Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian took 16 weeks off to be with his family when his daughter was born. Here's a look inside his fight for paid paternity leave — and why he's bringing it to Congress
- Alexis Ohanian may have made it big as the cofounder ofReddit and as aventure capitalist, but he spends more of his time discussing his newest job:fatherhood.
- Ohanian believes that parental leave isn’t just good forfamilies, it’s good for businesses, he toldFast Company.
- Ohanian is working to makepaid paternity leave “the law of the land,” and is taking the fight toCongress in October, according to Fast Company.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Famous fathers aren’t held to a high enough standard, Reddit cofounder-turned-venture-capitalist Alexis Ohanian toldFast Company.
That’s partially why he’s been outspoken about his decision to take 16 weeks of paid leave after his daughter withSerena Williams was born in 2017.
Since then, Ohanian has become a leader in the fight for paid paternal leave, and his social media profiles are the front lines.
Read more:Alexis Ohanian has taken out billboards for wife Serena Williams, but he says a simple Sunday morning ritual means more to their relationship
Now, he told Fast Company, it’s time to take the battle to Congress.
“It’s not a question of IF we’ll get #paidfamilyleave in the USA, just a matter of WHEN,” Ohaniantweeted, “And WHEN we do, we need dads to take full advantage of it.”
Keep reading to learn more about Ohanian’s own experience with paternity leave and what he’s done to make sure other fathers can have the same experience.
Ohanian has a one-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., with his wife, tennis star Serena Williams.
Ohanian married Williams in November 2017 and brought their newborn along for the ride.
After his daughter’s birth, Ohanian took 16 weeks of paternity leave and has publicly encouraged other fathers to do the same.
“Out of office,” Ohanian wrote on Instagram in September 2017. “This is Parental Leave life. She’s clearly dreaming up all the startups she’ll start… And Grand Slams she’ll win…. And….”
Source:Good Morning America
Williams suffered from health problems after Olympia’s birth, requiring Ohanian to take charge of Olympia’s care.
The situation “solidified the importance” of paid parental leave for Ohanian, he toldFast Company. “I know how fortunate we are, and it’s heartbreaking to think how many American families have to go through some version of this and have an existential fear of losing their job or not being there for their family when their family needs it most.”
Since the birth of his daughter, Ohanian has used his social media platforms to celebrate the way fatherhood has transformed his outlook on life.
“Becoming a father has meant I get to re-experience things through the fresh, unjaded eyes of my daughter,” Ohanian wrote on Instagram in March.
“Even just some delicious fresh fruit merits a happy dance. I’m getting to relearn what it means to be joyful myself. Even small moments of appreciation and reflection are going a long way.”
And paid parental leave isn’t just good for families, according to Ohanian — it’s also good for business.
“I call out hustle porn for its BS and celebrate founders who are taking care of themselves and spending time with their families because it’s the right business decision,” Ohanian toldFast Company.
Ohanian has become an advocate for paid paternity leave, partnering with Dove Men+Care to promote The Pledge for Paternity Leave, a program offering grants to working dads to help them care for their newborns full-time.
“With 30k+ pledges for #PaternityLeavePledge, my partner @dovemencare& I launched a NEW @Facebook group to mobilize dads & allies,” Ohanian tweeted in June. “Join us this #FathersDay to help make paternity leave the new standard for all dads.”
He’s been outspoken about some of the more shocking statistics about the state of paternity leave in the US.
“Only 15% of dads in the U.S. have access to paid leave to bond with their newborn,” Ohanian captioned a photo on Instagram in February. “Let’s change that.”
“Join me and @dovemencare in pledging for change. #DoveMenPartner#PaternityLeavePledge”
Ohanian also uses his platform to praise companies, including Sweetgreen and Target, that offer paid parental leave to their employees.
“Excited to see this arms race happening right now for #PaidFamilyLeave benefits,” Ohanian tweeted. “@SweetGreen giving employees 5 months (!!) of family leave now + @Target made big moves this week. It’s not just tech companies.”
He’s also planning to meet with Congressional leaders to discuss legislation for federally mandated paid leave, he told Fast Company.
“I hope to be meeting with many senators, representatives, plenty of dads, on both sides of the aisle, in both houses of the Legislature, who want this to be the law of the land,” Ohanian said on ” Good Morning America.” “What we are looking for is some minimum number of weeks of leave.”
Ohanian is already pretty accomplished in his own right — he cofounded Reddit and launched his own venture capital firm, Initialized Capital, in 2011.
“2009 (freshfaced) on stage at @ted giving a talk about @reddit,” Ohanian captioned a post on Instagram. “2019 (bearded with many grays) after countless speaking appearances, my toughest crowd is now convincing @olympiaohanian that raspberries alone are not a complete meal. In between these photos, I left Reddit, started some other companies, wrote a bestselling book, returned to help lead the Reddit turnaround, left again in order to do @initialized full-time, married the incomparable @serenawilliams, and — my proudest achievement yet — co-created this little human. Not a bad decade. I cannot wait for the next 10 years. #DadThings”
But he says that being a father is the most important role he’ll ever have.
“Forget @reddit, forget @initialized,” Ohanian tweeted, “the most important job I’ll ever have is being a father. Are you a parent? Add your voice to the @UNICEF parenting poll. #EarlyMomentsMatter”
And, in an essay for Glamour, he noted that paternity leave gave him the opportunity to “show up” for his partner.
“I see taking leave as one of the most fundamental ways to ‘show up’ for your partner and your family,” Ohanian wrote in an essay forGlamour, “and I cherished all 16 weeks I was able to take.”
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