Tina Fey Gets a Longer Maternity Leave. What About Me?
I just read that Tina Fey got a “early birthday gift” when the President of NBC bumped the season premier of 30 Rock from September to January to allow Fey to extend her maternity leave. My knee-jerk reaction was “we should all be so lucky to have the luxuries of Tina Fey.” But then it occurred to me, “I wonder how many of us could make this kind of “luck” for ourselves if we followed Tina Fey’s lead. I understand that most companies will not hold a major project to accommodate an expecting mom’s newborn bonding needs. But what makes Tina Fey different is that she has made herself irreplaceable. Now, we can’t all have the luxury of building a super successful career in a very public way that makes us quite as unique a commodity as Tina Fey, but we can all work to make ourselves uniquely valuable in our own jobs. Only by putting that effort in, and proving our value, can we expect to be in a position to negotiate the luxuries of flexibility, extended leaves, etc. Sure, in Europe all women get maternity leaves of 1+ years, and sure a handful of organizations here in the US offer their employees 6 months paid leave and all sort of extra perks. But the fact is, that’s not the case for 99% of working mothers in the US.
What do you think? Is it fair that you have to be a star performer to earn a longer leave or flex schedule? Should companies expect something in return for these kinds of benefits? What is the right balance between the new mother’s needs and her employer’s expectations?