"As a founder and a father, the birth of my son opened my eyes to the fact that the vast majority of America's workers, especially those in manufacturing, don't have access to paid family leave when they have a new child. And for fathers, that gap is even wider."
- Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder of Chobani, LLC (the yogurt company)
The birth of Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya's first child prompted him to take action on parental leave at his company. What Ulukaya has done certainly has not been the mainstream position in the U.S. when it comes to paid parental leave. He has made this benefit available to all of his employees, both hourly and salaried, in an effort to help parents spend more time with their families after a birth, adoption, or foster child placement.
While the impetus behind Ulukaya's decision to offer paid parental leave likely lies behind the recent birth of his own child, so too does he recognize the fact that the U.S. lags behind most other countries. Only three states, according to the Christian Science Monitor (Colorado not among them), require companies to give paid parental leave to employees.
Who is Hamdi Ulukaya?
Hamdi Ulukaya was the 2013 World Entrepreneur of the Year (according to Ernst & Young) and in 2014, President Obama named him to the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship initiative. But before all of this, Ulukaya first ran a small cheese factory, before taking the plunge into yogurt with the purchase of a run-down, shuttered yogurt factory. Ulukaya's Greek-style yogurt, popularized under the Chobani brand name, has made him one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the U.S.
Why did the Chobani CEO offer paid parental leave to all employees?
Much of Chobani's success depends on its manufacturing processes, including the people who work on the factory floor. Most of those employees are paid by the hour. As Ulukaya explains, hourly employees rarely get paid parental leave in the U.S.
In a recent blog post, Ulukaya wrote, "It was important to me that everyone at the company have this time - especially the people in our plants. From the top down, we'll encourage our folks to use this time knowing their careers at this company won't be affected by it."
Not every company is as large or as successful as Chobani has been, which certainly opens up the possibilities for different types of employee benefits, but nonetheless, Ulukaya's approach to taking care of his employees seems like good business.