Good morning, Broadsheet readers! A gubernatorial candidate gets real, Sheryl Sandberg talks paid leave, and Ivana Trump has some advice for her ex-husband. Have a fantastic Tuesday.
• Follow her lead. Silicon Valley is often described as a hostile place for women. Yet tech companies are leading the charge when it comes to progressive paid leave policies. Facebook—which offers four months of leave to all employees—is a leader in this regard, thanks in no small part to Sheryl Sandberg. The COO and Lean In author has emerged as a vocal proponent of federal paid leave and I spoke with her about how to get the rest of corporate America to follow Facebook’s lead. Below are a few edited excerpts from our conversation.
VZ: You’ve spoken up about the issue of paid leave and the need for a federal policy. What are you and Facebook doing to keep rolling that ball forward?
SS: I’m personally supporting the FAMILY Act [which would establish federally mandated paid leave]. I’d like to see legislation pass at the federal level, and there’s a lot of good activity at state levels that gets people the coverage they need. Business leaders have a responsibility to push for the right public policy. But in this environment where these bills are not passing, [we need] to take the steps we can take. We are responsible for the policies for our companies and also for setting the right example.
It’s not enough to have the policies, you also have to use them. I’m really proud that Mark [Zuckerberg] took paternity leave. He sets the right example. Our CTO took paternity leave, our chief product officer took paternity leave. One of the most important things we need to fight is the idea that this is a female issue. This is an issue for families and if we want mothers and fathers to be equal parents in the households, we need to start out equal. And that’s why equal paternity leave is so important. We give four months to both [mother and fathers] and we really encourage people to take it. Another thing we found is that flexibility in how you take the policies works. We offer four months over the course of the first year. And that really increases participation, especially amongst men.
VZ: Facebook has a generous paid leave policy for men and women, but the vast majority of Americans—87%—don’t have access to any form of leave. In absence of a federal policy, what’s the best way to get corporate America on board?
SS: The numbers are astounding: 37 million people get no sick days. And that applies to 6 in 10 lower-income workers. Only 14% of people have access to paid family leave at work. A third of working mothers don’t have access to any paid leave. You want to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, but I think if businesses understand that it’s also the smart thing for them, they will do it. If you take care of your employees when they most need it, they are most loyal—and having great employees is most critical to success.
These are not trade-offs. This is not a trade-off between your business goals and your goals of taking care of your people. You take care of your people? You meet your business goals. And I think we need to make sure that people aren’t making trade-offs between taking care of their personal responsibilities and professional responsibilities.
Read more of the conversation here:
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Forever in your debt. In this Fortune op-ed, Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) writes about the fallout from her financial disclosures, which revealed that she owes more than $200,000 in debt. Abrams, who could become the country’s first-ever black female governor, describes the realities of growing up in a working class household and providing financial support to numerous family members. “I am in debt, but I am not alone. Debt is a millstone that weighs down more than three-quarters of Americans,” writes Abrams, whose new book, Minority Leader, is out today. “It can determine whether we are able to run for office, to launch a business, to quit a job we hate. But it should not—and cannot—be a disqualification for ambition.”
• Will Wynn win? Elaine Wynn, who co-founded the hospitality company with her ex-husband, Steve Wynn, is starting a campaign to remove one of the three board directors investigating the sexual misconduct allegations against the former CEO. In an SEC filing, she recommended that shareholders not re-elect director John Hagenbuch because of his “close ties to Mr. Wynn.” She called Hagenbuch a “longtime close friend” of her ex’s and said that it is “disconcerting” that he is involved in the investigation into allegations against him.
Wall Street Journal
• I feel pretty average. Of all the think-pieces about Amy Schumer’s latest film, I Feel Pretty, I found this one, by NYT‘s Amanda Hess, most compelling. A snippet: “The movie suggests that the only thing holding back regular-looking women is their belief that looking regular holds them back at all. That attitude puts the onus on individual women to improve their self-esteem instead of criticizing societal beauty standards writ large. The reality is that expectations for female appearances have never been higher. It’s just become taboo to admit that.”
New York Times
• Ivana’s advice. President Trump’s first wife—and mother of Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump—Ivana Trump said that she didn’t think that it was “necessary” for her ex-husband to run again in 2020. “Donald is going to be 74, 73 for the next [election] and maybe he should just go and play golf and enjoy his fortune,” she told Page Six. “I don’t think he probably knew how much is involved in being the president. It’s so [much] information—you have to know the whole world.”
• At least try to hide it! According to a report released by Human Rights Watch yesterday, prominent Chinese technology companies such as Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent are outwardly excluding women from job opportunities. Alibaba’s website, for example, had “men only” or “men preferred” ads for jobs.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Lauding LeeAnne. LeeAnne Walters, a stay-at-home mom from Flint, Mich. who helped draw national attention to the drinking-water crisis in her hometown, is among this year’s recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize (the green world’s equivalent of an Oscar). It was Walters who “pushed for a test-taking effort by both government and private chemical experts that verified widespread levels of lead in the new water system.”
Wall Street Journal
• So money. The latest issue of Glamour—the first under new editor Samantha Berry—is all about cold, hard cash. In this poll, 1,000 women share their “deep, dark money secrets” with the mag.
• Zwei sind besser. Germany’s Social Democrat party (SPD) just made history, electing its first female leader in 154 years, Andrea Nahles. Now, both the SPD and the Christian Democrats—both parties in the country’s ruling coalition—will be lead by women for the first time (the other woman is, of course, Chancellor Angela Merkel).
• The childcare cliff. Slate takes a look at the childcare “cliff effect”: when low-income parents who start earning above a certain threshold and suddenly become ineligible for child care subsidies. Jennifer Greenfield, a professor of social work at the University of Denver, explains: “Families normally pay modest copays that gradually increase as their incomes go up, but then all of a sudden there’s this huge jump where the subsidy falls away completely, and they just can’t absorb it.”