Male CEOs Are Split on the Importance of Paternity Leave

miamiThe Miami Herald asked a panel of CEOs about paternity leave. Some male CEOs supported it, but others seem stuck in the Dark Ages.

Fact: Paternity leave benefits dads, kids, moms and families, and even improves the bottom line.

Fact: One becomes CEO after either founding a company and, through insanely hard work, making it thrive, OR by putting in intense hours at work for a few decades.

Fact: Most male CEOs today have at-home wives, and have not had to directly confront the same types of work-family challenges that most of their workforce faces.

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Further Thoughts on the “CEO Dads”: Schireson and El-Erian

Change is more likely to happen when the new generation of men in positions of corporate leadership see work-family not as a theoretical issue or one that only effects women but rather as something they see as a real challenge in their own lives

* Quick programming note. I’ll be part of a parent panel for Fox and Friends tomorrow (10/4) morning at around 9:20am. And next week, I’ll be featured both in an article and in a video interview with the Globe and Mail (Canada’s newspaper of record). Stay tuned for details.

Over the past few weeks, two CEOs, PIMCO’s Mohamed El-Erian and MongoDB’s Max Schireson, made headlines by stepping down in order to be more involved fathers. I reported on both, and even interviewed Schireson for the Wall Street Journal. Thanks to reader feedback here and at WSJ, I have some further thoughts on the relative importance of their actions.

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Another CEO Chooses Fatherhood: PIMCO’s Mohamed El-Erian

When PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian was confronted by his daughter with a list of milestones and important family events he missed, he reconsidered his life and career goals and decided to step down. Here’s his story, and why it represents another indicator that work-family balance is a dads’ issue, too.

Former PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian prioritized family over career
Former PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian prioritized family over career (creative commons: Flickr)

Hopefully, as companies give more attention to the importance of work-life balance, more and more people will be in a better position to decide and act more holistically on what’s important to them -Mohamed El-Erian

About a month ago, Max Schireson stepped down as CEO of booming internet database company MongoDB. CEOs step aside for a variety of reasons, but Schireson’s was noteworthy- he publicly declared his decision as one he made so he could be a more involved father, and he also used this opportunity to speak to the larger issue of the work-family challenges faced by dads. I reported on this story when it broke and also interviewed him for the Wall Street Journal about his reflections on the decision a few weeks afterwards.

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CEO Steps Down To Be A More Involved Dad

Yesterday, Max Schireson stepped down as CEO of MongoDB, a successful and growing software company, in order to be a more involved father. He used this opportunity to give voice to the work-family struggles of today’s fathers. Why his work-family role modeling is so important.

I hope that me telling this story in my position will help others feel more comfortable in making similar choices and help people in senior leadership roles be more public about it. – Max Schireson

Max Schireson downshifted from his CEO role to be more present with his family
Max Schireson downshifted from his CEO role to be more present with his family

In his own words:

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Leading By Example: EY’s CEO Mark Weinberger on Work and Family

At the recent White House Summit on Working Families, Ernst & Young’s CEO Mark Weinberger told an anecdote that, to me, represents our best hope that corporate leadership is finally recognizing the importance of work-family balance and will begin to sincerely address this issue.

EY's CEO Mark Weinberger (center) spoke about his personal work-family balance priorities at the White House Summit on Working Families
EY’s CEO Mark Weinberger (center) spoke about work-family balance at the White House Summit on Working Families

The White House Summit was a glitzy affair- The President, Vice President, the First Lady, Nancy Pelosi, Gloria Steinem, Robin Roberts and other bigwigs all spoke about the importance of supporting working families.

However, for me, one of the standouts of the Summit was the understated CEO of EY, Mark Weinberger. He spoke during the first panel discussion (along with Economist Claudia Goldin, entrepreneur Makini Howell, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, and moderator Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic) about how supporting family is also good for business.

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