Thanks for Paternity Leave, IBM

My son was born today!

US IBM employees are entitled to 90 days of paid family leave during the year after a child is born. This employee benefit is pro-family, feminist and – in my experience – genuine. I want to celebrate it with this post.

As a guy, I feel pretty lucky to spend 3 months bonding with my new little one and still get paid. Frankly, it makes the extra frenzy of another child more palatable, and it helps my marriage.

My wife’s career is benefitting from my time off too. Since I can be the primary care provider in these first few intense months, she doesn’t have to take a year off school. Otherwise, her career progression would be set back an entire 12 months.

My female co-workers are benefitting from my and other fathers’ time off. If men disappear after childbirth for just as long as women do, that’s one less impetus for inequality between men and women’s career progression.

My manager is not only unbothered by me taking 3 months off – she’s excited for me and expects it. This part is especially important, since otherwise the policy is hollow. To illustrate, I’ve never taken off all my available sick days because it’s frowned on if you’re not actually sick. Evidently, many companies treat paternity leave the same way since US men only use 1/3 of the time available to them. What good is a few months off if it torpedoes your career?

My last project lead was promoted during her maternity leave. That sent a strong signal that I can safely take the full time.

So, thank you, IBM. I’ll see you in a few months.

Written on September 20, 2020