Jessica Shortall: The US needs paid family leave -- for the sake of its future
Jessica Shortall - Strategy consultant, social entrepreneur and author
Jessica Shortall is a working mom of two and author of Work. Pump. Repeat: The New Mom's Survival Guide to Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work. Full bio
this is what you'll be told.
what you'll actually produce
with a baby on your lap.
We'll look at a lot of them.
of every American workplace.
into any Google image search engine,
blog posts and news pieces,
and the lie that they tell us
to new working motherhood in America,
millions of women back to work
and kind of horrifically soon
why it's an economic problem.
with the unreality of these images,
in a parody series of stock photos
of going back to work
is attached to your body.
like leaking breast milk
no baby in this photo,
its contents are aerosolized
that they can find to make food
a whole dozen of them, into the world.
was opening a door,
from all walks of life
for them to go back to work
10 of their stories with you today.
some of them are very raw,
looks anything like this.
service member at a federal prison.
allowed eight weeks for my C-section.
that I had been out on 'vacation,'
while I was pumping breast milk
with inmates in the hallway."
total strangers, send to me now,
to work after seven unpaid weeks.
during labor, and major tearing,
to use my available vacation days
situations like these in the eye
then we have to do something about it.
and believe, this image.
what's going on in this picture,
and slightly creepy.
and all of their babies, are fine.
down into two parts.
that women have chosen to work.
47 percent of the workforce,
or primary breadwinner.
of the engine of this economy,
for the engines of our families.
our paid work is not optional.
are choosing to have babies,
the consequences of those choices.
can sound correct.
when that happened.
ignores a fundamental truth,
on a national scale is not optional.
working women, are having today,
protect our shores,
on a national scale is not optional.
We need working women to have babies.
doing those things at the same time
women in America do you think
will not get one minute of paid leave
It's called FMLA. It does not work.
all kinds of exceptions,
I had to take off work.
to qualify for FMLA,
to meet my newborn son,
hide another reality, another layer.
to just that unpaid leave,
to take much of it at all.
for short-term disability
was considered a preexisting condition.
and half of our savings
but emotionally it was worse.
being away from my son."
to go back to work so early,
driven by family finances,
into the world is messy.
at work five weeks postpartum.
major surgery after giving birth,
working mothers in America
within two weeks of giving birth.
average of 75 hours a week while pregnant.
before my baby was a month old,
to afford 10 days off with her baby."
with economic and physical implications.
an enormous psychological event.
eight weeks after my son was born.
to returning to work were unbearable."
after having a baby,
from postpartum mood disorders
consequences of those disorders,
most common cause of death
but I find it hard to get through.
that I lost an essential,
time with my son.
left me feeling absolutely broken.
is the screaming: colic, they said.
how much longer I could do it.
while I rocked and shushed
so I wouldn't get in trouble.
every damn day
while I washed out the pump equipment.
and all the way home again.
I didn't get done during the day,
wrong with me that I can't swing this."
about the millions of babies
and tax-paying and military-serving age.
is that babies whose mothers
and their well checks in their first year,
from deadly and disabling diseases.
behind images like this.
who work and for their babies.
you should be grateful for it,
runs through a lot of the stories I hear.
after my C-section
had failure to thrive.
was very understanding.
of countries in the world
paid leave to new mothers.
in total population.
Suriname and the tiny island nations
Nauru, Niue, Palau and Tonga.
the United States of America,
of national paid leave work
of the future of those countries,
"We couldn't possibly do that."
will solve this problem,
offer even more paid leave to the women
and highest-paid among us.
are not going to participate in that.
economic, financial, physical
decided, not an accident,
on to working mothers and their babies.
for low-income women,
for women of color.
so-called choices to have babies
not to have babies.
It shouldn't be traumatic.
our family now,
to care for myself and a new baby.
the same way as with our first,
to keep the population stable
working women from doing that.
to innovation, to GDP,
of this country were to decide
to do this thing more than once?
one idea worth spreading,
for the most powerful country on Earth
of the future of this country
who represent that future.
for small businesses,
to be shared between partners.
should have to go back to work
to drain their savings account
of rest and recovery and bonding.
from the incubator to day care
all of their meager time
should be told that the collision
and their needed parenthood,
to a new family, it is consuming,
is more financially vulnerable
to speak up on her own behalf.
as a mother's issue,
that these images tell us.
why we're told that this can't work
everywhere all over the world.
that this American reality
what a working mother looks like.
About the speaker:Jessica Shortall - Strategy consultant, social entrepreneur and author
Jessica Shortall is a working mom of two and author of Work. Pump. Repeat: The New Mom's Survival Guide to Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work.
Why you should listen
What do breastfeeding and paid leave for working mothers, sustainable eye care, hunger, green investing, giving shoes and the business case for LGBT equality have in common?
For Jessica Shortall, they have all been opportunities to change the world: challenges that need sustainable solutions and require a deep understanding of market forces, audiences, and cultures. They all require an intense dive into data, and they all benefit from powerful storytelling.
Shortall has provided strategy consulting to dozens of businesses, social enterprises, non-profit organizations and campaigns in the US, UK and beyond. Her first book, Work. Pump. Repeat: The New Mom's Guide to Surviving Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work, was inspired by her own experiences of circumnavigating the globe with a breast pump. She interviewed hundreds of working mothers and dozens of HR professionals to create a practical, relatable, judgment-free guide for women who want to try to continue breastfeeding after they've returned to work.
Shortall started her adult life as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan, and she haven't stopped searching for ways to change the world since, across non-profit and for-profit worlds. In the early 2000s, she co-founded and franchised a non-profit organization that is now active in more than 40 communities. In 2006, she received an MBA with honors from the University of Oxford, as a Skoll Scholar in Social Entrepreneurship. She went on to spend three years providing consulting services to social entrepreneurs. From 2009 to 2014, she was the first Director of Giving at TOMS Shoes, hired to build out the now-iconic One for One giving mission and strategy.
She currently lives in Dallas, TX with her husband Clay and her two children.
Jessica Shortall | Speaker | TED.com