You took 8 weeks of Paternity Leave!

At the end of January 2017, my wife and I welcomed our second child, a beautiful daughter, into this world. When a family welcomes a new baby, it is an exciting and joyful time, as well as an exhausting experience. While it is most common that a mother takes off from work, both parents may need time off from work to bond with their baby (and to sleep!).

I wanted to take time off, but I am the type of person that has a hard time disconnecting in the “always-on” world and I often bring my work home with me. The pace is so fast that it is hard to stop and live life in the moment.

Through Accenture’s Truly Human initiative with Thrive Global, I know that I am not alone. I know that Accenture is on a mission to enable the entire organization to be the most Truly Human in the digital age by helping its employees to succeed both professionally and personally.

It is an amazing experience for parents to see their child’s first smile, first laugh, first roll-over… not to mention all the other firsts in a child’s first year of life. It is just not the same to hear about it from someone else as it is to see it for yourself. I wanted to have this experience, and was pleasantly surprised to hear that Accenture offers 8 weeks of paid parental leave to the “primary” caregiver. Yes, I said 8 whole weeks!

However, I questioned if it was the right move for me to take the whole amount of leave. After all, how often do you actually see someone who is not the mother taking off more than 2 weeks? But, my wife was starting to go back to work, and I knew it would be helpful to her if I took the leave. I also realized the amazing opportunity that I would have to bond with our newborn daughter and three-year-old son and how beneficial it would be for them if I took an extended time off!

I was worried about the need to justify to others my taking time off at work. When I thought about the potential time off, more questions started popping into my head:

• What reaction will I get from my peers about taking paternity leave?

• Will the team still need me when I return?

• Will I be able to meet and exceed my quota?

• Will this parental leave affect my bonus?

My most important question was: will taking leave have an adverse impact on my professional life? I sure hope not! But, I can tell you this much — the time off had a tremendously positive impact on my personal life and I will be forever grateful to Accenture for this opportunity. And no matter what, that personal experience was worth it.

I want to thank all my peers, managers and mentors who supported me in taking the time off. As I return and complete my first week back in the office, I don’t see any negative impact from taking leave or have any regrets. Working at Accenture, where I can be Truly Human and bring my whole self to work, is one of the top items I am grateful for. I am proud of what Accenture is achieving and of the work it is doing to shape the world into which my daughter was welcomed.

In my next post, I will share some things to consider and tips as you contemplate taking parental leave.

Dan Eckstein is a Senior Manager in Accenture’s Financial Services practice and the Lead of Accenture’s Interfaith Employee Resource Group in the NY Metro area.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn on May 23, 2017.

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