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theSkimm’s founders asked employers to #ShowUsYourLeave. Nearly 500 companies shared their paid leave policies.

March 23, 2022, 1:15 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Katie Haun raises the largest-ever fund for a solo VC, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings continue, and theSkimm’s founders learned that transparency is crucial when it comes to paid leave. Have a great Wednesday.

Today’s guest essay comes to us from Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, cofounders and co-CEOs of media company theSkimm. In October, theSkimm launched the social media campaign #ShowUsYourLeave, after hearing firsthand accounts from working women whose jobs did not offer paid family leave. The campaign is an effort to push employers to publicize their family leave benefits. In this piece, they share why transparency is a crucial first step to improving paid leave for all. 

– #ShowUsYourLeave. When paid family leave was cut from the Build Back Better bill, we were too frustrated to just sit back and do nothing. As a women-led company geared toward millennial women, paid leave has been important to us at theSkimm since long before we had any expectant parents on staff. But we know not every company has those same priorities—with dire consequences. For women without access to paid family leave, nearly 30% dropped out of the workforce within a year of giving birth. One in five did not return for more than a decade. 

We candidly shared our feelings on our Instagram in October, and asked our audience to #ShowUsYourLeave. The response was overwhelming. We received hundreds of messages from women sharing their own experiences and stories about paid leave, or lack thereof. These stories were heartbreaking accounts, and all driven by insufficient or nonexistent paid leave policies from their employers. Some of those who wrote in were among the one in four women in the U.S. who are forced back to work within 10 days of giving birth—a reality that disproportionately affects low-income families and people of color, and is directly tied to poor infant and maternal health outcomes. It was a wakeup call that there was more we could do.

We wanted to amplify a conversation about this crucial issue facing parents and caregivers within the private sector and shed light on why paid family leave is imperative to get millions of women back into the workforce. Men have already recouped pandemic employment losses, while 1.1 million fewer women are participating in the labor force than the previous year. At this rate, we are looking at a timeline that reverses decades of progress for women’s participation in the workforce.

We publicly shared theSkimm’s own leave policy—18 weeks of paid leave (adoption, surrogacy and fostering included), bereavement leave for pregnancy loss, phased return to work, and backup childcare assistance—and with the #ShowUsYourLeave hashtag, we called on other companies to do the same. Nearly 500 companies have publicly shared their policies so far, including American Express, Bombas, Etsy, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Pfizer, Snap, and Zoom. In an effort to help more Americans in the workforce make informed decisions about their career path, theSkimm has compiled the information publicly shared through our #ShowUsYourLeave initiative into a viewable, easily accessible database. This provides a look into the benefits and policies other employers are offering, and serves as a benchmark to reference when advocating for change within one’s organization.

But this is just the first step. Here’s what else business leaders, decision-makers, and citizens of this country must do to bring women back into the workforce: 

Publicize paid family leave policies. Providing transparency around paid family leave benefits helps employees and job seekers make informed employment decisions, gauge a company’s commitment to supporting women, and better equips them to lobby their companies for policy change. Simply put, woman want access to paid leave information.

Understand the financial impact.  Companies with strong paid leave policies are better able to attract female employees, bringing more women into the workforce—a win for businesses and the economy. Research suggests that companies with women in senior leadership positions are more profitable, more socially responsible, and provide better customer experiences. According to the World Economic Forum, driving more women to the workforce can bring more economic gains than an equal increase in male workers. It’s imperative that companies formulate a paid family leave policy from day one with budget allocation.

Listen to next-gen women. Millennial women are prioritizing benefits, flexibility, and work-life balance, and they want to feel supported by their employers. Benefit packages are no longer viewed as perks or nice-to-haves, but as important factors in negotiations and a telling indication of how companies value their employees. We’re currently dealing with the Great Resignation, and we won’t achieve the “Great Retention” without listening to women. 

Use family leave as recruiting tool. Companies that participated in the #ShowUsYourLeave campaign are now using those policies as recruitment tools. We’ve also seen companies begin to craft additional policies that support all phases of their employees’ lives, including birth, adoption, surrogacy and fostering; infertility, pregnancy loss, and childcare; and caregiving for a loved one or mental health leave for an employee.

We cannot continue to leave women behind and idly wait for a national policy. The private sector needs to take action, company by company, leader by leader. And we encourage employees and business leaders to continue to #ShowUsYourLeave.

– Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, cofounders and co-CEOs of theSkimm

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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Confirmation station. On the second day of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Jackson pushed back against claims by GOP Sen. Josh Hawley that she had been lenient on sentencing for child porn offenses. She also echoed Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, stating that Roe v. Wade is "settled law of the Supreme Court." The confirmation hearings continue today. CNN

- Going soloCryptocurrency investor Katie Haun—the subject of a recent Fortune cover story—raised $1.5 billion for her new fund. That's the biggest debut venture fund ever raised by a woman, beating Mary Meeker's $1.3 billion record. But it's also the biggest fund ever raised by a solo VC. Haun says the size of the fund reflects a "new era of investors" for Web3. CNBC

- Building wealth. MacKenzie Scott's $436 million donation to Habitat for Humanity is her largest single disclosed donation since she started giving away her wealth almost two years ago. The gift is split between the international organization and 84 U.S. affiliates. Scott has given away at least $9 billion of her $51 billion net worth. Guardian

- Venture to match. Serena Williams has been investing in startups for years, but only recently did she announce a $111 million fund backed by LPs of her own. After a New York Times report on the fund erroneously featured a photo of Williams's sister, Venus Williams, Williams retorted that writing big checks to underrepresented entrepreneurs will "change that narrative so we don’t have to be overlooked." Bloomberg

- Early retirement. World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty shocked the tennis world when she announced her retirement from the sport—at the age of 25—via Instagram this morning. The Australian phenom leaves less than two months after winning the Australian Open for her third Grand Slam singles title. CNN

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Nasdaq hired former partner at Silicon Foundry Sehr Thadhani as chief digital officer. First Round Capital hired Stripe alum Cristina Cordova as partner. Etsy announced that Raina Moskowitz will expand her role at the company as COO. TrailRunner International hired Heather Wilson, a veteran of Abernathy MacGregor, SKDK, and Weber Shandwick as managing director. Cityblock Health appointed co-founder Toyin Ajayi CEO. Hybrid Theory has brought on Ava Moran as SVP of sales in North America. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- In Eastern Europe. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is one of the European leaders dealing with the fallout of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. As Estonia's support for Ukraine soars, Kallas is investing in a poor, Russian-speaking region in Estonia's northeast. Along with infrastructure improvements, the PM aims to provide Estonian-language skills for the region's residents to help boost their careers and incomes. Bloomberg

- Tour troubles. Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge (also known as Kate Middleton) and Prince William are on a royal tour of the Caribbean. But the tour isn't going over well with its intended audience. Jamaican activists used the occasion to demand reparations from the British monarchy. Reuters

- Special relationship. It's no secret that childcare is essential to working parents. That's true for parents dropping their kids off at day care and for families who rely on round-the-clock, in-home coverage. In this piece, nannies for high-powered women (including one public company CEO) reflect on their own work lives and their employers'. "I felt bad sometimes because she missed out on some great stuff," says one nanny of her employer. "But she provided such an exceptional life for him." The Cut

ON MY RADAR

Decoding Jane Campion's joke about the Williams sisters New York Times

I don't know how to say 'no' at work The Cut

Women directed the two Oscar frontrunners for best picture. It's respect 94 years in the making L.A. Times

Amanda Bynes's conservatorship terminated by judge after nearly nine years Variety

PARTING WORDS

"The story intersected, I thought, at a lot of really interesting points: late-stage capitalism, the commodification of spirituality, and toxic positivity."

-Anne Hathaway on playing Rebekah Neumann in the Apple TV+ WeWork drama WeCrashed

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