By Amanda Weston
While the vast majority of American men believe they are entitled to paid parental leave, only 15 percent actually have access to those benefits. Alexis Ohanian is teaming up with Dove Men+Care to change that.
As part of his mission, the co-founder and managing partner of Initialized Capital announced The Pledge for Paternity Leave on Tuesday. Dove Men+Care is also launching The Paternity Leave Fund, a $1 million commitment to help a select group of new dads who don't have access to paid leave with $5,000 grants.
"These are all steps toward getting a federally mandated policy and really changing the perception around dads taking advantage of leave, because it's important," Ohanian, also a new father, told Cheddar Tuesday.
Ohanian has been a vocal advocate for paid paternity leave since he took time off to bond with his infant daughter Olympia and to support his wife, tennis superstar Serena Williams, after her delivery was followed by life-threatening complications.
"I think the idea of being a provider has always been a core part of the sort of mythology around being a father," Ohanian said. "But what's changed, especially for our generation, millennials, is the definition of what it means to provide has expanded to be more than just a check ー to be about time, to be about throwing the football, to be about, you know, dancing to songs from 'Moana' for the thousandth time, and that's the part that really matters."
Ohanian said the U.S. is the only industrialized country that lacks federally-mandated paid family leave. But he also believes the issue will play a large part in the upcoming 2020 campaigns.
"I believe this is one of those rare bipartisan issues right now that has support," Ohanian said.
"It has support in Congress from members of both the right and the left. Because it comes back to a family values issue, and because frankly, dads getting time to spend with their families and their newborns is a deeply satisfying, deeply important thing."
In addition to partnering with Dove Men+Care, Ohanian plans to lobby lawmakers in Washington, D.C., this year and is working with other organizations to help push the issue forward.
"Especially at a time when this country is so divided, it's wonderful to have an issue that pretty much has no detractors," Ohanian said. "I think the key part is going to be figuring out how to implement it and how it gets paid for. But that's a policy decision that folks can figure out. But when it comes to the actual issue, Americans want it."
For full interview click here.