What does the VP of Twitter have to say about flexible work and paternal leave?

Most of the time, I gotta admit, I LOVE my job. Last week it was networking at Henley and this week it was a private breakfast hosted by Digital Marketing Consultancy Firm: OneFifty at Wood Wharf.

It was an invitation I simply couldn’t turn down… the VP of Twitter, podcaster and author of ‘The Joy of Work’, Bruce Daisley spoke on how to fix work culture.

Here are some facts Bruce shared which might shock you…

😠 The average British office worker has seen their working day go up by 23%, or two hours a day from 7.5 to 9.5 hours

😠 One US research study found that 60% of professionals were remaining connected to work 13.5 hours a day every weekday (so guilty) and another five hours at weekends – adding up to a working week of over seventy hours of connectivity.

😠 A global workforce survey conducted by Gallup found that where firms had an expectation that employees would stay connected outside office hours, 62% of them duly did.

Founder of TechPixies, Joy Foster with VP of Twitter, author and podcaster Bruce Daisley

So I wanted to know… how can women who want flexible non-full time work function in today’s hyper-connected working world?

The answer is two-fold. On the one hand, the hyper-connectivity allows women work around their other commitments. However, more dangerously, it means that women who are supposed to be working 2-3 days end up being connected for up to 7 without necessarily getting paid for it.

When I asked the VP of Twitter what the flexible working culture was like at Twitter, he paused a moment and then admitted that improvements could be made as the culture is still a 40-50 hour work week. That said, he shared the story of one of their top marketing execs who took time of to have a baby and came back to 3 1/2 days. When a promotion came up, many on the leadership team fought for her to get the promotion and keep her flexibility (albeit at 4 days not 3 1/2) and convinced others on the leadership team who wanted a full time person that SHE was the right one for the job and that they should make it work for HER (and not replace her with someone full time).

I was also SUPER interested in what the paternity leave at Twitter was like and it turns out – it is quite generous. Men get the option of taking five months off. I didn’t get into the details of how much they were paid during that time, but I did ask him if anyone he knew had taken advantage of the policy. His boss had – but had only taken one month off (not the full five).

I’m a big fan of Dame Helena Morrissey and one of her big pushes in her book ‘It’s a good time to be a girl’ is that if you can get men on board, you’ll start to see the change you want to happen – because, let’s face it, the men still call the shots in the corporate world. So… when she wanted to get 30% of women on boards, the turning point came when when a prominent male CEOs stood up and said it was the right thing to do.

You might be quick to criticize the VP of Twitter’s boss for only taking one month and not five full months BUT you’d be missing the point. The point is that he did actually take at least one month (in the UK only about 2% of men take it at all). By taking paternity leave, he opened up the possibility for more men to take it too. Bruce Daisley reckons that nearly ALL of the guys he knows who have the ability to take paternity leave at Twitter now take it, with 90% of them taking the full 5 months.

Progress people. This is what it looks like.

When I asked Daisley if he had additional thoughts on paternity leave, he pointed out that companies who have an open holiday policy (i.e. take as many days as you like) actually have fewer holidays taken – meaning that unless you mandate holiday to your team, they won’t take it because they don’t want to look like they aren’t working. Paternity leave, Daisley suggested, might just have to be mandated in order to actually be taken up.

Of course… there is one slight problem which might make mandatory paternity leave unattractive – the fact that paternity pay is not as equal as maternity pay in the UK. On the plus side, maybe that will force some men to fight for their right to have equal parental leave to women!

What a morning! Despite the 5am alarm and 3 hour journey into London. It was well worth it. I’ll definitely be reading Bruce Daisley’s book ‘The Joy of Work’ and listening to his podcast ‘Eat Work Sleep Repeat’. Will you?

Like this post? Sign up for our weekly tips!