People have made a lot of strange — some might even say mind-numbingly stupid— predictions about what will happen as millennials “grow up.”

From the rise of “unique flavors” like Pizza Hut’s Cock-a-Doodle Bacon pizza that appeal to millennials’ “restless palate syndrome” to a leadership crisis of apocalyptic proportions, everyone is certain that millennials are going to really shake things up.

But as revolutionary as our palettes and personalities may be, I’d venture to predict that the most significant changes we millennials usher in are those that are very much a part of the American conversation and psyche already.

An overflow crowd of mothers and children listen to testimony outside hearing room at Hawaii Capitol. 2.10.14  ©PF Bentley/Civil Beat

An overflow crowd of mothers and children listen to testimony outside a hearing room at the Hawaii Capitol. Renewed support for working mothers will be a legacy of the millennial generation.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

These are the changes that mainstream America already recognizes as good, sound policy, but that have been held in a sort of political purgatory for years thanks to the perception that Americans still aren’t ready for them — changes that, in retrospect, will seem obvious and overdue, like women’s suffrage or civil rights.

Gay marriage and marijuana legalization, for instance, seemed preposterous to my mother’s generation, but the once staunch arguments against these policies ring hollow now, especially to younger ears.

As the millennial generation continues to grow up — right now, millennials are roughly 20 to 35 years old — I’d argue that one of our most significant contributions will be to reinvent family-friendly workplace policies such as paid maternity leave, universal preschool and paid sick days.

This change has been a long time coming.

In the 1960s, the vast majority of women with children stayed home. Today, women make up nearly half the labor force and more than 70 percent of all mothers work outside the home. What’s more, women are the primary or sole breadwinner in 40 percent of households with children.

While trailblazers in my mother’s generation paved the way in spite of unfriendly and even hostile workplace practices, working mothers stuck in Generation X sweated it out largely because they didn’t have a critical mass to demand systemic changes.

As millennials like myself start families, however, we’re practically guaranteed to see a shift.

Thanks to the sheer number of us — by 2020, millennials will constitute half of the total workforce; by 2030, we’ll be 75 percent — America can no longer afford to pass the buck on this issue.

America is the only developed country without paid maternity leave, and as The Huffington Post pointed out, “the last time Congress passed a major piece of legislation with the sole purpose of helping workers balance work and family was in 1993 when the Democratic-controlled House and Senate passed the Family and Medical Leave Act.”

It has been more than 20 years since America did something (anything!) to help working families, and — as my Facebook feed shows one pregnancy announcement after another — the time is feeling quite ripe.

The writing, after all, is already on the wall.

President Obama has launched a White House Summit on Working Families; Congress has taken some largely symbolic, but still promising steps to guarantee paid sick days; and three states (California, Rhode Island and New Jersey) have instituted paid family leave on their own accord using a payroll tax. (Hawaii offers some paid maternity leave through Temporary Disability Insurance, which covers a portion of a woman’s wages for the time she takes off after giving birth.)

Businesses are beginning to come around too, especially among Silicon Valley companies, which are the millennial mecca of work environments and corporate cultures.

Hot companies like Facebook, Google, Instagram and Twitter all offer a minimum of 17 weeks of paid maternity leave, plus at least 10 weeks of paid paternity leave. As Google spokeswoman Roya Soleimani says, the generous policy change not only seemed “like the right thing to do,” it also benefited the company.

“After our policy change,” Soleimani told The Atlantic, “we also found that returning moms left at half the rate they were leaving at previously.”

The state of California, which provides six weeks of fully paid leave, has also seen remarkable success, especially among lower socioeconomic groups. Turnover is down, the vast majority of business owners have reported either no or positive impact on their businesses, new mothers are breastfeeding twice as long (providing important health and developmental benefits), and fathers are more likely to take paternity leave, which is an obvious boon to the whole family.

A 2013 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the University of Southern California and the London Business School stresses that work-life balance is a top priority for millennial workers. As more and more millennial mothers and fathers enter the workforce, the pressure to change both legislative policies and corporate cultures will likely reach a boiling point — and it will be for everyone’s benefit.

Millennials didn’t create this issue nor were we the first to champion it, but thanks to the sheer number of us, we’ll likely be the ones to change it.

In other words, we’ll have our Cock-a-Doodle Bacon pizza and eat it too.

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