08 Dec Men Who Shame Working Parents Are the Losers
“Wow. Great for fathers to spend time with their kids and support moms, but any man in an important position who takes 6 months of leave for a newborn is a loser,” tweeted Joe Lonsdale, the co-founder of Palantir Technologies and a venture capitalist. “In the old days men had babies and worked harder to provide for their future — that’s the correct masculine response.”
This was a response to Dan Primack’s tweet commenting on how Joe Rogan didn’t even realize paternity leave existed. While perhaps Lonsdale is being intentionally antagonistic and outrageous in order to generate a response, the content of the tweet itself is dangerous coming from someone with as much influence as he has. Lonsdale is suggesting that men who stay home with newborns are losers, but what does that say about moms who want and need to stay home with their children? The implication of his tweet is that women are either losers for staying home with their kids or aren’t in “important” positions in the first place.
Our values as a society are in jeopardy if we truly embrace work over family. Companies in most countries have much more progressive parental leave policies. Finland guarantees each parent 164 days of paid leave after the birth of their child; Germany allows both parents of either natural or adopted children to request up to three years of parental leave after birth; Iceland is similarly challenging and changing their system to reflect gender equality where both parents get equal parental leave. The implementation of good parental leave policies not only fosters a great environment for new parents but reflects well on the company.
Research has linked parental leave to higher employee retention rates. Google was one of the first companies to extend paid leave to six months and has a higher association with overall job satisfaction as a result. So when a successful U.S.-based entrepreneur and investor, such as Lonsdale, tweet content like this, it sends a message to CEOs that progressive parental leave policies aren’t necessary. Such a message is irresponsible and immoral, as dads should have every right to be with their children and spouses that moms do.
While the moral case against Lonsdale’s tweet is clear, there is a clear business case against it as well. The most prevailing wisdom on leadership suggests that the mark of a great leader is the ability to make oneself unnecessary. Putting this definition to use, to be able to step away from a company or organization to be with one’s family, because they have put the right people and processes in place, doesn’t make them “losers,” it makes them great leaders! The mark of a great leader running a great organization is precise that their organizations run flawlessly when they step away.
As an entrepreneur and investor, I am committed to supporting women and men who prioritize their families over their jobs, even and especially when working for me. My sincere hope is that Lonsdale will apologize for his tweet and reverse his stance on the parental leave policy.