“New School” CEOs Zuckerberg and Mycoskie Walk the Talk on Paternity Leave

My paternity leave was important to me, buyt Mycoiskie and Zuckerberg paternity leave are important for the business world
My paternity leave was important to me, but Mycoskie and Zuckerberg paternity leave are important for the business world

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes are “new school” male CEOs who are sending an important message about the importance of fatherhood relative to business and how an involved home life goes together with financial success.

After all, if Facebook can survive without Zuckerberg for two months and TOMS can get by without Mycoskie for 12 weeks, what excuse do other top managers have for not taking or not providing extended paternity leave? Here are my thoughts on this exciting development.

Zuckerberg Paternity Leave

Last week, my Facebook feed was flooded with people sending me the following Facebook post from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg:

zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg and his paternity leave message!

Here is one of the most famous figures in global business- the man who disrupted an entire economy and created the world’s largest global social platform-  announcing that he will be taking two month’s paternity leave when his child is born. He doesn’t make a big political statement out of this, but simply states that parental leave is good for families, right there in the middle of a personal, heart-felt message:

Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families. At Facebook we offer our US employees up to 4 months of paid maternity or paternity leave which they can take throughout the year.

And he’s right! Research does show that paternity leave is good for kids, parents and families. He leaves out that it is good for business (my article from Quartz a while back makes a definitive business case- I also explain in my book)

It is incredibly encouraging that Zuckerberg is talking two months of paternity leave. This sends a message to managers and leaders throughout the business world. Even better is that Facebook also provides 4 months parental leave to both new moms and new dads.

Mycoskie Paternity Leave

TOMS shoes CEO Mycoskie and his son (photo from his article in Glamour)
TOMS shoes CEO Mycoskie and his son (photo from his article in Glamour)

Earlier this year, Blake Mycoskie took 12 weeks of paternity leave when his son, Summit, was born. He wrote about his life-changing experience in Glamour Magazine. He describes how his paternity leave helped him learn about gratitude, the importance of caring for others, and the importance of self-care. He found that unplugging and getting away gave  him a huge creative boost once he returned to work.

He concludes:

 

Frankly, it’s nuts that more companies haven’t figured out what a win-win paid family leave is. The Family and Medical Leave Act requires companies with more than 50 employees to give new parents up to 12 weeks off—but that’s without pay, and plenty of families can’t afford to miss a single paycheck. Dads especially, who are still the primary breadwinners in 60 percent of households, miss out on an incredible opportunity to bond with their kids. That’s a loss for families and also for companies. I have a hugely talented friend who could afford to take only one week off when his son was born; he was so upset that he left for a new job. What a loss to that company! So my pitch to bosses everywhere is this: Support family leave. If your employees don’t return to work more creative and productive than before, I’ll be so shocked I’ll send you a Toms bag.

He hasn’t sent a bag yet.

I’ve long believed that the work-family challenges that dads face will continue to rise in perceived importance as a new generation of male and female executives rise to top levels. Most current CEOs understand work-family as a business issue, but they do not have the personal experience with work-family juggling or the perspective that Gen Xers and Millennials have acquired by seeing their parents struggle with work-family balance.

Mark Zuckerberg and Blake Mycoskie, I think, are in the vanguard. But many more will follow in both providing and taking extended parental leave. Once the business norms catch up to how most of us live our lives, I believe, we will see significant progress.

What do you think about Mycoiskie and Zuckerberg paternity leave? Let’s discuss in the comments.

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