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Special Project

Special Project
From the 5th Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

The Pledge for Paternity Leave

Finalist in Social Movement, Gender Equality, Youth & Family, Consumer Brand


Since 2010, Dove Men+Care has been committed to expanding men’s opportunities to care by addressing stereotypes around masculinity, fatherhood and sports. In 2018, the brand grew its purpose from simply celebrating the caring role of men to driving action around an issue that’s been preventing dads from caring – the lack of paternity leave.

Through proprietary research with partners such as Promundo and The Boston College Center for Work and Family, we unearthed a powerful insight that seemed to be holding fathers back from being the best father they wanted to be: a lack of time to spend with their children starting at birth.

Our research found that on average, 85% of dads globally say they would do anything to be more involved after the birth/adoption of their child. However, of the less than 50% of countries that do offer paid leave, only 33% of dads actually used their full benefits, demonstrating that many dads still feel uncomfortable in taking paid leave due to the societal stigma they may face if they do. In the U.S., only 1 in 5 men have access to any paid paternity leave, limiting a father’s bonding time with their children, the ability to close the gender gap, and the opportunity for men to care for their families.

As a champion for care, we sought to combat this issue and help bring care to the start of these relationships at a key moment in time.

Strategy and Execution

We established a mission to make paternity leave a right for all, and to support dads in feeling safe and normal when asking for and taking leave, because no father should ever have to choose between his paycheck and his family.


Dove Men+Care found two main barriers for men taking paternity leave: a lack of access, and a lack of utilization. By gathering signatures for the Pledge for Paternity Leave,  Dove Men+Care aims to show both business and government just how great the demand for paternity leave is, so that they are persuaded to change their policies.


Policy changes are unlikely if they conflict with large-scale economic benefit and growth. However, proprietary research confirms that when dads take paternity leave, women and businesses also benefit.


The final step to driving change is facilitating a direct connection with the government officials who can approve, and ultimately pass, paid paternity leave policy, helping to change the standard for fathers nationwide.


Dove Men+Care created and encouraged all dads, allies and business leaders to sign the Pledge for Paternity Leave to show their support of every dads’ right to paid paternity leave. To meet an urgent need in the U.S. right now, we also launched the Dove Men+Care Paternity Leave Fund, a $1 million commitment to fund dads who are unable to take meaningful time off during this important life moment.

To help drive national awareness of the Pledge and the Fund, we partnered with paternity leave advocate and entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian as our campaign spokesperson. In addition, we leveraged long-time partners such as City Dads Group, Gays with Kids, Dad 2.0, Josh Levs, Dr. Wizdom Powell and Jim Higley to drive diversity, awareness and support through original content, op-eds, community events and more.

As Dove Men+Care prepared to enter the policy space, we understood the need for an expert voice to authentically connect the brand to the political landscape, so we partnered with Paid Leave for the U.S. (PL+US) – the national campaign to win paid family leave by 2022. PL+US has served as an adviser to the brand as we continue to elevate our mission to fight for policy change.

Through our efforts, Dove Men+Care identified a passionate community of dads and allies and established Advocates for Paternity Leave, a private Facebook group that helps members stay connected, informed and armed with the tools they need as activists influencing change across the country.

Last October, Dove Men+Care, PL+US, Unilever leadership, Alexis Ohanian and our Dadvocates (Paternity Leave Fund recipients turned advocates) executed a Dads Day of Action on Capitol Hill to deliver our Pledge signatures, highlight the business support for paid leave and uplift the stories of real dads from across the country.


The Pledge has earned coverage in nearly every major news outlet in America, resulting in over 2,800 earned placements and over 2.8 billion earned impressions to date. The initiative has established widespread consumer awareness around the issue, resulting in over 40,000 Pledge signatures and nearly 35,000 Fund applications since launch, and was among the leading paternity-leave related searches in 2019 Google Trends reports.

Through the Fund, we have supported 100 real dads to-date who otherwise had no meaningful time off with their new child. We have also inspired dads and allies to become advocates through our Advocates for Paternity Leave Facebook group, which has nearly 1,500 members and has generated over 400 posts and over 9,000 engagements. Members have organically carried out advocacy and spoken to the importance of paternity leave with their local legislators and media outlets.

During our Dads Day of Action, we met with 23 key legislators from both sides of the aisle – including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Bill Cassidy – as well as the House Future Forum to deliver our Pledge signatures and to raise paid family leave as a priority issue. There have been three new bills that have been drafted, endorsed or introduced by legislators who we met with that day. And in December 2019, the House or Representatives passed a historic measure to grant 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all 2.1 million civilian federal workers.


Video for The Pledge for Paternity Leave

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Edelman, Dove Men+Care


Entry Credits