From the Ed­i­tor

Working Mother - - Contents - Mered­ith Bodgas Ed­i­tor-in-Chief Mered­[email protected]­ing­

Tak­ing a stand for parental leave can pay off for the whole com­pany.

“I pre­sented 10 rea­sons to up­grade our parental leave pol­icy to our male CEO.”

Al­most ev­ery job comes with some de­gree of hypocrisy. When I worked at a wed­ding mag­a­zine, we’d rec­om­mend $5,000 de­signer gowns to read­ers while en­gaged staffers shopped for off-the-rack dresses for a frac­tion of that cost. The ed­i­tor of a con­ser­va­tive women’s mag­a­zine wrote soft-core porno­graphic nov­els for gay women like her­self on the side. And here at Work­ing Mother, our ma­ter­nity-leave pol­icy was so stingy, we didn’t meet the re­quire­ments to ap­ply for our own 100

Best Com­pa­nies list. This de­cep­tion felt dif­fer­ent than the oth­ers. How could we de­mand that com­pa­nies do bet­ter when we were short­chang­ing our em­ploy­ees? So I took a big risk. At nine months preg­nant, I pre­sented 10 rea­sons to up­grade our parental-leave pol­icy to our male CEO. Ev­ery point was backed by data, from stud­ies that showed com­pa­nies’ bot­tom-line ben­e­fits when new moth­ers and fa­thers can take paid time off, to the more-gen­er­ous of­fer­ings of our com­peti­tors. Still, I was ter­ri­fied. I’d al­ready got­ten knocked up just a few months into this gig. Now I was ask­ing the CEO to pay me (and

ev­ery new par­ent af­ter me) more money to stay home. He stared at my doc­u­ment and then back at my grate­ful, but fright­ened, face and vowed to look into my sug­ges­tions.

I was home with my 3-week-old when the email came. “Ben­e­fit Changes,” read the sub­ject line. Sure enough, birth moms were now en­ti­tled to eight to 12 weeks of fully paid leave, up from six at 60 per­cent of one’s salary. I would’ve loved to have seen this same pol­icy ap­plied to dads and adop­tive par­ents (who got a boost from one to four weeks of full pay), as well as foster par­ents and those wel­com­ing chil­dren through sur­ro­gacy, but progress is progress. Plus, it’s proof that care­givers mat­ter to em­ploy­ers—and if your com­pany isn’t car­ing for you, it’s ab­so­lutely worth call­ing them out on it (po­litely and with ev­i­dence that your pro­posal is worth en­act­ing).

Our cover star Natalie Mo­rales also made a big re­quest at work two years ago. Af­ter years of chas­ing hard-news head­lines as To­day’s re­porter in NYC, she asked to move to LA to co-host Ac­cess. Be­hind the scenes, Natalie’s mother-in-law, Kay Rhodes, was near the West Coast strug­gling with early-on­set Alzheimer’s dis­ease. Now, the jour­nal­ist is open­ing up about car­ing for Kay at the end of her life and learn­ing how pre­cious time with fam­ily is. In our in­ter­view with Natalie (page 18), she re­veals why we might want to start re­fram­ing ca­reer shifts. The take­away: Life as a work­ing mom isn’t lin­ear, and ask­ing for what you need is the only way to get it.

At brunch dur­ing my leave with Zachary and Jeremy.

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