When Alexis Ohanian’s wife had their first child in September 2017, he took 16 weeks of paid family leave, a perk offered by the venture capital company he owns.
He is well-aware that not all men get paid paternity leave and he’d like that to change, he told the Associated Press this week.
So Ohanian - the co-founder of Reddit and husband of tennis great Serena Williams - is lending his voice to a call for universal paid family leave.
Ohanian has joined forces with Dove Men+Care. The company is giving $1 million to dads and families nationwide “who don’t have access to paid paternity leave,” the company said this week in a press release.
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The company is also asking people to sign the “Pledge for Paternity Leave” to support “every dad’s right to paid leave,” says the press release.
About two-thirds of Americans do not have access to paid family leave, according to CBS News.
“Paid leave for new parents is a rarity in the United States — the only industrialized nation that doesn’t require it for new moms,” though some states, including California and New York, make paid time off available to new parents, CBS reported.
“It was immediately after the birth of Olympia and all the complications that my wife went though that I really understood how much of a difference it makes,” Ohanian told CBS. “I could not imagine a dad having to make the decision about going back to work or being there for their partner or for their child.”
Through the Dove initiative, dads who don’t get paid leave from their employers are invited to apply for $5,000 grants, the AP reported. Dads can go here to apply.
“With all the advantages we had, it was still a really stressful period,” Ohanian told the AP. “I could not have showed up at work a week later, or two weeks later, knowing that my wife literally could not get herself out of bed with a 2-week-old at home. They would have had to fire me.”
He told CBS he plans to “lobby Congress later this year to pass a federal leave law.”
“For a country that purports to care about families as much as the United States says it does, this is a no-brainer,” he told CBS.