Strategy Why Airbnb's co-founder thinks all companies should offer parental leave to fathers

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Nathan Blecharczyk shared his thoughts in a blog post on Fortune.

Airbnb Founder CTO Nathan Blecharczyk. play

Airbnb Founder CTO Nathan Blecharczyk.

(Mike Windle / Getty)

Not everyone decides to have children, but by a certain age there's a good chance you'll start thinking about having a family.

Something that comes up a lot is how the parental duties are divided, and how women are often the ones who are expected to give up work.

In a recent blog post on Fortune.com, co-founder of Airbnb Nathan Blecharczyk spoke about the importance of parental care, and how men should be offered leave as the norm when they have children, as well as their female partners.

According to the Office for National Statistics, nearly 80% of men were employed in the UK in 2017, compared to about 70% of women.

Also, according to data from 2013, men with children are more likely to be in work than those without, but it is the opposite picture for women.

The employment rate for men aged 25 to 34 is around 90%, whereas it's just over 60% for women.

Employment rates for men and women living with and without dependent children by age group, April to June 2013, UK. play

Employment rates for men and women living with and without dependent children by age group, April to June 2013, UK.

(Office for National Statistics)

In the Fortune post, Blecharczyk says that he has been the sole caretaker of his young daughter for the past two years, while his wife worked as a doctor. He said that as well as having improved his relationship with his children and wife, it has also made him into a better worker.

"While it may seem counterintuitive, having the responsibilities of parenthood can actually help you more effectively prioritize your time," he wrote. "While I spend less time overall working now than before, I find myself making better use of it."

For example, he has learned to prioritise tasks more carefully, and is less likely to spend a long time arranging meetings or writing long emails if a simple phone call will do.

He added that when employees have the freedom to balance their professional and personal lives, they are more likely to be their best selves at work.

"When the employer plays a role in helping employees achieve that goal, their employee's loyalty will increase, and the culture of the company will benefit immensely," Blecharczyk said. "These days, a soul-sucking company is simply no longer sustainable."

Blecharczyk described the first time he became aware of the facts that fathers need parental leave. In 2010 he interviewed Stan Kong for the position of controller in the finance department, and Kong said he would need time off when his son was born, and flexibility about when he would return.

"I really admired his commitment to his family," Blecharczyk said. "His commitment to the company turned out to be no different. For these reasons, I'm an advocate of providing more benefits to parents, including paid parental leave."

Airbnb now provides all new mothers and fathers with 10 weeks of paid leave, as well as the option to have four-day weeks for eight weeks after that.

"I think it's incumbent on those of us in positions of leadership to create a supportive environment that empowers our employees," Blecharczyk wrote. "I'm calling upon corporate leaders to embrace paid paternity leave. This is not just an investment in our collective future, but also a benefit that leads to a strong workplace culture."

Shared parental leave was introduced in the UK in 2015, but a study shows only 1% of fathers take advantage of it.

The study, by First4Lawyers, also showed that 28 countries have better paternity leave and pay schemes than the UK, including Iran, Congo, and Burkina Faso. Currently, dads are entitled to 10 working days off at 80% of their salary as paternal leave. However, the law firm suggests that an increase to four weeks at 100% pay would be more favourable.

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