The next time you find yourself cursing Ikea while trying to assemble their impossibly complicated Svärta bunk bed frame, remember this: it turns out the Swedish furniture giant is one of just a handful of large corporations that operate in the United States that provide paid parental leave equally to all new parents.
The research, conducted by Paid Leave for the United States (PL+US), gives voice to a reality many gay fathers already know. If you are a father, LGBTQ, or an adoptive parent---and many of us are all three---you can often find yourself shut out from corporate America's paid parental leave policies.
"Most Fortune 500 companies now pride themselves on offering equal benefits to their LGBTQ+ employees and have evolved many of their policies toward inclusivity," the report says in the introduction. "But since LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be adoptive parents or dual-father households, unequal paid family leave remains one striking area in which major companies are leaving these employees out."
The findings are based on a survey of 44 of the largest employers in the United States. The results showed a clear trend of fathers and adoptive parents being left out of parental leave policies. 17 of the companies leave out all or some of the dads and adoptive parents in their workforce, while 8 of these companies---including the Gap, Staples, and Walgreens---provide no leave whatsoever to fathers or adoptive parents.
Others---including Amazon, Apple, and Procter & Gamble---provide less paid family leave to dads and adoptive parents than what is provided for birth mothers.
Only 10 of the companies surveyed---including Ikea, Target, and Levi's---provide paid family leave equally to all parents, regardless of gender or adoptive status.
The authors note that unequal policies such as these might not be meant to intentionally discriminate against LGBTQ parents. But the end result is the same, regardless. "Parental leave policies that actively discriminate against fathers and adoptive parents are a de facto way of excluding many LGBTQ+ employees and their families," according to the report. "Same-sex couples are four times more likely than heterosexual couples to be raising an adopted child. Thus, policies that leave out adoptive parents are also much more likely to exclude LGBTQ+ parents. "
Though disappointing, the results of this research will probably not shock many gay men who are dads, many of who had to cobble together vacation, sick days and unpaid time off in order to have time at home with a newborn or adopted child.
Of course, the solution to this problem is to pull the United States out of the dark ages by finally enacting a federal paid family leave program---one inclusive of all parents. But while we wait for Washington to get its act together, corporate America can and should lead by example.
Read the full report here.