By Pauline Millard, Ellevate Network Content Strategist

Family leave is hot a topic among Ellevate Network members and in the media. (Ellevate member Jessica Shortall gave an amazing Tedx Talk about the struggles many working families face after having a baby.) We regularly ask the Ellevate community how they feel about important topics, such as family leave.

About 56% of Ellevate Members get some form of paid maternity leave. While this is a start, many feel that there is room for improvement.

“Paid parental leave should apply no matter the sector, no matter the gender, no matter whether it's a biological birth or adoption. I suspect most people will support them first (paid at the national level), but smaller organizations and companies will not support the second (paid at the company level).” - Caroline

Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that he plans to take two months paternity leave. Most of the women in the Ellevate community felt that this was a step in the right direction but Zuckerburg’s situation is unique since he has the job seniority and financial resources to manage this length of leave. Also noted was that Facebook’s four-month paid family leave policy for men and women is an outlier. Most companies don’t offer that sort of flexibility.

“I think he did cast a vote for fathers to be hands on and support their wives. Birthing a  child takes a physical toll. I'm in my thirties and I feel like we are redefining what a    modern woman looks like. For families to continue, the old world motto of the man works and comes home to veg doesn't fly anymore.” - Alexia
"Yes, absolutely. Even if he works from home or comes back early, who cares? It brings paternity leave to the forefront which is more important to gender equality than extending maternity leave or allowing women to freeze their eggs (Google). Gender equality isn't just about what we can do to keep moms in the workplace. It's about expecting both parents to take the same amount of leave for their newborns. Only then will we erase unequal expectations for women as primary caretakers. - Jenny

“Zuckerberg’s ‘decision’ creates awareness, but truthfully he could afford to take that   time, paid or unpaid, and most folks could not. Many small companies cannot afford to lose key employees for that long a period of time either, so there are two sides to be considered.” - Dona

Even if you don’t have children -- or don’t plan on having any more -- a company’s family leave policy could affect your decision to work for them. In October, more than half of the Ellevate community expressed this sentiment via our poll.

“Although maternity leave isn't personally relevant to me, I believe the status of maternity leave within a non-governmental organization is a powerful indicator of my opportunities there as a woman. I interpret the decision of a company that allows women adequate maternity leave to mean something like 'women are valued here enough that we want them to come back to us and continue to do great work.' -    Maggie

 

“Even though I don't have kids.I want to work with a company whose financial investments demonstrate clear value of the role of women to their bottom line. If choosing between two companies, such policies would absolutely impact my choice.” -     Supriya

Starting conversations about issues like these raises an awareness, which leads to activism and change. There are many companies, like Power to Fly and Inkwell, that are run by Ellevate members that focus specifically on skilled flex work.

“Science has proven that [parental leave] is best for all involved: from better developed family ties to more balanced parents and more. It's important to take the stance that this IS important, whether you have children or not. - Jennifer