Mark Zuckerberg’s paternity leave: a communication without innovation?
Back in the Summer 2000 in France, Jean-Marie Messier, CEO of Vivendi at the time, was presented in the magazine Paris Match as « this modern boss (who) takes a day off every Wednesday to look after his five children ».
Fifteen years later, the « modern boss » is American. He doesn’t take a day off but a paternity leave. Mark Zuckerberg announced it at the end of November, on Facebook of course. « This is a very personal decision (…) I’ve decided to take two months of paternity leave ». A very personal decision indeed, but aiming for a societal dimension. In the United States or in Great-Britain, parental leave is not foreseen in legal texts. Therefore, private companies were the ones to set this trend. At Virgin for instance, Richard Branson announced last Summer he would offer new dads up to 12 months paternity leave on full pay (in one of the Group’s branches, located in London and Geneva). Mark Zuckerberg is thus following the path of such companies, while at the same time making a nice employer brand operation. « At Facebook, we offer to our US employees up to four months of paid maternity or paternity leave which they can take throughout the year », said the proud daddy. He also handed over 99% of its shares to his Foundation on the occasion of the birth. But again, nothing new, he was just following the footsteps of pioneers like Bill Gates who donated a large part of their wealth for their philanthropy actions without changing lifestyle.
A symbolic communication of the 2.0 era
« Max, we love you and we feel a great responsibility to leave the world a better place for you and all children. We wish you a life filled with the same love, hope and joy you give us. We can’t wait to see what you bring to this world », he wrote in a letter to his child. The baby’s photo on Facebook and his “personal” confession about the difficulty he and his wife had to have a child… An inescapable “share” from the boss of the social network, aimed to become a classic in the age of 2.0.
Innovation is not necessarily where you’d expect it to be
When we look at it closer, there was an innovation in what he did not communicate about. Because if Mark Zuckerberg quoted « studies [which] show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, the results are better for children and families », a more confidential study he has not mentioned yet gives it an edge. A US study covered in Famili shows, indeed, that “young daddies take more easily paternity leave if their newborn is a… boy! Having a male baby increases by 50% the chances that the father takes the leave! » . Now, and it was not yet specified, Max is a girl.