So apparently you can lead a really, really large organisation and take leave after having a baby.
Even if you’re a man. And even if that organisation is one that you founded as a college student, has grown to list as a public company, and become one of the most powerful in the world.
That’s the statement Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is making by telling the world he’ll take two months off following the birth of his daughter.
Zuckerberg made the announcement on Facebook of course, months after telling the world via the social media platform, that he and his wife Priscilla had been trying for a baby for a number of years, and had suffered three heartbreaking miscarriages along the way.
Not all new dads, nor all new mums, are in a position to take parental leave, especially in the United States, which is still one of the few countries in the world to not offer government paid leave.
But financially, Zuckerberg clearly is in such a position, as are many individuals in high profile roles. Still, few leaders make such a public stance by taking beyond a couple of weeks – or even just a few days off – following the birth of a child. Rather, they perpetuate the idea that time out from the office is incompatible with leadership.
Zuckerberg hasn’t announced who will step in while he takes his leave, but there’s speculation his COO Sheryl Sandberg may assume temporary leadership duties. We’re left to assume Zuckerberg’s made his extended leave possible because he’s come up a succession plan along the way.
Zuckerberg is setting an excellent example for the 12,000 employees within his own organisation, as well as for male and female leaders everywhere who believe taking some time out from the office after the birth of a child would simply be impossible. He’s establishing a culture that says it’s ok to have your family life interrupt your work life, that it’s actually practical, healthy and perfectly normal.
Indeed, his Facebook post on the announcement explains just why he’s made the decision, stating that, “Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families … Every day things are getting a little more real for us, and we’re excited to start this next stage in our lives.”