As the millennial workforce start their own familyand have children, maternity and parental leave has exploded as a point of interest among top job seekers. For tech companies looking to promote gender diversity in the workplace, extensive paid leave has become a key part of the effort to attract top talent. Almost every major name in tech has a maternity leave policy – despite there being no legal requirement in place requiring one is offered- including Netflix, Etsy, and Amazon. Each company offers striking generous paid leave policies.
THESE COMPANIES’ WORKPLACE DIVERSITY PROGRAMS PROVIDE THE BEST MATERNITY LEAVE
The United States remains one of two nations in the world who doesn’t require mandatory maternity leave for mothers. Only four states currently require paid family leave: California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. New York’s maternity leave law takes effect in 2018, and the District of Columbia’s in 2020. This places the U.S. squarely behind the pack in maternal benefits, and it has forced many women who want to become a mother to make a choice: motherhood or a career. But not both.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that only 12% of American workers are offered paid parental leave, and of those offered leave many don’t take advantage of the policy. This is driven by a fear that leaving work will mean losing projects, clients, and status within the company. For women who want to maintain high profile careers, having a child is a liability, and many mothers take only a few weeks off after their child is born before returning to work.
But the tech industry has voluntarily created generous leave policies for its employees, becoming the leading industry for paid family leave. Tech companies havefound the benefits of paid leave outweigh the costs, and they’ve adopted aggressive maternity leave policies to attract top talent and increase diversity in the workplace.
1. NETFLIX’S UNLIMITED LEAVE POLICY
Netflix offers a policy of “unlimited” maternity and paternity leave to its new parents, within the first year after a child’s birth. Should the parents take it, that translates to a 52-week leave policy, by far the most generous family leave policy in an industry where the standard is 20 weeks of leave.
Such a generous policy is aimed at making employees feel comfortable caring for their families without having to worry about job security. Netflix’s Chief Talent Officer explained the decision to offer unlimited leave by saying, “Experience shows people perform better at work when they’re not worrying about home.” So far, no other company has offered a leave policy that comes close.
2. AMAZON, MICROSOFT, & GOOGLE OFFER UP TO 20 WEEKS FOR NEW MOTHERS
Amazon’s leave program is slightly different, with six weeks given to any new parent (including fathers and adoptive parents). On top of the 6 weeks, mothers get an additional four weeks before birth and ten weeks after, equaling 20 weeks of leave. Although they’re structured slightly different, this 20-week leave policy has become a standard for major tech companies. Besides Amazon, Microsoft, and Google offer similar 20-week policies. Now, smaller companies have followed these industry leaders, structuring their leave policies the same way.
Ever since Google released workplace diversity statistics in 2014, it has been under pressure to increase employment of women. The same can be said for Microsoft, Amazon, and other tech companies in an industry known for its low female employment. Five months’ maternity leave has been a key part of the effort to attract and retain top female talent, and it’s now the standard for most companies in the industry.
3. ETSY’S 26 WEEKS FOR MOTHERS AND FATHERS
Etsy’s approach to family leave focuses on mitigating the challenges of long term absence from the workplace. The company has put in place a budget for hiring temporary workers when employees take leave, and staff members undergo cross-training that allows them to pick up the slack should a team member take maternity or paternity leave.
This approach brings the company added security, and employees can enjoy peace of mind while on leave, knowing that there is a process in place to cover their ongoing projects. Six months of parental leave means new mothers can stay with their children through the most important phases of development. Fathers can also take leave, allowing for time together as a family or seamless transition when the mother’s leave ends.
HOW MATERNITY LEAVE DRIVES DIVERSITY IN THE WORKPLACE
Tech companies have found that parental leave is an integral part of any strategy that aims to attract mid-career professionals. These individuals are thinking of starting families and looking to work somewhere that recognizes the importance of family life. Companies that offer flexibility for them to grow their families are winning out over companies that offer higher salaries.