Families are having a tough time and that’s especially hard on children. So, you’d think that would generate empathy and generosity. Instead, it looks like selfish gene has taken over.
Let me not overstate the problem. But a New York Times story about the ugly and petty clashes pitting Silicon Valley workers with children vs. the those without children is sad commentary on where we are.
When Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, hosted a companywide videoconference on Aug. 20, more than 2,000 employees voted to ask her what more Facebook could do to support nonparents, since its other policies had benefited parents.
The question struck a nerve. An employee wrote in comments accompanying the video feed that it was “unfair” that nonparents could not take advantage of the same leave policy afforded parents. Another wrote that while the procedure for taking leave was usually difficult, it was “easy breezy” for parents.
This problem repeated at Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google. Inter-office chats raged with childless employees expressing frustration with their co-workers who have children, and working parents firing back.
A key to understanding the conflict, at least in my mind, is this snippet from the story: “[the problem is] where workers tend to be younger and have come to expect generous perks and benefits in exchange for letting their jobs take over their lives.”
This is an indictment of the always-on self-loving generation who demand to compensated greatly for losing themselves into work (something that is killing them).
It’s also a mark against the previous generation that parented them during the self-esteem movement which produced little more than entitlement and isolation.
We should fear repeating those detachment issues with today’s kids who are out-of-school and living through Chromebooks, iPads, and iPhones.
Isn’t it telling the Times’ story is set at tech companies? They are basically narcissism factories providing clout chasing ME-llennials digital tools to live that selfie life, why wouldn’t they attract workers who put their wants ahead of the needs of others.?
Can we really expect the generation that swipes left or right for love to demonstrate genuine empathy? Can we get them to look up from their app long enough to see 9 million of their fellow Americans have dropped out of work to care for children or an elder relative?
These families don’t have employer-paid wading pools, bike repair shops, free meals, and doggie cafes – but, who cares?
But, they should. We all should. I’m as libertarian as the next guy, but your issues will often become “our” issues.
Nearly one in five working adults reports not working because the pandemic shuttered childcare options. That’s crazy.
According to the federal government “Of those not working, women ages 25-44 are almost three times as likely as men to not be working due to childcare demands.”
I don’t know when we stopped believing that children and their parents should be a policy priority? And, no, it isn’t one generation of us suffering from an empathy deficit. America is afflicted with that as a whole.
I don’t have an answer for what workplaces do to make their childless workers feel they have benefits equal to working parents, but I know more than ever we need everyone to put kids first.
If not, we’ll all face death by selfie.
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