Blogs & Comment

Winners & Losers: Netflix pleases parents, SeaWorld gets beached

 Netflix Inc.

Bawler move

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

Employees at Netflix are now permitted to take up to one year of paid parental leave when they have children or adopt, the company announced this week. “That’s nice,” you might say if you’re a Canadian kicking back and enjoying your 15-to-52 weeks on leave while receiving at least some income. But America—the greatest country in the world according to Americans—does not mandate paid maternity leave because requiring companies to offer support to new mothers and fathers would undoubtedly turn America (pronounced “Amurrica”) into a weak-kneed nanny state like Europe. In this context, Netflix’s policy is quite progressive. Employees can return to work part-time, full-time, or go back and forth as needed, the company wrote in a blog post. Shortly after the post went up, Microsoft announced expanded benefits for its employees, too. New mothers can take 12 weeks of maternity leave at full pay, whereas they were previously eligible for only 4 weeks. Experts don’t think Netflix’s policy will inspire a maternity leave revolution in America, however. The change at Netflix seems to be designed to attract and retain talented people in a competitive labour market, and is not necessarily a gesture of goodwill. While tech workers at headquarters can take advantage of the new policy, employees in the company’s DVD-by-mail division, many of whom are hourly and work in warehouses, are not eligible. Come to think of it, the crass self-interest behind Netflix’s parental leave policy makes it pretty American after all.

 SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.

Something fishy

Seaworld orca

Second quarter earnings at SeaWorld crashed as hard as a captive orca whale into the waters of its gloomy concrete pen. The Florida-based company, which also operates theme parks under the Busch Gardens name, saw its profits collapse by 84% in the second quarter, traditionally one of its strongest. SeaWorld blamed poor attendance in Texas and California for its recent woes. In Texas, it was not a sense of guilt over paying money to watch majestic orca whales prevented from swimming freely at sea because they’re forced to perform tricks in comparatively small enclosures at the behest of misguided trainers who could very well be maimed when SeaWorld’s whales are eventually driven insane by the hopelessness of their situation that kept audiences away earlier this year. It was rain. In California, it’s a different story. The company cited ongoing “brand challenges” stemming from the release of Blackfish in 2013, a documentary that alleges SeaWorld treats its killer whales inhumanely. In December, the company had to announce 300 job cuts as a result of poor financial results. Even SeaWorld devotees are feeling slighted by all of the controversy. “Sea World is great and all but ever since idiots like PETA got involved they never make the animals do any cool tricks,” wrote one online reviewer recently. SeaWorld has vigorously defended itself against allegations from animal rights groups and says it’s worked to improve its facilities. SeaWorld also announced plans to build two new roller-coasters in 2016 so visitors don’t have time to think too hard about any of this stuff.