Panel — Making the Case for Paid Paternity Leave

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Making the Case for Paid Paternity Leave

Moderator Scott Behson (@scottbehson)


Michael Kaufman (@GenderEQ)
Phil Cowan
Carolyn Cowan
Will Neville-Rehbehn (@willneville)

Small mighty crowd…

Scott Behson (SB) – I know i’m preaching to choir here at 2.0 — but we need to raise the awareness globally

taking about 4 points
1. What is the state of paternity leave in the USA (short conversations) – group laugh
2. The importance of paternity leave for moms and dads families and kids
3. Navigating our options
4. How we, as influencers, can make the case for Paternity Leave

Michael Kaufman — white ribbon campaign — stop violence against women

Dr. Phil and Carolyn Cowan — professors at Berkeley
their Book — “When partners become parents — the big life change for couples…”


Paternity Leave is good for:

  • Dads & Kids: Dads who can take PL are more involved in childcare throughout their kids’ lives. Involved fatherhood is associated with increased health, cognitive development, success in school, avoiding legal trouble, and with exposing kids to egalitarian ideas and career paths (especially for girls)
  • Moms: Moms aren’t left to do it alone while recovering. Dads with PL more likely to share care and household tasks over time. Moms with husbands who take leave and are involved are less likely to “opt out” of the workplace and damage their careers.
  • Employers: Data from California’s program shows that over 88% of employers reported no effect or positive effect of state parental leave policy. Many employers cite better ability to recruit and retain key talent, as well as increase employee engagement and commitment.

But, Paternity Leave is all too rare:

  • Fewer than 14% of private employers offer paid PL
  • In a survey of white-collar dads, 75% cobbled together a week or less of accumulated time off. 18% took no time off. Many cited the fear of being perceived as unmanly or uncommitted, harming career prospects.
  • The situation is almost assuredly worse for hourly employees and blue-collar dads

Some good news:

  • 3 States (California, New Jersey and Rhode Island) have paid parental leave policies. Use by dads increasing
  • The FAMILY Act introduced in Congress would expand this nationwide
  • The USA greatly expanded PL for federal employees and will subsidize new state programs
  • More private employers are embracing paid PL. More male CEOs speaking out
  • 2014 EEOC Guidelines offer hope for expanded access to PL

What can you do?

  • Spread the word about the gap between where we are and where we need to be
  • Support social policy Get women on board
  • Tell stories of dads who took leave and how it changed their families
  • Encourage employers (
Scott Behson: – “So what is the state of Paternity leave in USA?”

Will NR: — This is a wildly exciting time for PL (Paternity Leave)– there is a ground swell of support
few nations left without PL — its a great social safety net – built by other countries

Corporate led landscape here — companies are changing — if want to keep top talent – they need to be offer PL — benefits — shift and trend that is getting traction
more movement to working families to prosper
PL entered into state of union address for the first time…

SB: 14% companies have paid PL in place
Certain industries — big 4 accounting firms — all have PL
1 had it first — then all followed suit
competitive dynamic that attracted new hires
flexibility and work life balance structures

Michael Kaufman (MK): language is important
PL — restrictive set of policies for father after birth of child
get away from Maternal or parental leave — PARENT leave
make it parental leave not just dads or moms
more adaptive — if gay or LGBT couples –more inclusive
Is there hope in the USA? grim now but change is coming
Nordic countries — how do we help men TAKE PL leave
so that it is not hurting career — remove the stigma of taking leave

4% were taking leave… 1993
now some companies doing “Daddy days” — 4 weeks for dads — use it or lose it model
89% took the days in 2013 — use it or lose it — dads used it

Has to be well paid — non transferable time — must be just for dad

In countries where no father quota — backlash — from moms – -taking time away from moms?
in Iceland – 3 months for Mom, 3 months for dad and 3 months to be shared

IN US — it’s good — drawing from blank slate – take what is working best in other countries

SB: — California, Rhode island, new jersey) have programs in place
should tax payer pay it or company?
31% OF LEAVES taken by fathers now in these studies in California – change is coming

importance of PL — why should we have it?

Phil Cowan (PC): 3 kinds of people need ammo — policy makers need facts, companies need facts, dads need facts
fathers need to know how important they are.

Research — tons of benefits to father involvement

educational benefits — math, reading, higher incomes, problem solving, empathy, moral sensitivity, less aggressive, not in jail, delay sexual activity
payoffs for dads – healthy, live longer, less aggressive, less depressed, pay child support if involved, need access to children to pay support
moms — lower depressed,more satisfied with relationship

huge impact for whole family
produces more stable families

state of relationship with mom — best indicator of dads involvement – how do they get along?
is mom a gate keeper?
can parents work together — co parent?

if all fathers all took Parental leave — dad moving into moms domain — that has implications

mom wants dad to do it her way not his way
if relationship between parents is positive, parents can be more effective parents

good parents can set limits, be more nurturing, more effective parents

Carolyn Cowan (CC):
studies between dads involvement and kids
strengthen relationship between parents before first child – did studies 3 months before
watching so many families collapse under the stress of kids

help couples thru transition to parents
results — from no help, dads only help, or couples help — 3 groups

couples group — fathers involvement grows, satisfaction in relationship grows… reduced parenting stress, parents more effective… strengthens parenting relationship
greater relationship and confidence for kids — many many benefits

always working with both parents — not just moms or dads

even if they worked in company where PL is offer, why dads don’t take it? Not seen as a partner material —

SB: had never changed a diaper or read a book
easy to do diapers, staying up all night — that’s the tough work
experience child through different lens
in the same book as wife, maybe not same page
great opportunity for dads — wished more dads had this opportunity

CC: – not looking for 50/50 shared everything – -is it fair? do what’s best for the family — do they have the support to make the best family decision?

SB: — moms less likely to opt out of the work place if dad can do it.

MK: – -for every month of dads leave, women’s incomes have increased…no break in employee can hurt your trajectory for your job..

Audience point — help couples negotiate what they want — not looking at all the norms — help diversity to thrive and be creative in how they take leave

Help them over come obstacles and not give up on getting a leave

SB: – -what are the options for dads?
medical leave act – -unpaid leave — 12 weeks — 60% of workforce supported
if freelancers you can’t do it

EEOC new guidelines — if company is offering maternity leave — they must offer care and bonding leave to dads to — or being discriminate against dads (Josh Levs case)
take a look at Maternity leaves for your company – you may have a legal right you don’t know about

W: — navigate options — we don’t have control over your options — company policies
visibility to motherhood that fatherhood lacks
for men = we don’t hear about male CEOs that are having baby but we do hear about female CEO that are pregnant or had a baby — why the double standard?

Men will leave a job on cusp of birth to look for benefits —
new companies don’t realize they are losing good people to birth and not having good benefits

how do make this argument to companies?

fundamentally – its a human resources issue — if want to change policy its a HR policy

first necessary for modern work force

expectations are there

milleninials are asking for this in job interviews

competitiveness for companies — must have benefits that attract

Women’s advancement — how do we help women succeed in your company? is it derailed by forcing her to make decisions
equalize burden of care at home… give men parental leave

Even though your job is protected by law, you will be passed over
prioritizing fatherhood to decrease mother stigmatism
make it equal —

Business is a force for social good. family and flexibility are feel good stories — good to be first in the sector to be the change

Expectations being always on…
Facebook has incredible options —

Rather have worker — prioritize family – make that the norm

Please post for all employees to see
What are the options available for parental leave? goes beyond policy —

larger issue — family services are 90% for women —
change the research to look at dads —

W: — social norms need to be changed but reality is that policy matters because it has to be paid — must be paid — cannot sacrifice $$ for time with kids
*** need paid time to prioritize kids and families

MK: – what are realistic changes? how can we get around the politics of this?
reclaim family values — put our money where your mouth is

How do we make parental leave a reality in our life time?

is it a the corporate level or the societal level?

no financial model for what they were doing
we just know we need to change
this is what doing it right now

SB:- policy is important — companies will out compete each other — we need to have a society where it is for everyone — not just upper level workers — its for bartenders, field workers…

Bank of America has 12 weeks leave but we need to expand it to everyone

deep culture is keeping dads from taking the leave on the tables..

;- navy — 10 days of leave — he thought it was crap but actually good

military noticed pushing for more women in navy – but how can women advance if take leave
career intermission program — 3 years can pick up where you are
keep benefits throughout the 3 years (but unpaid)

Men caught on — wasn’t worded for just women — men are using

W: – government is the largest employer — needs to set bar — active shifts in the employer
can’t change employment policy but can change at a lower level.

Michael — Kimmel — make financial argument
tons of benefits out there — make the financial case
put their money where they mouth isn’t
“too damn expensive” – they say – — we have to look at how
gender inequality is already costing you big money
not having this is MORE expensive for your company
hire economists to get you the numbers

cheaper — good business to do it

get companies to start thinking about it by having programs

DNI umbrella should include not only the LGBT, but also dads…

SB: – -PL is a no brainer economically — need to beat middle management to see it
CEOS can see it — need the middle people to see it
need to keep this guy long term — but middle management looks at bottom line..

Educate on the benefits == both financially and societally!