YouTube CEO: Without Real Parental Leave, I’d Quit
Dreamforce, the massive, carnivalesque conference put on by Salesforce every year in San Francisco, took a break from spectacle yesterday to get serious. At the conference’s first-ever women’s leadership summit, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki resolutely stood behind what has become one of the most talked-about issues in the tech industry: the need for companies to offer paid parental leave.
“What if I had to go back to work on day 10?” Wojcicki, who has five children. “I would quit. That’s what I would do.”
A groundswell of Silicon Valley companies have recently started trying to attract the best talent by offering something very different from well-stocked cafeterias and on-site laundry: paid parental leave. It’s an attractive perk, especially if you live in the United States. According to the Department of Labor, only 12 percent of private sector workers have access to paid parental leave in the US, and tech companies are taking note. In past weeks, Netflix, Microsoft, and Adobe have all upgraded their paid maternity and paternity leave policies. Meanwhile, Google—YouTube’s parent company—offers birth moms 18 paid weeks off and gives new dads 12 weeks.
Why? “It’s good for business,” Wojcicki said.
Diversity for All
Marquee tech journalist Kara Swisher presided over an earlier panel during the summit alongside Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and co-founder Parker Harris. Other issues brought into focus at the summit included the gender pay gap in Hollywood and building more inclusive workplaces. But some attendees felt that the summit itself wasn’t inclusive enough.
Erica Baker, the ex-Google employee whose tweets about pay inequality at Google went viral, questioned a lack of diversity at a panel on diversity:
I want to be excited about this, but like…how did they manage not to get any women of color from tech companies? http://t.co/pQM9l7hq5y
— EricaJoy (@EricaJoy) September 17, 2015
As the tech industry strives to become more inclusive, its struggles are sometimes all too apparent, as the Dreamforce event shows. Is it possible to have an initiative devoted to gender diversity while also including other kinds?
The answer, of course, is yes. Because whether the issue is race, class gender, or sexuality, there’s one distinct commonality: these are human issues. It’s sometimes hard to remember you don’t have to choose just one thing to get behind.
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