How to get paid maternity leave offered at workplace
January 7, 2017 2:52 PM   Subscribe

I would like to write a letter to our executive director advocating adding parental leave to our benefits. I feel that my voice will be heard and respected. What is the best way to do this?

I work for a medium-sized non-profit in suburban MN, USA. We exclusively serve children and their families, and (no surprise) our staff is 90%+ female. We are funded through medical insurance, private pay, governmental and nongovernmental grants, and private donations (depending on service). I strongly believe in order for our organization to demonstrate true dedication to the families we serve, as well as to cultivate a quality staff, we should be offering to support our staff through paternal leave.

I would like to write a letter to our executive director expressing this. I have written a couple times in the past to communicate appreciation for the organization, excitement about new endeavors, etc. She is very approachable and always responds enthusiastically to communication I have initiated.

Honestly, I don't necessarily think a letter will change our policy in any way, but I do think reaching out will help me feel less powerless right now. I would love advice on how to approach this. We just had a staff meeting in which our ED talked about the strategic plan for the year and I just cringed about 100x when she mentioned dedication to a world-class staff and provided the highest level of care.

I would like to include research or other supports to why parental leave is a good practice, and I don't want to approach this in an overly casual manner. Can you point me to relevant articles or anecdotes on the topic? General advice on approach, language, etc. is also appreciated!
posted by deadcrow to Work & Money (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Make the business case, but don't neglect the mission case. Frankly, if a nonprofit focused on children and families doesn't offer paid family leave (make it so employees can use it to take care of sick parents, adoptions, etc.), then they aren't living their values as an organization.
posted by postel's law at 3:33 PM on January 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

Agree with what has been said. Also suggest finding out what other orgs in your area do. This is also a "business case", as it makes you competitive as an organization. Also have a specific ask based on those numbers.
posted by Toddles at 4:40 PM on January 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Please make sure to frame this as new parent leave -- not maternity leave, which some frame as being akin to disability leave -- and include adoption, not just birth.

You might frame this as being a benefit for all, rather than making it a case where individuals have to negotiate their own leave.

Here's an article from Parents that might help. Here's another from Harvard Business Review.

Moms Rising is another good resource.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:37 PM on January 7, 2017

Recent resources

I read up on this a long time ago in my twenties. Books and articles about European policies compared to U.S. policies can be extremely helpful.

It might go over better to frame the letter like you assume the director would love to do good things and it isn't their fault they inherited this all too common situation for an American organization. Try to get into a frame of mind of "I am helping empower them to accomplish their stated goal by putting good information and reliable resources into their hands. I am just doing the legwork their busy schedule does not allow them to do." Try really hard to not think of it like you need to talk them into it because they are bad people and hypocrites and yadda. That will come through in your framing and be counterproductive.

Yes, they actually may be terrible hypocrites and yadda. But your letter will be vastly better if you can cleanse your mind of that and convince yourself that you are just helpfully putting information together for good people who will act on it if they can, god willing and the crick don't rise.
posted by Michele in California at 10:00 AM on January 8, 2017

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