, Brett is out there proving that working part-time doesn’t mean sacrificing your career or being less committed to it.
Part-time employee, full-time parent
For Brett, stepping back from full-time to part-time work was ultimately an easy choice.
“If working part-time gives you the ability to be an active parent, why wouldn’t you?”
He recounts how he and his wife made this decision together.
“My wife and I are both engineers, and we progressed our careers to senior leadership roles simultaneously. We also have two young girls, eight and five years old. Last year, we were discussing balance and how to manage our careers with the needs of our children and how we can be more present for them. From there, we made the decision that I would step back to give my wife the space and time to step up.”
The way Brett saw it, going part-time was win-win.
His wife could continue rising through the ranks in her senior leadership role while he would have the opportunity to be more involved in his daughters’ lives.
“It’s not just the big events I get to be a better part of. It’s also the incremental things: seeing their confidence improve with school activities, knowing their friends’ names, seeing them spell new words, and getting better at maths.
“Work will always be there. But this time with my young kids – it’s more fleeting and therefore precious.”
Making part-time work for him: It’s not the hours, it’s the outcomes
One of the reasons why shifting to part-time work was so easy for Brett was the fact that his colleagues at Stantec understood that his performance would not change.
“I’ve got the same energy and commitment to my team I always had as a full-timer.”
Brett has been working at Stantec for over fifteen years, so his commitment and ability to perform were never really in question. But he acknowledges that working-from-home has played a big part in the success of his arrangement.
“I still work a five-day week, but with reduced hours across the week. It’s not an arrangement I would have considered if I had to be in a traditional in-office arrangement. Hybrid has made it possible.”
But a flexible working arrangement isn’t the only reason he continues to work for Stantec.
“There are many consulting firms out there that provide similar flexible arrangements. But Stantec’s values strongly align with mine. Our values, our community focus, and our commitment to excellence in what we do and having a diversity of projects have been really important.”
And then he adds the clincher:
“With our team and at Stantec, there’s a focus on outcomes, not on hours in.”
Can part-time work helping men be better leaders?
Many people think that working part-time to spend more time with family means sacrificing career progression.
But Brett just doesn’t see it that way.
“You can have a successful career and be a successful father. It’s not either-or.”
He tells us that the balance that part-time work provides has made him a more empathetic and well-rounded leader.
“It gives me a better perspective. I’m more conscious of others’ arrangements and not expecting people to be available all the time.”
“I think one of the key things in part-time arrangements is flexibility in both directions. Work when things need to get done, both planned and unplanned. But also create those boundaries and take that time with your family.”
Breaking the stigma around men working part-time
If there’s one thing that Brett’s story has shown, it’s that the long-held views on men and their careers are quickly fading.
“The days of fathers spending all day at work and only seeing kids at night should no longer the norm.
“The expectations have changed. I have seen male colleagues taking extended parental leave over the past few years. I’ve also seen scenarios where families decide to have one parent stay home for up to six months and then swapping.”
“It makes good sense. And it sets up the expectation equity from the very beginning of the parenting journey.”