Let's Make Everyone Have Kids, While We're at It

Monday, October 01, 2018

A beautiful bundle of joy -- and consequences. (Image via Pixabay.)
An editorial in the Wall Street Journal argues that mandatory paternity leave would end "workplace inequality." In other words, forcing men to take large amounts of time off after the birth of their children would reduce such statistical disparities as men and women having different amounts of pay or advancement over careers that span the same nominal amount of time -- but for the choice that many women exercise to have children.

Joanne Lipman, author of That's What She Said: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together, unwittingly starts off her editorial with the proper approach for anyone seeing this as an issue in need of a solution: Free enterprise. Humanyze is a company whose hierarchy voluntarily decided to offer mandatory paternity leave as a benefit:
Mr. Doyle's employer, Boston-based people analytics firm Humanyze, is among the first not only to give men and women equal lengths of paid parental leave but to insist that men take it. The firm instituted the policy in 2016 because most men don't take leave even when it's offered, for fear that it will derail their careers. That message -- that having a baby will kill your career -- isn't lost on women who do take leaves.

"Bias plays such a clear role, we decided we are going to say, 'It's not an option. You [men] have to take the time off," Humanyze co-founder Ben Waber told me. After all, if men and women have to take equal leaves, there's no excuse to penalize either one."
Whatever one thinks of this policy -- and Lipman indicates this benefit can help a company lure talent -- it is the contractual right of an employer to decide to offer it or not.

Sadly, and despite statistical evidence she cites that such a policy is cost neutral, Lipman clearly favors having the government force employers to offer this benefit regardless of whether their own analysis indicates they should:
Paternity leave is no cure-all. It doesn't solve the core issue, which is that the U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world that doesn't require paid family leave. Most Americans don't have access to any paid benefits when they have a child; they are protected only by the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, which guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid time off.
Lipman notes that Humanyze adopted its policy in large part for "moral" reasons, but never contests the idea implicit in the above paragraph that it is moral to force an employer to offer a type of benefit package. But it is wrong, and for the same reason that it would be wrong to force someone to have a child in the first place: Every individual human being should be free to live according to his or her own judgement, so long as doing so does not violate the rights of others to do so.

Making someone else pay for the consequences of one's decisions is wrong in general. In particular, it is wrong to force an employer to make having a child easy, regardless of the general merit of the means of doing so.

-- CAV


Today: Added "else" to start of first sentence in last paragraph. 


Jennifer Snow said...

So, if a man knocks up a bunch of women he isn't married to, can he just get paid in perpetuum for not working?

Gus Van Horn said...

Hah! Never crossed my mind.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer, Gus,

Just imagine what would happen, then, if the NBA instituted such a policy. Or Hollywood. (On second thought, maybe this IS a good idea! )

c andrew

Gus Van Horn said...

Or Congress, after we get them elected to quorum-proof majorities.