Paid family leave is a major discussion point among companies around the world. Last week, we talked about Japan’s plan to boost women’s participation in the workforce by expanding daycare options and encouraging companies to put women in leadership positions, and we’ve also discussed paternity leave in the UK and President Obama’s support for family-friendly leave policies.
While most articles point out the disadvantages of US policies toward maternity leave—it’s the only developed country that does not mandate that companies offer paid leave—a recent article from The New York Times argues that this may not be a total loss for women. In the US, women are just as likely as men to be in leadership positions; in Europe, women are half as likely as men to be managers, perhaps due to the possibility that companies discriminate against women who they fear might take long paid leaves of absence.
The article suggests that neither the US nor Europe has figured out how much paid maternity and paternity leave companies should offer. And even companies who come up with successful plans will have to modify them over time to keep up with changing cultural expectations.