The Fraud of the New “Family-Friendly” Work

Netflix just announced it’s offering paid leave to new mothers and fathers for the first year after the birth or adoption of a child. Other high-tech firms are close behind.

Some big law firms are also getting into the act. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe is offering 22 paid weeks off for both male and female attorneys.

Even Wall Street is taking baby steps in the direction of family-friendly work. Goldman Sachs just doubled paid parental leave to four weeks

All this should be welcome news. Millennials now constitute the largest segment of the American work force. Many are just forming families, so the new family-friendly policies seem ideally timed.

But before we celebrate the dawn of a new era, keep two basic truths in mind.

First, these new policies apply only to a tiny group considered “talent” – highly educated and in high demand.

They’re getting whatever perks firms can throw at them in order to recruit and keep them.

“Netflix’s continued success hinges on us competing for and keeping the most talented individuals in their field,” writes Tawni Cranz, Netflix’s chief talent officer.

That Neflix has a “chief talent officer” tells you a lot.

Netflix’s new policy doesn’t apply to all Netflix employees, by the way. Those in Netflix’s DVD division aren’t covered. They’re not “talent.”

They’re like the vast majority of American workers – considered easily replaceable.

Employers treat replaceable workers as costs to be cut, not as assets to be developed.

Replaceable workers almost never get paid family leave, they get a few paid sick days, and barely any vacation time.

If such replaceables are eligible for 12 weeks of family leave it’s only because the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (which I am proud to have implemented when labor secretary under Bill Clinton) requires it.

But Family and Medical leave time doesn’t come with pay – which is why only 40 percent of eligible workers can afford to use it. And it doesn’t cover companies or franchisees with fewer than 50 employees.

Almost all other advanced nations provide three or four months paid leave – to fathers as well as mothers. Plus paid sick leave, generous vacation time, and limits on how many work hours employers can demand.  

The second thing to know about the new family-friendly work policies is that relatively few talented millennials are taking advantage of them.

They can’t take the time.

One of my former Berkeley students who’s now at a tech firm across the Bay told me he’s working fifteen-hour days.

Another, who’s at a Washington law firm, said she’s on call 24-7. Emails often arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why the emails haven’t been answered.

These young men won’t take paternity leave and these young women won’t even get pregnant – because it looks bad.

Forget work-life balance. It’s work-as-life.

A recent New York Times story about Amazon reports that when young workers hit the wall from the unrelenting pace, they’re told to climb it.  

Why do the talented millennials work so hard?

Partly because being promoted – getting more equity, running a division, making partner – promises such vast rewards. Vaster rewards than any generation before them has ever been offered.  

Also, you’re either on the fast track or you’re on a dead-end road.

“I’ve got to show total dedication,” one of my former students explained. “It’s all or nothing.”

Which is why millennial men – who research shows have more egalitarian attitudes about family and gender roles than their predecessors – are nonetheless failing to live up to their values once they hit the treadmills.

It’s also why women on such high-powered career tracks are delaying or ultimately giving up on being mothers. 

Or they’re giving up on the fast track.

After the collapse of 2000, the share of women working in high tech dropped sharply. And although tech recovered, female participation is still 6 percent lower than in 1998.

If they’re lucky, women on the fast track can afford to buy their way to motherhood. Marissa Mayer, appointed Yahoo’s CEO while six months pregnant, was back at her desk two weeks later.

It’s possible for such women to have it all – to “lean in” as Sheryl Sandberg puts it – only because they have enough resources for 24-hour childcare, car service for the kids and nannies, and all the extra help needed.

I’m delighted Netflix and other high-powered firms are offering family-friendly work.

But I take most of it with a grain of silicon. So should you. 

I had to give my mom a math lesson last night

We were eating dinner and talking about tuition. Her husband (not my dad but different story) was telling us that when he went to school, tuition was $200 a semester when he graduated in 1967. The current full time student rate is about $6000 per semester. Minimum wage in 1967 was about $1.15, while it is now $8.50 in Minnesota. 

In 1967, you would have to work probably about 15 hours a week to pay off tuition for a semester just working during the 15 week semester. 

With today’s tuition and minimum wage, one would have to work over 45 hours a week to pay off tuition. 

This doesn’t even include other living expenses like rent and food and books. Please don’t tell me that my generation in entitled when we litereally have to work three times as much to pay for a college degree, which is increasingly seen as a necessity to advance in workforce.
The Most Entitled Generation Isn't Millennials
The economic tragedy of the Millennial generation was written before many of us had even learned to read.
By Ross Pomeroy and William Handke, RealClearPolitics

“The truth: The economic tragedy of the Millennial generation was written before many of us had even learned to read — Baby Boomer parents and grandparents who, at once, genuinely love and care for us, but have also created or perpetuated institutions, policies, and economic realities that have now hobbled us.”

Proud Family Was So Important... our generation…like Disney had no cartoons portraying black culture and The Proud Family come along as our generation’s Fat Albert. The Proud Family touched on all the types of black kids you’d find on the play ground as well as the problems we faced. Definitely a black culture icon for millennials.

Hey y’all so this is how I survive, and since there’s minimum balances on my bank accounts literally all I can afford to save, each month, IF nothing emergency-ish happens and if I literally don’t buy anything but food and don’t do anything but pay my bills is $70

If I had no student loans, I’d be saving 280 dollars a month.

If I had no student loans, I could save around 3300 dollars a year, and instead I MAY be able to save 840. 

So if I wanted to save enough to pay for a single year of college for a child (if I had one) or if I wanted to buy a car, it would only take me 41  years to save enough to do that.

If I want to have a VERY small, VERY inexpensive wedding, it’ll take me 11 years to save for it.

If I want to put a down payment on a house, it’ll take me around 50 years to save for it.

When I borrow from my emergency savings (which currently amount to roughly what I could save in six years) it takes me five or six months to pay that money back, and that’s if I can. 

I work a full time, salaried job, and have a BA in Communications. This should not be my situation.

But due to a desperation for money, many entry level employees are being paid less and less, because the presumption is that we will literally take any job, at any pay, that offers survival salary and benefits, out of fear that we will not find another. Companies are farming entry-level employees, and getting higher and higher turn-over rates because they know they can replace you. The internet is teeming with replacements for you. Who will take your job and your salary in a second. Hardly anyone is developing talents within their organizations or allowing upward movement for their millennial employees. As a developable talent, I am concerned, broke, and scared for the future.

To all my 20 somethings- You’re not stuck.

So you’re not at your dream job yet. Maybe you’re working retail or in the food industry right now. But the job you have now is helping you make progress.

Maybe it’s helping you move out of your parents place.

Maybe it’s helping you save for a car to drive to your dream job.

Maybe it’s helping you save up for college courses, or pay for textbooks.

Maybe It’s helping you pay off student loans while you keep applying to jobs you  really want.

Maybe it’s helping you save to travel to the state or country where your dream job is waiting for you.

Maybe it’s paying for art supplies or submission fees to literary magazines.

You’re not stuck. Be patient with yourself. You’ll get where you want to be.


In August I average five hours of sleep and drink too much coffee and find myself wearing sunglasses inside more often than not. I shake more than usual.

In August I notice that concealer no longer camouflages the dark circles under my eyes and I cancel dates so I can go home and crawl into bed.

In August I notice that I only truly have two toenails. Abused by many years of running many miles, the rest have been clipped down within a centimeter of life, if they’re lucky, or gone completely. I paint patches of callused skin a dark grey. Merino Cool, the bottle says. I feel anything but.

You’re supposed to be in your prime, not supposed to be wasting your time.

In August I lash out at you and tell you that I don’t expect you to understand.

In August we talk for hours on end and I tell you repeatedly you’re my best friend.

In August I realize that I haven’t been home in six months, so I get on a train.

In August I entertain old dads on stationary bikes because I watch classic rock concerts while elliptical-ing for centuries at the gym.

In August I get drinks with a boy (man?) who marvels that I am “truly a child of the ‘70s” and I try to hide my ecstatic grin.

Good times, bad times, you know I’ve had my fill.

In August I write about Taylor Swift and houseboats and other people.

In August I stumble through Times Square slightly tipsy, feeling electric. We were invited to a club, but instead we decide to bail, take the A home, and fall asleep to American Hustle at 3 a.m. We wake up at dawn.

In August I reluctantly buy Skinnygirl Margarita on more than one occasion and agree that it tastes like spiked Gatorade. I drink it anyway.

In August I find a new path for an old scheme that breaks my spell of self-doubt. I get excited about little things again.

The dream was never over. The dream has just begun.

Someone is taking their activities too serious! #Millennial
#tech by day #countrysinger by night!
#startuplife #Texan #blasian #biracial #blackgirl #asiangirl #irishgirl #techlife #SiliconValley #technerd #womenintech #guitar #baylife #makeupdone #singlelife #vegan #bwwm #straightedge