Paid parental leave: It's a win-win for people and companies.

It was big news when media giant Netflix announced it was giving its employees unlimited maternity and paternity leave for the first year after a child's birth or adoption.

Fortune called Netflix's move "game-changing," and several companies followed the streaming company's lead, including Microsoft, which improved its parental leave policy within 24 hours of Netflix's announcement.

Despite the move being good news for children and great news for parents, it's 2016. Generous parental leave policies shouldn't really be big news for the world.


Child-rear and chill? Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

America is the only industrialized nation in the world without mandatory paid maternity leave.

That is to say, there's no law in the United States requiring it — which puts us in the company of just a couple other countries in the world, like Papua New Guinea and Suriname.

The closest thing we have is the Family and Medical Leave Act, which offers job protection to those who have to spend time away from work for family-related reasons. Pregnancy and adoption are among those reasons, as well as foster care placement, but the time off is unpaid.

That means that, yes, it's still big news when a company takes it upon itself to financially support employees who are starting or continuing their families.

The better news, however, is that when companies have generous parental leave policies, things tend to go really well for everyone.

Offering paid parental leave tends to help companies much more than it hurts them, studies show.

Like any benefit, parental leave is an investment that a company makes in its employees. Ideally, the short-term cost of paid parental leave (which is often funded by a small payroll tax, similar to Social Security) should be outweighed by the long-term benefits, such as increased productivity, improved employee morale, and better retention of great employees.

“If you lose someone, you might need to spend more time and energy and money on recruiting someone than you would obviously if you’re able to retain excellent employees,” Marie Danzig, head of creative and delivery at Blue State Digital, explained to ThinkProgress, noting how important employee retention is to companies like hers.

Marie Danzig speaking in San Fransisco in 2015. Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for LinkedIn.

It's easy to see how a brand-new parent, when afforded the opportunity to take some time off to stay at home and, you know, be a parent to their new child or children, would be more likely to stay at their job for a long time.

"There’s something about sitting with your family in a nice cozy house, not having to go to work, and getting a paycheck to pay for all the things that you need," Matt Ipcar, executive creative director and senior vice president at Blue State, told ThinkProgress. "In the back of your mind you’re constantly like, ‘Wow, my company is really great.'"

Offering paid parental leave also helps promote gender equality and even potentially addresses the problem of the gender wage gap.

A new study of 22,000 companies in 91 countries found that companies offering more paternity leave for new dads also have more women in their boardrooms and holding executive positions.

Essentially, when parents are treated as parents (regardless of their gender) and everybody gets time off to bond with and parent their children, people of all genders see more equal opportunities arise.

“In countries that are more family-friendly and have greater support for child-bearing and rearing, women experience less disruptions in their careers and are more likely to make it to the top,” Marcus Noland, executive vice president and director of studies at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told the Huffington Post.


Chart via Catalyst.

As of 2015, only 1.4% of CEOs in the finance/insurance S&P 500 were women. A large and often-cited reason for the lack of women in CEO positions is that women are often expected to take on child-care duties, while men are not. When companies offer new dads as much paid time off as they offer new moms, things tend to balance out all the way to the top.

By the way, companies with more women in leadership tend to perform better and become more profitable. Just sayin'.

Basically, parental leave is good for everyone.

Paid parental leave is good for parents, who get to spend valuable bonding time with their children; it's great for children who get valuable time with their parents; and it's great for the companies that offer it. By treating their employees well, companies can improve their overall performance by retaining their best employees.

There's no good reason to be against parental leave for parents of any gender.

That is, I guess, unless you just really enjoy being in an exclusive club with Papua New Guinea, which is cool — I hear they have a great rugby team. But that's not how we should be making important parental leave policy decisions.

As someone whose complete and utter terror at the prospect of having kids is slowly fading into a marginally milder terror, can I just say: It's 2016. Let's make parental leave a priority. OK? It's just the right thing to do.

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Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign, is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

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After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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