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Family care issues go beyond gender advancing the discussion

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Posted by: Stacey Rymal on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at 2:00:00 pm

Nationally known journalist and consultant Josh Levs thinks men get a bad rap when it comes to paid family medical leave. Research shows that men are active in raising their children, spending an average of three hours a day with them even on work days and suffering work-home life conflict just as women do. When men are off at home with their children, contrary to current-day myths, they aren’t cracking a beer and watching TV.

And one of the best ways to help more women achieve the top ranks of companies is to make sure that both men and women get access to paid leave when caring for an ailing or recently born family member. His book, “All In: How our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families and Businesses and How we Can Fix it Together” makes the case that providing paid parental leave is good for businesses and families.

When his employer CNN refused to allow Levs to access paid family leave to take care of his ailing wife and children after the birth of his second child, he took legal action and eventually saw the policy changed.

His presentation last week at our recent Main Line Society of Professional Women event made the case that women can’t lean in until men and women can be all in at work and at home. He argued that men are stigmatized and sometimes risk losing advancement opportunities when taking time off for family – a trend many women can relate to.

A California law that makes paid family leave available to all genders has had a positive impact on companies, Levs argues. An Ernst & Young study found that 90 percent of companies with paid leave found there was either a positive or neutral impact on productivity, morale and the bottom line.

Levs advocates that states, including Pennsylvania, should pass legislation similar to California’s to help companies retain employees in a family-friendly way that coincides with good business practices. If it’s set up much like unemployment insurance, smaller companies can participate too.

“My only wish is that this was delivered to a room full of men,” wrote a businesswoman friend who attended Levs’ SPW speech.

Levs is the only male presenter for SPW this year. What he has in common with other SPW presenters is the ability to make a provocative argument for empowering more women to enter the highest ranks of our companies.

At a time when the #metoo movement is shining a light on injustices that too many women have faced in the workplace, SPW is advancing the discussion about what holds women back. The fact that men are particularly frowned upon for taking time to care for ailing family members, including parents, is among those barriers to greater workplace equality.

While SPW events are open to men, it’s no surprise that the majority of the typically 200-plus attendees at our Trademark events are women. As SPW realized from its very beginning nine years ago, however, men need to be involved in these conversations and educated regarding these issues. Greater understanding and buy-in has led to more inclusive workplaces. There’s no question that our economy and our companies need the best help available regardless of gender.

To read the entire March issue of the Main Line Business Monthly please click here

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