One of the big themes of my book (turned in the revision yesterday—woohoo!) is that while U.S. policy around parental leave and reentry may stink, real cultural change can happen right now, politics aside, one woman and one workplace at a time.
Often, on this blog, I'll look at other countries and see how they're getting things right. Why not steal some great ideas and bring the home, right? Weelllll, a new report out of the U.K., conducted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission shows that even the most generous maternity leave policies aren't perfect. A huge 77% of the 3000 U.K. mothers surveyed had experienced "negative or possibly discriminatory" behavior at work either before, during, or after maternity leave, according to the report. In a word: Yikes. This is a country where women and men are entitled to share 50 weeks of leave per child and still these biases continue.
I'm a glass is half full woman. So, instead of being defeated by this statistic, I'm going to choose to think of it this way: We can't rely on broad, sweeping policies to make all of the changes we'd like to see for new parents. They are only a start. You—yes you, mom, new mom, mom-to-be, one-day mom—can make the real change happen here by:
A) Pointing out and stopping discrimination when you see it at work in even the most subtle ways
B) Proving, by example, that women come back from maternity leave more capable than before, not less.