Twitter Is the Latest Company to Jump on the Family Leave Bandwagon
Twitter just announced that it was expanding its family-leave policy so that starting May 1, all full-time Twitter employees in the U.S. will be eligible for 20 weeks of paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child. According to The Cut, Twitter previously offered 20 weeks to mothers having babies and 10 weeks to fathers and to parents adopting children.
The shift is a good sign, because it means someone has been paying attention to gender equality when it comes to parental leave, which has an enormous effect on gender equality in the home and the office. When all the work is assumed to be the domain of the mother and fathers are not allowed out of the office, women wind up bearing the lion’s share of childcare work, and they have a harder time getting back to work and are less likely to do so. Meanwhile, fathers wind up feeling like third wheels in their own families, tasked with working and earning to support the others, but without actually getting to bond and enjoy the benefits of parenthood. It’s tough for everybody.
It’s a good sign for people who work at Twitter and at Twitter’s competitiors, but it’s still not perfect. Family leave is becoming a must-have benefit among companies that are competing for top talent. When Google and Facebook are fighting over the graduating class at MIT, paid parental leave–for all parents, regardless of gender or sexual orientation–is something candidates want to see, along with things like stock options, health insurance, and having a guy wheel a cart of fresh-baked cookies around the office all day. When big, fancy, high-profile companies are making changes like this, it means that at least people are thinking about family leave, and guys are actually starting to be able to take it without facing censure or stigmatism at the office, though there’s a long way to come with that one.
But honestly, when these benefits start getting in the news it makes me worry that politicians will think that’s it, the issue is done. See? We can all trust friendly corporations to take care of their employees on their own. It’s as though Mark Zuckerberg took paternity leave, so therefore the issue is solved, nobody needs feminism, and nobody has to worry about the parents working multiple part-time jobs and earning just enough to pay for their rent and MetroCard.
But it’s still good that paid family leave is something we’re at least talking about now, and a lot of prospective parents at Twitter are probably having a very good day today.