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Why Alexis Ohanian Taking Parental Leave Is So Important

by Kaitlin Kimont

While not every American parent can do what Alexis Ohanian is doing after Serena Williams gives birth, it's so important and could serve as a stepping stone toward making paid family leave — for both moms and dads — the new norm in the United States. During a recent appearance on CNBC's Squawk Box, the Reddit co-founder revealed that he will be taking six weeks of leave when their new baby arrives in September. It might seem like the obvious next step for a new dad to do, but a lot of parents don't have this option, as the United States is seriously lacking when it comes to paid family leave policies.

And that's why, as the leader of one of the biggest tech companies around, Ohanian implementing — and talking about — this benefit is a step in the right direction.

"At Reddit, it's really important for us to support men and women when they are welcoming a new member to the family," the 34-year-old entrepreneur told CNBC's Squawk Box last week. "And so we've got a pretty generous parental leave policy. I'll be taking off for six weeks myself and trying to do the best job possible as a first time dad."

Ohanian also said during the interview that, at Reddit, there is "dedicated office space" for new moms to nurse or just have time to themselves. "It's actually the nicest rooms in the office," he told CNBC. "We want to create a place where we attract the best and brightest people and the only way to do that is to be supportive of new parents."

And Ohanian won't be the first Reddit employee to utilize this benefit: Zubair Jandali, the company's VP of sales, also recently took family leave. "He took time off to spend time with his family and we want that to happen because we want to break that stereotype that the men work and the women take care of kids," Ohanian said during the same interview. "We want to give that opportunity to everyone."

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While some of the largest and most profitable companies in the United States now provide paid family leave like Reddit does, 114 million Americans still don't have this benefit, according to a report from PL+US: Paid Leave for the United States, a non-profit advocating for paid family leave. In fact, one in four new moms in the United States go back to work "just 10 days after childbirth," the report found.

There is still a lot of work to be done in order to catch up with the rest of the world in regard to a national family leave policy. And with enough attention on the issue, hopefully other companies will implement these invaluable benefits, too.