A well-known organization just changed its parental leave policy: one year of paid time off. Really.

A well-known nonprofit organization recently made an announcement that's a little out of the norm for an American-based company.

Are you ready for this?


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is now offering new parents 52 weeks of paid parental leave.

Wait, how long?!


Yep, that's right. New moms and dads who work for the foundation can take up to one full year of paid leave after the birth of a baby or adoption of a child.

Steven Rice, chief human resources officer of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, made the announcement:

“Our new parental leave program will offer up to 52 weeks of paid time-off for both mothers and fathers during the first year of a child's birth or adoption. This will enable parents to participate more fully in their children's lives, while also allowing them the flexibility and financial certainty to meet the needs of their growing families. Ultimately, our parental leave program is focused on healthier babies, parents who are able to thrive professionally, and strong and resilient families. We have also announced that employees will be able to take unlimited time-off without concern about their accrued sick leave or vacation, returning to work more focused and able to take on the foundation's boldest aspirations."

Healthier babies, parents who thrive, and resilient families? Um, yes please.

Two things about the new policy really stand out.

Image by iStock.

First, it's being offered to moms AND dads.

In cases of birth, women are the ones who have the baby and often breast-feed, so they obviously need time off to recover and get into a routine of breast-feeding their babies. But this policy recognizes that bonding with a new baby matters, too. And bonding is important to both moms and dads.

Image by iStock.

Second, the policy offers the same amount of time off for adoptive parents.

Often, maternity leave policies offer less time to employees who create or grow their families through adoption, which makes zero sense. As an adoptive parent, I can assure you that the first year with each of my children was the most mentally and physically exhausting time of my life. (It was also wonderful! But ohmygod. It was hard.)

Plus, bonding is incredibly important for both the adoptive parent and the child, and having a full year away from the stress of work to do that is invaluable.

There's really only one problem with this whole thing: It shouldn't be so revolutionary.

Other countries are like...


GIF via "Parks and Recreation."

...cool story, bro. But, like, welcome to the ways of the rest of the developed world.

The United States lags so far behind the rest of the world in paid maternity leave that if we didn't laugh, we'd be crying right along with our newborn babies ... that we can't take care of because we have to go back to work.

Image by iStock.

Really. According to this in-depth In These Times article about the dire state of paid maternity leave in the U.S., "With the exception of a few small countries like Papua New Guinea and Suriname, every other nation in the world — rich or poor — now requires paid maternity leave."

In the U.S., we have no legally mandated paid parental leave policies.

That means we leave it up to companies to decide whether they want to offer it as a benefit. And not many do. 2012 figures show that only between 11% and 15% of employees have access to paid family leave.

A lack of paid time off after a birth or adoption is a serious problem. And it's about more than just quality of life. It's about — well — life:

The In These Times article mentioned above looks at the high prices we're paying — which include the actual lives of our children:

"Paid parental leave frees mothers and fathers from choosing between their careers and time with their infants. For women, still most often the primary caregivers of young children, this results in higher employment rates, which in turn translates to lower poverty rates among mothers and their children.

Research shows that paid leave can also be a matter of life and death for children. By charting the correlation between death rates and paid leave in 16 European countries, Christopher Ruhm, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Virginia, found that a 50-week extension in paid leave was associated with a 20 percent dip in infant deaths. (The biggest drop was in deaths of babies between 1 month and 1 year old, though mortality of children between 1 and 5 years also decreased as paid leave went up.)"

Yep. Having 50 weeks of paid leave actually reduces infant mortality rates.

So bravo to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for really hitting the nail on the head with its new policy.

Note to pretty much every other U.S. company (with a few exceptions, of course): your move.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.