Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal Is Taking Family Leave, And Its A Big Deal

In the US, it's still a pretty big deal for a company to give paternity leave.

Following the birth of his second child, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal said he would take "a few weeks" of paternity leave. Although Twitter's standard 20 weeks of paid family leave is longer than what Agrawal has planned, his decision—just a few months into his tenure—is notable, given his position as CEO of one of the most influential tech companies in the nation.

By taking time off work to take care of his newborn child and support the mother, Agrawal is following in the footsteps of other tech dads like Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.  Both dads took a few months of paid leave, several years ago, when their children were born. Ohanian in particular has been a outspoken supporter of paid paternity leave.

On the other hand, other high-powered tech leaders have made headlines for mostly returning to work immediately after the birth of their children.

  • In 2015, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer created a controversy when she claimed that she would only take two weeks off after giving birth to twins and that she would be "working throughout" that period.
  • After the birth of his youngest child in 2020, Elon Musk stated that he had plenty of time to build spaceships and start Twitter battles because the mother, Grimes, played a "much greater" role in caring for the child.

Similarly, a few months ago month Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, took paternity leave to care for his newborn twin babies, which prompted Fox News host Tucker Carlson and podcaster Joe Rogan to criticize him.

  • Rogan taunted, “Isn't [paid leave] supposed to be for the person who gave birth?”
  • Buttigieg replied to his critics by saying that he felt “blessed” to have the “flexibility to take care of our newborn children, which is, by the way, work.”

Many others, on the other hand, do not have such flexibility.  The United States is the only wealthy country without a paid parental leave policy.  Despite the fact that  73% of US adults support federal funding for paid family leave, 23% of civilian workers actually have access to it, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The White House's Build Back Better initiative, which was intended to give four weeks of paid leave to all Americans, crashed and burned in the Senate.

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