Diversity Leadership My Thoughts Purpose Technology

Thank you for taking paternity leave.

I was overjoyed last Friday when Mark Zuckerberg announced that he does indeed plan to take a full two months off for paternity leave when his daughter is born.  While he’s not taking the full-time off available to him and any other Facebook employee, two months is impressive for a male CEO of such a large corporation – and lays in sharp contrast to Melissa Mayer’s plan to take a two-week maternity leave after the birth of her twins.

Zuckerberg, in addition to benefiting himself by taking time to be with his new child, is helping all of us by taking a paternity leave – and taking a “real” one at that:

He’s setting a new normal for fathers at work.  He many not be taking the full four months offered by Facebook but he (and his leadership) have always been supportive of any employee that chooses to do so.  Last year, a study out of Norway showed that men are 11% more likely to take paternity leave if they see a co-worker doing it, and the impact is even stronger when it’s a senior manager or higher.  Zuckerberg’s transparency and openness around taking leave – and taking a sizeable amount of time (hey, it’s more than the collective 1 week off my husband took for our first child and the 6 weeks off he took for our second) – means more fathers will be taking paternity leave at both Facebook and within the tech industry.  I long for the day when someone questions a father’s intention to not take paternity leave afforded to him in the same way we feel alarmed regarding Marissa Mayer’s maternity leave decision.

He’s making it ok for men to talk about babies.  There has been a lot of commentary from women in leadership that when they’re asked to speak or when they sit on a panel, the question of balancing work and family inevitably comes up – sometimes to the exclusion of topics that are more industry or expertise centered – but this rarely seems to be the case for men.  But guess what?  That’s not OK – many men who read this very blog have asked me why more men in leadership don’t talk about what they have to give up or sacrifice to be a father and have a career in today’s workplace.  And they’re right.  Women – let’s keep talking about babies so that we can help fix a broken workplace culture; Men – let’s start talking about babies so that you can be part of and benefit from the solution.

He’s proving that you can be a leader / part of leadership but still make time for what’s important to you outside of work.  Many senior leaders or CEOs on par with Zuckerberg’s status and responsibility level wouldn’t dream of completely disconnecting from their positions and taking a paternity leave of two months.  If it’s a male leader, the idea of taking a leave beyond a few days for the birth of a new child isn’t really discussed.  But just by taking this leave, Mark Zuckerberg is showing that taking time to experience important things in your life that may not be job related, like the birth of a child or caring for a parent, is necessary, acceptable and shouldn’t be hidden or done in secrecy.

Thank you Mark!  We wish you and Priscilla all the best with the arrival of your daughter!

Have Kids, Will Work

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