As if we needed another reason why we need more women in leadership!
Last week, I wrote about a Miami Herald CEO Roundtable in which they asked various male and female CEOs about paternity leave. Did they feel it was important? Do they offer it?
The responses of the male CEOs was decidedly mixed. Ranging from the depressing:
I personally do not think male employees need a paternity leave option. Therefore, it is not something we offer.
To the hopeful:
Yes, male employees should have the option. Our company is pretty progressive when it comes to family leave. We offer paid maternity/paternity leave to our employees as needed. Many of our male employees, including myself, have young children and wives who work outside of the home, so we understand the importance of having such an option available to us.
It seemed to me that the key differentiating factor for male CEOs was whether he had grappled with work-family balance challenges in his own life. Those who mentioned their own work-family juggle tended to be supportive. In contrast, those who seemed to have relied upon their at-home spouses while they went off to conquer the business world generally were not supportive.
For male executives, personal experience lent them a perspective that helped them realize the need to support working parents of both genders.
However, the female CEOs in the Miami Herald roundtable were uniform in their support for paternity leave. Perhaps because of their gender and personal experiences, they were more in tune with the need to support working dads. After all, support for working dads help moms both at work and at home. Here are some of the female CEOs responses:
Yes. It’s a win-win when companies support employees through life issues large and small. Our employee-driven workplace believes in allowing time off for both men and women.
Yes, of course; men are needed at home just as moms are at the start of a child’s life. We do offer it to our staff.
YES and YES. Parental leave is a critical need and benefit that is offered in every industrialized country EXCEPT the U.S. We need to support programs that support families and children to create a better society for all. My Canadian nephews all took 6 months off, of the one year that Canada offers for maternity leave, to bond with their babies and claim that it was the best experience of their lives. My son works for the Department of the Navy so he also took paternity leave and LOVED it! He needed it because he had premature twins that required weeks at the hospital and at home before he could leave his family with any confidence.
Yes, I believe male employees should be given that option and we do offer Child Care Leave for both men and women. Even more important than offering it, companies should strive to create a culture that encourages men to take advantage of that leave. Enabling fathers to take time to bond with and care for their new child benefits not only the home and family, but also the future of the mother’s career if she chooses to have one outside of the home.
Despite the overall mixed message from the CEO Roundtable, I find the responses encouraging, especially since more women and men for whom work-family juggles are or have been real challenges in their lives will be rising to corporate leadership positions over time. That’s when progress will really take off.
What do you think about the views of male and female CEOs? Any stories to share? Let’s discuss in the comments.
Like the article? Think it would make for a good facebook, reddit or twitter conversation? Then please share it using the buttons below. You can also follow the blog via email, facebook or twitter. And, of course, remember to buy my book. Thanks!