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Opinion | Parents vs. Nonparents in the Workplace

To the Editor:

A familiar, burning rage came over me as I read “Time Off for Parenting Angers Childless in the Tech Industry” (front page, Sept. 6) during Labor Day weekend. My husband and two kids had scattered to different sections of our small home so we could each seek as much “alone time” as possible under the extended quarantine and more than two weeks of unhealthy smoke from nearby forest fires.

What struck me most was how absent the pandemic was in this story. The nonparents complaining about their unequal workplace accommodations failed to even acknowledge that Covid-19 was driving the urgent need for more workplace flexibility.

Ultimately, this isn’t about parents or nonparents. This is about a large portion of the work force coping the best they can with a long-term disaster not of their own making. If a company had an office in a region destroyed by a hurricane, we would afford our colleagues the time they needed to get to safety and regain some semblance of normalcy. For parents in the time of Covid, this is our reality: six months and counting. No one wants to return to “normal” more than we do.

Ashley Boyd
Berkeley, Calif.
The writer is a vice president at the Mozilla Foundation, the nonprofit owner of the Mozilla Corporation, the maker of Firefox.

To the Editor:

I understand that accommodations given to parents during the pandemic might engender resentment among nonparents, who feel that they’re getting the short end of the stick. I think, however, that such resentment represents a denial of the fact that having children isn’t merely a lifestyle choice. Rather, it is a vitally important contribution to the survival and well-being of any society.

We all have a stake in the education and nurture of the rising generation — and in the sanity of their parents, teachers and other caregivers.

Glenna Matthews
Laguna Beach, Calif.

To the Editor:

As an executive in tech who is about to take parental leave for my first child, I don’t understand the complaints by nonparents. When my employees and colleagues have taken parental leave, I’ve been nothing but happy for them. I’ve also understood the bottom-line benefits to the company as a whole.

By making sure we give parents time to take care of their children, we hold on to great employees who might otherwise quit. We also establish trust and psychological safety by showing employees that we want to give them what they need. And we demonstrate to the entire company that we value work-life balance.

Rather than complain that parents aren’t pulling their weight, nonparents should tell their employers what they need, and give their companies a chance to come through for them as well.

Ryan Bonnici
Chicago
The writer is the chief marketing officer at G2.com, a tech marketplace.

To the Editor:

I think it’s wonderful that the tech companies have decided to use their comfortable profit margins to provide more benefits for their workers, including time off for parents to care for and educate their children during the pandemic. All of us benefit when children are properly looked after.

At the same time, it’s understandable that workers who are not parents resent having to cover for their absent colleagues. But there’s an easy solution. The tech companies can use some of their comfortable profit margins to hire more workers to pick up the slack.

They can afford it, and it would help the economy, too.

Bonnie Steinbock
Oakland, Calif.

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