Seleni Focuses on Paid Family Leave at Concordia Summit 2016

Media and business leaders call for strengthening families and the economy

October 5, 2016

The Concordia Summit 2016 took place on September 19-20 in New York City, convening nearly 2,400 prominent members of the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to discuss solutions to urgent global issues. Nitzia Logothetis, Seleni Institute founder and interim CEO, gave a speech on the opening day of the conference highlighting the need for better paid parental leave policies in the United States. "We need to create a new reality for parents in the workplace regardless of their financial status," said Logothetis. "It's time for a humane paradigm shift in America."

After her remarks, Logothetis introduced Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of New America, who emphasized that paid family leave benefits everyone—including businesses—and is completely attainable from a policy point of view. "Right now, the lack of provisions and policies to allow parents to care for their children is driving women out of the workforce," said Slaughter. "We need all that talent, and it is perfectly possible for us to get to a place like [almost] every other country on earth to have paid maternity leave, but we can leapfrog all those other countries and go straight to paid parental leave.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand echoed Ms. Slaughter's sentiments and said that paid family and medical leave is one of her top priorities in the Senate. Without it, says Gillibrand, we are left with a serious economic burden for families and the economy as well as lower morale, productivity, and efficiency in the workplace.

After these inspiring speeches, Seleni convened the panel, Good for Families, Good for Business: Reforming Parental Leave Policy in America. Moderated by CNN correspondent Kelly Wallace, the panel featured Heather Jassy, SVP of Values Aligned Business at Etsy; Laura Fuentes, SVP at Hilton Worldwide; Jeffrey Glueck, CEO of Foursquare; and U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice.

During the passionate discussion, Jeffrey Glueck emphasized how benefits packages that include paid parental leave not only increase morale within the company but also attract and retain the top talent required in the technology industry. Other panel experts agreed.

Hear the full speeches and the panel discussion.

Following the panel discussion, Eunice Liriano, marketing and development director at the Seleni Institute, led a roundtable discussion and posed the question of how the language used to describe paid parental leave frames the discussion around it. The small group explored topics such as the workplace stigma of taking parental leave (especially for fathers), the differences in international paid leave policies, and the role that workplace culture plays in implementing paid parental leave policies.

Annika Stën Parson, Seleni's clinical chief executive officer, stressed the importance of management leading by example and utilizing leave policies themselves to eliminate the stigma of taking leave.

At a gala dinner on Tuesday evening, the Concordia Leadership Awards were awarded to Muhammad Yunus, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Grameen Bank; Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever; and Gloria Malone, creator of Teen Mom NYC. Gloria Malone received the award in partnership with the Seleni Institute, where she has been a major contributor to the Seleni Institute's Teen Initiative.

At the conclusion of the Summit, Nicholas Logothetis, Concordia's cofounder and board chair, offered this call to arms: "We are invigorated by the two days of insightful conversations held here at Concordia. But we are more excited to start taking action tomorrow." We hope you will join Seleni and all of these inspirational leaders in making paid family leave a top policy priority.

Follow the discussion on social media using #Concordia16.

Heather Jassy, Laura Fuentes, Jeff Glueck, Kathleen Rice, and Kelly Wallace discuss paid leave at the 2016 Concordia Summit.   Photo by Ben Hider/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

Heather Jassy, Laura Fuentes, Jeff Glueck, Kathleen Rice, and Kelly Wallace discuss paid leave at the 2016 Concordia Summit. 
Photo by Ben Hider/Getty Images for Concordia Summit