Meghan Markle Says Paid Leave ‘Is Not Just About the Mom’
“It sets us up for economic growth and success, but it also just allows people to have that very sacred time as a family.”
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, says paid family leave ‘is not just about the mom.’
I think it takes strong men to — and modern men, frankly, to really understand that they benefit from it as well. Paid parental leave is really important. It’s not just about the mom being home, what it does and connects you, how it connects you as a family unit is really key. But equally, it incentivizes you to be able to go back to work. If you are, if you know that you can have that quality time and you’re not sacrificing your job, or that you have to choose between your family and putting food on the table, the ripple effect of that is huge. But men have to be a part of that. But also, Andrew, facts matter. This is one of those things about perception and reality. So the reality is men benefit from a lot of these programs. That is just the truth. I remember looking at some statistics that really shocked me about work from home or work flexibility schedules pre-pandemic. Three quarters of the people who work from home are actually men. And I think most people don’t realize that. Now if they are a larger part of the workforce in general, that actually does make quite a bit of sense. But I think our natural inclination is that pre-pandemic, the person who needed the flexible work schedule was the woman. Well, she may. But the person, the people who are actually using that flexible work schedules to their benefit right now are men, and that is not something that has hurt their career. In fact, more than half of men who had flexible work schedules said that they thought it helped their career. So if we know the facts, we can actually dispel myths and then recognize the opportunity is actually for everyone. It’s not targeted at one gender or one group.
Nov. 9, 2021Updated 4:55 p.m. ET
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has been hitting the phones, calling members of Congress to garner support for paid family leave in the United States.
“I just get the phone number, and I call and have a conversation,” she told Andrew Ross Sorkin at the DealBook Online Summit on Tuesday. “People are pretty surprised, I think.”
Meghan’s outreach comes as Democrats have debated whether to include paid leave in a sweeping policy bill. The United States is the only rich country that does not have national paid maternity leave. The administration has met with business leaders to underscore the importance of paid family leave to the economy, with the share of women working for pay at its lowest level since 1986.
“This is one of those issues that is not red or blue,” Meghan said. “It sets us up for economic growth and success, but it also just allows people to have that very sacred time as a family.”
Meghan added, “it takes strong men, modern men, to really understand they benefit from it as well” and that “it is not just about the mom.”
Meghan also addressed “ambition,” which she said has become a “trigger word” for some, particularly when applied to women.
“There is nothing wrong,” she said, with women talking about “success, ambition, or financial prowess.”
Among Meghan’s recent projects, she and her husband, Prince Harry, have joined Ethic, a fintech asset manager in the fast-growing environmental, social and governance, or E.S.G., space, as “impact partners” and investors. Ethic has $1.3 billion under management and creates separately managed accounts to invest in social responsibility themes.
Mellody Hobson, the co-chief executive and president of Ariel Investments, who joined Meghan at the summit, said she has occasionally felt she needs to manage differently as a female boss.
“I have found myself having, at times, to modulate myself in order to win,” said Ms. Hobson. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Sometimes I can also be big.”
Ms. Hobson and Meghan also addressed workplace diversity initiatives.
“I do believe the number-one beneficiary of diversity initiatives in this country has been white women,” Ms. Hobson said. “I think the problem is that there is this scenario that is created, and it is a zero-sum game — and it is not.”