Mark Zuckerberg is stepping away from his $245 billion company to put in a little diaper duty *considers a number of jokes comparing corporations to a diaper’s contents.* In anticipation of the biggest Like of his life, Zuckerberg announced he would be taking two months off after his first child is born (he did not mention if his leave would be paid, bless him; hope he doesn’t have to dig in to his $37.8 billion savings.) Mark and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, struggled with miscarriages and are clearly excited to be welcoming what we all hope is a healthy baby girl later this year. It is fairly rare for a CEO of a multi-billion dollar company to take much family leave; Marissa Mayer of Yahoo famously announced she was only taking two weeks maternity leave – paid, the freeloader. Mark released the following statement on Facebook saying that his reason for the extended departure is to be “fully present for his daughter:”
“Priscilla and I are starting to get ready for our daughter’s arrival. We’ve been picking out our favorite childhood books and toys. We’ve also been thinking about how we’re going to take time off during the first months of her life.”
How do I put this put this delicately? This country’s Family and Medical Leave policy sucks. As rough as it is for mothers, the non-birthing parent still endures the stigma of society thinking they don’t need any form of leave. If Mark is taking two months off, is that equal to what he gives his employees? No, because his employees are given four months of paid leave. What? Wait, isn’t Facebook the evil citadel where social decency goes to die? In addition to leave, employees receive $4000 in “baby cash” (is anyone else flashing back to turning your babies in for cash at the end of the board game Life?) Facebook’s family leave policy is not only generous it’s impartial – biological parents, adoptive parents, all forms of coupling and single parents share the same benefits. This is in contrast to Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Pinterest and Twitter who offer mothers more paid leave than fathers and gives additional paid leave to biological parents than adoptive. In fairness, both Google and Yahoo help offset the cost of adoption, so I suppose they see it as a financially equal policy.
Let’s first take a minute to applaud Mr. Zuckerberg for his (what is tragically considered) forward thinking for the health of the family. Secondly, setting the example that a person heading a Fortune 500 company can publicly prioritize his newborn child over his business is a great discussion starter. Maybe he runs back to the office screaming, “I can’t figure that damn thing out!” or overindulges in the Happy Hours his company offers but it puts the conversation on the table.
In addition, he has fed right into the throbbing pulse of Silicon Valley that is competition; Facebook, Reddit, Apple, Adobe and Amazon have all modified their family leave policies to stay current in the playing field. Netflix’s chess move was to extend their “keep it as long as you want” DVD policy to its employees and offers unlimited paid family leave for an unprecedented year. Your move, Zuckerberg.