Here is the (slightly edit) letter I sent to our Chairman and Senior Partner when I arrived back at work on Monday:
For nearly four years I have been an employee at this firm. My time has been both challenging and rewarding so far, and I look forward to contributing for many years in the future. A few months ago, I experienced a new challenge; something that was much different than the professional responsibilities my education and training prepared me for. Early that particular morning, my wife and I welcomed our first child, Ashleigh. Of course, her mother and I brag that she was, and is, perfect.
For the last six weeks, I have had the incredible opportunity to get up each morning, walk into my daughter’s room, and be the first person she sees. Every day, I was the one to provide for her. I would feed her a bottle, dress her, and then bring her downstairs to lay on her playmat, read her a book, and talk to her while I make myself breakfast. We have had the freedom each day to jump in the car and explore a new place or activity. I have been able to learn what makes her happy, what makes her upset, how to help her fall asleep, and even how to make her smile.
I have been able to do all of this because of the benefits I have as an employee of this firm.
Our paternal leave is incredibly generous. To allow both mothers and fathers the opportunity to take six weeks off is an invaluable gift. It is a gift that has forever impacted my entire family. For Ashleigh, not only did it mean she would get to interact with her dad each day, it meant that she would have an additional six weeks to develop at home before heading to full time daycare. As my wife went back to work full time after her leave, she had peace of mind that someone she trusted was attending to her daughter’s needs during her earliest days of development. For me, it meant that I would get to play an active role in my daughter’s first months on this earth.
When I describe this opportunity to most people, they simply don’t believe it. For a company to pay a father to stay home with his child for six weeks goes beyond societal norms. Just look at my wife’s own company. She was given six weeks for short-term disability and then had to return to work. As I mentioned, for Ashleigh, my paternity leave meant an additional six weeks at home for her. The flexibility that our paternal leave has to allow the time off at any point in the child’s first year just shows how much the company and its leaders truly values its employees and their families.
Thank you to you, and the entire US Leadership Team, for allowing me to have this time with my daughter.