In the tech industry, paid leave is becoming a sought-after benefit for employees, and for employers like Spotify, Twitter, Etsy, Netflix, it’s become an explicit priority. But, as Rebecca Greenfield writes at Bloomberg, these policies are made feasible partly because the tech workforce is still mostly male.
For these companies, progressive family leave comes at a relatively low price. It’s cheaper to offer paid leave to a male-heavy workforce, because men tend to take less time off than new mothers. Twitter, as of 2014, was 70 percent male. The company hopes women will make up 35 percent of the company by 2016. Many tech companies have similarly imbalanced staffs. Facebook, per its diversity report, is 68 percent male; men hold 80 percent of Netflix’s tech jobs, according to its diversity report. Etsy is the rare tech company exception to this imbalance, with 54 percent of employees identifying as female.
Greenfield writes that men don’t take leave for a variety of personal reasons, one of which is that they report feeling judged for using the paternity time off they’re given. To “lead by example,” Mark Zuckerberg recently took two of the four months Facebook offers new dads, and Twitter and Etsy have held seminars to teach both employees and managers how to work around family leave absences smoothly.
The hopeful idea is that these policies will trickle down in the future, but offering generous family leave is of course easier for well-funded, mostly-male tech companies than it is for other companies. It’s encouraging that cities like New York City and San Francisco are passing progressive paid leave legislation to force this issue from the other direction.
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