Visible Hands: Sorry, Mom 💘
“The U.S. is the only high-income country in the world that doesn’t offer even a single day of maternity leave” - UNICEF’s Office of Research
Reminder: this Sunday is Mother’s Day!
COVID-19 continues to challenge families around the world, particularly parents trying to juggle educating at home and working from home (Jonas Brothers, they’re just like you).
Child care is crucial to understanding diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and the lack thereof. In her research on MBA graduates, Claudia Goldin, a Harvard economist, found that childless women had earnings outcomes similar to those of men; however, once women had children and needed to take a “career interruption”, earnings fell and certain women dropped out of the labor force. If you needed any more reason to appreciate moms, remember that the burden of taking time off for a newborn primarily falls on mothers. Men do not take significant paternity leave, even in the rare instances when it is offered, with most fathers taking less than 10 days off. In fact, surveyed men said they wanted at least 70% of their salaries in order to take paternity leave.
It’s important to remember that the majority of American mothers are working:almost 70% of American women with children under age 18 are employed. Most American companies cover a measly 1% of child care costs, which can amount to more than college tuition in 28 U.S. States!
Research found that about 33% of highly educated American women drop out of the workforce every year, and 74% of them say the lack of decent child care is the primary reason why. And household work is not usually divided evenly across gender.
In America’s current work environment, there is seemingly an “overwork” premium, which creates additional strain on work/life balance. Goldin noted “To maximize the family’s income but still keep the children alive, it’s logical for one parent to take an intensive job and the other to take a less demanding one. It just so happens that in most couples, if there’s a woman and a man, the woman takes the back seat.”
To make matters worse, there is something known as the “motherhood penalty” and “fatherhood bonus.” Studies show that men’s average earnings increased more than 6% when they had children (if they lived with them), while women’s decreased 4% for each child they had--all because of employer expectations around productivity.
And for those thinking about becoming parents -- is it time to move to Estonia? Embarrassingly, the U.S. is the only high-income country without any paid parental leave policy. Although the Family and Medical Leave Act offers some unpaid leave, “only 60% of the workforce is eligible for FMLA protections because small employers are exempt [and] not all employees are eligible.” You heard that right. If you are in the 40% of the workforce that is ineligible and don’t live in a state with a more generous policy, you better hope the stork can act as a caretaker too.
As a citizen:
Paid Leave for the United States (PL+US) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit working towards national paid family leave by 2022. Learn more about their current campaigns and sign their open petitions, as well as donate to their cause!
As an employee:
Be informed! Fairy Godboss (think Glassdoor for women) is a good resource to understand the policies at various workplaces.
Urge your company to do more for new parents, even if you aren’t a parent yourself. For instance, does your company have a lactation room? If not, check this out! What about a parents’ employee resource group?
As an investor:
This might seem repetitive to last week’s suggestion, but proxy voting matters! Several shareholder proposals call for reports regarding diversity and gender pay gaps. These reports can be a starting point to deeper questions about the policies in place within the company.
As a consumer:
Exhale Parent has a trove of financial and legal resources for new parents -- including how to understand the various options for baby supplies. [Disclaimer: one of our writers is currently working for this company.]
Whistleblower, Tyler Shultz, says “Theranos would be thriving in the Covid-19 pandemic”: “It is clear that the FDA is allowing companies to develop and market these tests as quickly as possible, and largely trusting those companies to hold themselves to a high standard. As speed is critical, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but it nonetheless leaves me feeling uneasy. Like we learned with the tests from the CDC, it doesn’t matter how quickly you develop a test if the test doesn’t work.”
Sustainability was corporate America’s buzzword. This crisis changes that: “If you’ve lost your job, you’re not thinking about sustainability. The average consumer does not have the resources to shop in a way that always protects the environment.”
U.S. companies cut thousands of workers while continuing to reward shareholders during pandemic: “While thousands of their workers are filing for unemployment benefits, these companies rewarded their shareholders with more than $700 million in cash dividends. They are not alone. As the pandemic squeezes big companies, executives are making decisions about who will bear the brunt of the sacrifices, and in at least some cases, workers have been the first to lose, even as shareholders continue to collect.”
J. Crew is the first of many retail casualties.“J. Crew had hoped in recent months to spin off its faster-growing, denim-focused Madewell arm as it sought to cut borrowings of almost $1.7 billion as of February. But plans for the initial public offering were scuppered by the pandemic, and it was left struggling to deal with its debt, a legacy from its 2011 leveraged buyout by TPG Capital LP and Leonard Green & Partners LP.”
Follow-up to last week, Amazon VP resigns, calls company ‘chickenshit’ for firing protesting workers: “...firing whistleblowers isn’t just a side-effect of macroeconomic forces, nor is it intrinsic to the function of free markets. It’s evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture. I choose neither to serve nor drink that poison.”
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Stay connected with us through our slowly growing Instagram, Twitter, Medium, and, of course, email (firstname.lastname@example.org)! Please invite any friends, roommates, coworkers, armchair activists, and intersectional feminists to join the movement. See ya next Thursday!