A network as a voice for fathers

ERGO CDO Mark Klein at the nationwide fathers' network conference

Magazine, 24.11.2020

Fathers need a voice in companies. This is exactly where fathers' networks come in. At the German-wide meeting of fathers' networks, which this time took place completely digitally, they discussed how mobile working from home influences the role of the father and whether part-time work is already a model for them. ERGO CDO Mark Klein was present as sponsor of the ERGO network.

ERGO CDO Mark Klein at the nationwide fathers' network conference

How can fathers' networks be better positioned and more visible in the future? That was the central question at the nationwide meeting of fathers' networks. Mark Klein, Chief Digital Officer at ERGO and sponsor of the fathers' network at ERGO, was also present and explained the added value of the fathers' network from the perspective of top management. "Mark Klein is an absolute multiplier for the fathers' network," said Volker Baisch from Väter gGmbH, the organizer of the meeting. Klein fulfills an important function. "He is a father himself and therefore personally knows what the needs and challenges are for fathers."

Focus on mobile working from home

At the beginning, Mark Klein gave personal insights into the period of the first coronavirus lockdown. "My wife and I had to well organize the homeschooling with the children," recalls the ERGO CDO. "We then divided it up according to subjects. I took physics, English and French." Working at home was quite challenging, he says. But one result of the coronavirus pandemic is that mobile working from home will continue to play a major role in the future. For Klein it is clear anyway: "It is not only the mothers who take care of the children, but also the fathers."

Mark Klein believes that mobile working from home will lead to an ever-increasing mix between career and family.  The willingness of fathers to work from home has become much greater. But this would make it much easier for them to combine family with career. Klein is convinced that we need to get away from the traditional working hours in general. "We need more flexibility in order for fathers to be able to fulfill their role with their children. Work must become more family-friendly and therefore also more father-friendly. "For example, today I'm in meetings from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. It would be nice if you could create a little space for yourself. In the end, what counts in the job is the output and in Germany we are often still too much driven by input."

Part time for fathers? Of course!

Another important topic: part-time work for fathers. However, this is not yet in sight in Germany, says Mark Klein. But it will come. ERGO is also the most women-friendly employer in Germany because of its part-time models. Fathers could also benefit from this. "In Holland, this is completely normal," says Klein about his time in the Netherlands. "But there, society as a whole is also equipped for such a model." Germany still has some catching up to do in terms of part-time working for fathers. "But I hope that this will change soon, because it is a desirable model," says Klein.

For Mark Klein, the network of fathers is the voice of fathers. "It is a platform where fathers can meet, talk about their challenges and develop a common view on a topic." This view can then also be communicated to top management. "A single voice is lost," believes Klein. "It takes such a network." Communicating the specific needs of fathers from childcare to flexible working is the core role of the network of fathers.

Mark Klein's double role as sponsor

His role as sponsor of the network of fathers is understood by Mark Klein as a double role. On the one hand, he is the representative of the top management in the fathers' network. On the other hand, he acts as a spokesperson of the network into the board of Directors. "So I have both perspectives in focus and bring them into a dialogue." That way, Klein can bring the needs of fathers to the board and ensure that the stakeholders are connected. 

The role of the networks of fathers will become more important in the future - the participants of the meeting agreed on that. They need structures that allow them to live the role of fathers and care for children and at the same time make an important contribution to the company. So there are still a few challenges to be overcome for the fathers' networks - for the voice of the fathers.  

From Benjamin Esche

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