It’s great to see companies like Netflix getting more generous with maternity and paternity leave. But credit is really due to the people for whom these new policies are intended.
American millennials, famous for their progressive attitudes and strong sense of entitlement, look to be forcing the hand of US employers in competitive sectors like technology to vie for their talent and retention—in ways that previous generations never would have even thought to ask for. (Who knew an American company would ever provide parental leave on a scale anywhere close to what’s offered in Sweden?)
But these new moms and dads need to move quickly if they want workplace policies that will serve them well during subsequent stages of parenthood. As experienced working parents know, the work-life balance questions that preoccupy us early on—How much leave am I allowed to take? How much leave can I afford to take? How can I just kiss that sweet baby and go off to work when the leave ends?—seem quaint compared with what follows.
For a dozen years or more, parents might worry about things like access to affordable childcare, conflicts between work and school events, and the sheer relentlessness of the five-nights-a-week scramble to get everyone home, fed, cleaned, and ready for the next day, with the homework done, the lunchbox packed, and a bedtime that wouldn’t be completely embarrassing to report to the pediatrician.
At the moment, American companies do very little to assist their employees with any of this. Maybe the millennials can change that. Their Gen-X elders—at least those who still have some years of childrearing to go—will be counting on them.—Heather Landy
Five things on Quartz we especially liked
What’s wrong with the internet in Africa. Not slow connections—they’ve gotten a lot better. The problem is that most of the websites Africans look at are hosted overseas, which leads to high latency (delays) and high costs. On Quartz Africa, Uri Bram looks at the data and a possible solution.
The most powerful person in Europe. You’re probably thinking Dijsselbloem, Merkel, Juncker, Draghi, or even Tsipras. But no, says Leo Mirani: It’s Andrus Ansip, the European commissioner in charge of the “digital single market.” In an interview with Quartz, he explains the point of digital integration, his hatred of geo-blocking, and why it’s a myth that Europe has it in for American tech companies.
A second life for Second Life? The exotic virtual world that enthusiasts populate with daring creations never went fully mainstream. Now its founders think they have a solution: Build a new version, with different economic rules, easier tools, and and a full-on, 3D virtual-reality interface. Alice Truong examines whether this new future will be more appealing than the old one.
China’s lost generation of kids. Tens of millions of rural Chinese come to the cities as migrant workers with their kids in tow, but have neither the time to spend with them nor the means to educate them, and some youngsters grow up barely able to talk. Coco Feng and Jane Li on the generation that’s being sacrificed to China’s economic leap forward.
Uber’s political power. Tim Fernholz shows how the online car service, for all its controversy, has infiltrated the US political system, by looking at how much each campaign has spent on rides, interviewing Uber’s political strategist who forced New York mayor Bill de Blasio to back down, and talking to the company’s security chief who defends it against critics in California.
A podcast we like, and think you’ll like too
This week, our podcast Actuality gorges itself on caviar to understand why the supply chain behind a luxury good is more important than ever. Also, a semi-aquatic, invasive rodent may solve the “fur is murder” problem. Plus, the market in gothic poultry.
Five things elsewhere that made us smarter
The Chinese lingerie-sellers at the forefront of globalization. In the most conservative parts of Egypt, scrappy Chinese entrepreneurs sell racy lingerie to women normally required to wear a full niqab. Peter Hessler, writing in the New Yorker, finds out what drives uneducated Chinese migrants to venture to the Middle East and sell what Egyptians themselves never would.
Against the “Great Man” theory of technology. It’s time to scale back the hero-worship of tech CEOs like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, argues Amanda Schaffer in MIT Tech Review. Not only do they take credit for the work of many others, but exalting them encourages distortions in the tech industry that are ultimately bad for technological progress.
An unexpected sport in an unexpected place. Historically, lacrosse is a sport of the privileged. Vanity Fair’s Buzz Bissinger tells the story of Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership, a program that teaches kids in some of New York’s roughest neighborhoods to thrive both on the field and in the classroom, and uses it as a parable of why, despite the worsening reputation of American college sports, sport still matters.
Why voters love “America’s Master Idiot.” It can be hard to understand the popular appeal of Donald Trump, whose buffoonery dominated Thursday’s Republican presidential debate in the US. Drew Magary goes to watch The Donald in action in small-town Iowa for GQ, and talks to his supporters in a bid to explain why he plays so well in the heartland.
The climate-change nightmares are here. Global warming seems to happen too slowly to jolt the public and politicians into action. That might be about to change, writes Eric Holthaus in Rolling Stone; new studies suggest some impacts might happen a lot faster than previously predicted, including a 10-foot (3-meter) sea-level rise by 2065. Rethink your real-estate investments.
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