From an MLBer’s home run into fatherhood to tech giants offering egg freezing benefits to win the Silicon Valley talent wars, 2014 was a year filled with thought-provoking headlines about work-life balance and work-family issues.
Was 2014 the year that pushed paternity leave into the mainstream, forced the US government to get serious about working families and empowered employees to take their PTO? Only time will tell.
For now, take a look at our roundup of Work-Life Wins from 2014 and add your own stories to the list.
- Daniel Murphy Takes Paternity Leave – The New York Mets second baseman spurred quite the conversation this past spring when he decided to miss the season opener, taking paternity leave to spend a few days with his family in Florida, where Murphy’s wife gave birth to their first child.
While a few among sports media’s many talking heads criticized Murphy’s decision, his coaches, teammates and the general public largely supported the second baseman’s decision to take paternity leave, and the topic of paid time off for dads took off, opening the door to many.
Was your company affected? Share your story below.
- The White House Met to Discuss Working Families – In June, the White House Council on Women and Girls, the Department of Labor and the Center for American Progress hosted a Summit on Working Families, which brought together business leaders, policymakers, economists, advocates and ordinary citizens to focus on making workplace changes to improve economic stability of working families who are now struggling to make ends meet.
Should government help pay for care? How can big companies lead the way? Share your thoughts.
- Max Schireson Steps Down as MongoDB’s CEO – “As a male CEO, I have been asked what kind of car I drive and what type of music I like, but never how I balance the demands of being both a dad and a CEO,” wrote Max Schireson in a blog post earlier this year. “Friends and colleagues often ask my wife how she balances her job and motherhood. Somehow, the same people don’t ask me. A few months ago, I decided the only way to balance was by stepping back from my job.”
In the widely shared blog post, Schireson explained his decision to step down from his bi-coastal CEO role to take on another full-time (“normal full-time and not crazy full-time”) position with the company, which will allow him to spend more time with his family. And in the months since, Schireson has been held up as an example of a modern dad making family-first choices that illustrate how fathers too struggle with work-life balance.
Should Schireson be applauded for his decision, or is this another example of the double-standard mothers and fathers face in the workplace?
- Spotlight Shines on Untaken PTO – When the US Travel Association this year revealed US employees surrendered 169 million vacation days – totaling $52.4 billion in lost benefits – in 2013 alone, the numbers were jarring. A separate survey from Glassdoor revealed only 25 percent of American employees with paid time off took all of their vacation time in 2013, and 60 percent of those who did admitted to working while out of the office.
In 2014, organizations and employees began taking paid time off more seriously, realizing the benefits of getting out of the office in terms of reducing stress and improving productivity.
Do you work while on vacation? Would you want your company to institute a no-work policy?
Find out Why You Should Kick Your Employees Out of the Office – and How to Do It
- CEO Roundtable Created for Family Issues – Following the White House Summit in June, President Barack Obama convened a business roundtable of leaders to discuss ways U.S. employers can make their workplaces more family-friendly. The group was made up of executives from across several industries, including Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Bob Moritz of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Randy Garutti from Shake Shack and Care.com Founder and CEO Sheila Lirio Marcelo.
“In consultation with the administration, the working group will identify ways that employers can measure their own progress and help ensure they have effective practices in place to respond to their workers’ work-life needs,” the White House said in a statement. The group’s work is ongoing.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing working families today?
- PepsiCO CEO Gets Real About Work-Life Balance Struggles – No, you’re not looking at the wrong list. And yes, we do have Indira Nooyi’s comments to The Atlantic’s David Bradley in our “Incomplete Work-Family Naughty List” roundup. Because, well, she did say “I don’t think women can have it all.” But, from there she went into some real talk about the difficult decisions families face, and how you can lean on your family for support, have a successful career, and know the kids are alright. And that’s why she made our list of Work-Life Wins of 2014.
"My husband and I have been married for 34 years and we have two daughters," said Nooyi. "And every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions. And you have to co-opt a lot of people to help you. We co-opted our families to help us. We plan our lives meticulously so we can be decent parents. But if you ask our daughters, I'm not sure they will say that I've been a good mom. I'm not sure. And I try all kinds of coping mechanisms.”
- Olivia Wilde Breastfeeds at “Glamour” Shoot – Olivia Wilde’s September cover shoot for “Glamour” saw the actress talk about how her “badass working mother” set the example that you don’t have to sacrifice your career because you’re becoming a mother. Then, while taking a moment between shots to breastfeed, she was photographed, and it made the message that much more real.
"Being shot with Otis is so perfect because any portrait of me right now isn’t complete without my identity as a mother being part of that," said Wilde. "Breastfeeding is the most natural thing. I don’t know, now it feels like Otis should always be on my breast. It felt like we were capturing that multifaceted woman we’ve been discussing – that we know we can be. You can be someone who is at once maternal and professional and sexy and self-possessed."
Can celebrity parents be role models for the rest of corporate America?
- USDL Creates #LeadOnLeave – Going beyond the Summit on Working Families, the U.S. Department of Labor created the #LeadOnLeave social media campaign in support of updating workplace policies to give more Americans access to paid family leave. “The absence of paid leave threatens the jobs and undermines the economic security of millions of people across the country,” says Labor Secretary Tom Perez in a statement. “We are one of the few countries on Earth where paid family leave and paid sick days are not the law of the land.” Indeed, the United States is one of three nations without paid family leave for new mothers.
What does your company offer for paid leave?
- Apple and Facebook Announce Egg-Freezing Benefits – An unusual benefit that seems an unlikely fit on a list of work-life wins. It’s fair to look at companies like Apple and Facebook offering to pay for female employees to freeze their eggs as a tactic to encourage female talent to “lean in” now and push motherhood into the future (a quick gain for the company). But it would be short-sighted not to also consider this pricey work perk as a measure of support for working families, the same way we might look at employer contributions toward fertility treatments or adoption.
Do you view the egg-freezing benefit as more beneficial for the working women or for the company they’re working for?
Read more about Egg Freezing and Its Place in the Silicon Valley Talent Wars
What other work place wins have you seen in 2014? Share below.