Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Time to move on, but not so easy

Like many Americans, accepting the election results has been tough. It's not because I'm surprised by Hillary's historical loss (I'm not, I recognized her flaws and accepted them), it's because of how president-elect Trump won. Divisive rhetoric that at it's core was meant to ensure that white Americans who felt threatened by the United States changing demographics weren't going to be forgotten. The covert message resonated and to Samantha Bee's point, "White people. I guess ruining Brooklyn was a dry run!" (Watch it.)

During the campaign president-elect Trump constantly talked about how the election was "rigged." In his win I can finally see the truth in that statement. Hillary had the cash, the pollsters, the experience, but one thing she didn't have was the media. Trump edged her out on that front and in the end I think media spin played a significant role in killing her presidential campaign. Social and main stream television media were assets. Trump used them to his advantage. Whether I like it or not, I have to admit that was a successful tactic. One that worked and resonated with more than the people in his base.

Since the election results there's been a lot said about how Hillary lost. Having gone through my seven stages of grief I'm finally ready to move on and focus on 2018/2020. I've listened to pundits and so-called experts on both sides. While the short-term picture looks pretty grim I remind myself that failure gives us the biggest opportunity to learn and course correct. America will move forward and so must I. I still have the power to shape my country and it's just as much as my country as it's David Duke.

As a fan of history I like to look back with a focus on the future. Words from President Obama, Bernie Sanders, Steve Colbert, Michael Moore and countless others have helped to lift me up and to begin the process of moving on and looking forward. I know there's light at the end of the tunnel. Besides there's too much work to be done in the form of checks and balances to sit out on the sidelines. It's how we got president-elect Trump. It will require thought, collaboration and action. 

My issue for 2017 and beyond is paid family leave for all Americans. We need it! Middle class families needed it yesterday. I want parent's jobs to be protected so they can get more than six or eight weeks to bond with their children. Pick your issue and get behind it with everything you have. The time is now.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Millennials make paid family leave matter

When you accept a job offer, it's just not about the salary, the benefits package your potential employer will offer also matters. Overtime many workers have come to expect 401k matches, paid time off (PTO), life insurance coverage, wellness benefits, etc. But what about paid family leave for birth or adoption of a child? Currently the United States is the only industrial nation that doesn't mandate paid leave for new mothers and fathers. There have been some companies, mostly the tech sector (Facebook, Google, Amazon) bucking the trend by offering this benefit. 

However, many workers don't get paid-leave and if you are one of the lucky ones it probably only covers a woman's postpartum bonding with child for six weeks for a vaginal birth and eight weeks for a c-section under short-term disability (STD). For me the fact that we classify child birth as a disability is a part of the problem. If you can afford to stay home longer you'll get up to 12 weeks of unpaid through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but that runs concurrent with (STD). Doesn't seem fair when society echoes the sentiment that "being a parent is the most important job you'll have." Now that I am a parent I wholeheartedly believe this but I don't believe our government or private sector employee policies are adequate in helping women or men balance work and family. 

To be transparent I have a personal bias. I'm a 38 year-old new mom of twins I love and adore. I will go back to work after four short months at with them. It's tough to reconcile that if I lived north or south of the United States or in Europe I would be able to be home for a year and the company I work for would have to hold a job for at least a year. I remember when my husband thought he would receive two-weeks paid paternal leave. He got a sobering reality check when his HR department let him know their company policy only extends to his European colleagues. To bond with his new family he had to take personal time-off (PTO), but if they would have died in child birth he would get six days of paid leave to grieve. Moms aren't the only ones getting short changed. Dads too.

I'm glad to see Facebook, Google and other companies in the tech sector taking a stand, but it's not enough. We all can't work at these companies.

My message to millennials

While parental leave may not be a job benefit you care about today, if you plan to start a family in the future it's one you'll want. Advocate NOW!

Here are four things you can do:
  • Learn more, Read More in the Motherhood Manifesto.
  • Check out Momsrising (an advocacy organization promoting paid leave for parents).
  • Let you company know. Talk to an HR professional or if you prefer to stay anonymous add a comment about the importance of this issue to you in an employee engagement/satisfaction survey. (Company leaders that want to retain productive employees pay attention to what their employees say and when they say it.)
  • Let your elected official know you care about this issue for policy changes at a local and national level.
Having sufficient time to bond as a new mom and dad will make you happy and happy employees are productive employees.

Do you have a parental leave story?