Sheryl Sandberg is known for being the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, but also for being an advocate for women’s advancement and equality in the workplace. In 2013, she wrote the book Lean In, in which she shares personal stories and advice about gender equality and achieving goals. The book touches on things like how to negotiate a raise and paid family leave and how to speak up at home and at work. However, in the four years since Sandberg’s book has been published, not a lot has changed.
Sandberg says she wrote Lean In because she felt that people were not noticing that the progress in gaining gender equality had halted. On Mother’s Day, she wrote a post on Facebook that addresses the issues working mothers still face and advice for the government on how to further our progress for women’s rights.
“Being a mother is the most rewarding–and hardest–job many of us will ever have. The day you become a mom, you also become a caregiver, teacher, nurse, and coach,” Sandberg said. “We all have a responsibility to help mothers, as well as fathers, balance their responsibilities at work and home.”
Sandberg herself is a mother of two, and Facebook allows men and women such as herself to take four months of paid leave following the birth of their child. However, not all parents work for companies that actively help them balance work and caring for their children. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provides up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave during a twelve-month period for parents to care for a newborn, but the FMLA has allowed every state to set more expansive standards on the matter.
Currently, California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey are the only states that offer paid family and medical leave. New York will join them in 2018. Aside from these states, the US is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not require employers to offer paid leave to all new parents.
At the end of her Facebook post, Sandberg brought up three actions that she believes need to be realized in order to ensure that new parents be supported by our country.
First, she says, the federal minimum wage needs to be raised. Since around 75 percent of minimum wage workers are women, raising the minimum wage would hopefully reduce pay inequality and help millions of families who are living in or near poverty.
Sandberg also believes that all parents deserve paid leave, meaning mothers and fathers. Again, the US is the only country in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave and one of the only countries that does not offer paid paternity leave. This change would support families of all kinds, including adoptive and LGBTQ parents. No one should be excluded from this support.
The last point she makes is that childcare should be affordable.
“Childcare for two children exceeds the median annual rent in all 50 states. How are parents supposed to work if they don’t have a safe and affordable place to leave their kids?” Sandberg asked.
New parents should not have to sacrifice their jobs for their children, and vice versa. It is time for the US to start showing its support for new parents, and people like Sheryl Sandberg are using their platform to urge for these changes.
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