Tech companies across the country are rolling out generous policies for new dads, raising the bar for the rest of corporate America. Will they start a working-father revolution? To find out, I collected stories from the scrappy front lines: the handful of dads who are boldly redefining their roles at home and at the office. "Click." It’s just a normal, everyday sound: the front door latching shut. But when that click is a father leaving home to go to work after too little paternity leave, or none at all, it echoes loudly. Both for the mother, left alone with a new baby, and for the whole of American business culture. When I heard that "click" seven years ago, the summer my first son was born, I knew that my husband, who was finishing his first year of residency after medical school, didn’t have much of a choice. He’d stayed home for three days (he’d fought to get a week but was called back in early), straightening up the messes I’d made, cooking dinner, holding our son long enough for me to take a shower. We were still in panic mode and hadn’t yet gotten into a rhythm. My milk was just coming in. Then, "click" went the door, and my heart boomed with anxiety. I watched the clock and measured my day in three-hour breastfeeding cycles until he reappeared at 7 p.m., a bag of soft-shell crabs in hand to cook for dinner. “Don’t worry,” he told me, attempting reassurance and loosening his tie, “Everything’s fine. Life hasn’t actually changed all that much.” I had no words.
Everyone from Goldman Sachs to the U.S. Army has improved paternity leave offerings.
Aaron Boodman, an independent software engineer, had been at Google for nine years when his daughter was born 18 months ago. He’d planned to take a month or so of paternity leave, but just before he was due to go back, Google increased the company policy to 12 weeks. Boodman leapt at the chance. “I heard about the change through the grapevine,” he told me. “I can’t even remember if I asked. I just took it all.” At Apple, Eric Smith, a senior engineer in architecture who runs a lab, took 12 weeks of leave after the births of his daughter, 3, and his son, 9 months. Edward Ho, an engineering director at Twitter, is another example. His almost-2-year-old son was born when he was working at a start-up that was eventually bought by Twitter. “The two other founders were fathers, and we all really valued family time. We all left to go home for dinner every night,” he says. The three partners timed the launch of their product around the birth of Ho’s son, even moving the launch date when the baby came a few weeks early, to give him more time at home. Now, Ho’s wife is eight months pregnant with the couple’s second child, and Ho says he’s “planning to take six weeks, at least,” away from his role at Twitter.
these men are outliers within companies where, for fathers, taking longer leaves isn’t yet the norm
A lot is riding on these tech-sector dads
Fatherhood is the ultimate perspective-maker