Just to put things into perspective before we dive into this post, the United States is the ONLY industrialized nation in the world not to have any form of paid maternity (or paternity) leave. Yep, God Bless America indeed!
We were having a discussion in our office about pay inequality and paid maternity leave and we believe that if women had an incentive to have a career and be able to have a family as well, then a company wouldn’t need to be biased when it comes to hiring one certain gender over another and investing more money in those who don’t feel forced to have to choose between having a family and pursuing a career.
It seems we are not the only group of people who feel the same way. We know many of you reading this also do, and we ALSO recognize that those who are against paid maternity leave have probably not been given enough info as to why it is a very beneficial thing to not only an individual, but a company, and in turn communities and families.
It’s easy to listen to the blaringly loud politically-fueled propoganda that is spouted on certain news networks, but it is worth taking a look at some basic facts in order to form a better opinion about this heated issue.
Youtube CEO Susan Wojcicki wrote an op-ed article for the Wall Street Journal about paid maternity leave, and she is probably one of the more better-placed people to comment in depth about this. Unless you have an account with the WSJ, the article is blocked, so we’ve gone ahead and laid out the most important parts for you here. You’re welcome!
To start off she talks about how she was the first Google employee to ever take maternity leave. She was also one of the tech giant’s first employees, as creators Larry Page and Sergey Brin actually created Google while they were renting out Susan’s garage back in the heydays.
Her main argument is that offering maternity leave has great effects in the long run, for everyone involved.
“That last point is one we’ve seen at Google. When we increased paid maternity leave to 18 from 12 weeks in 2007, the rate at which new moms left Google fell by 50%. (We also increased paternity leave to 12 weeks from seven, as we know that also has a positive effect on families and our business.) Mothers were able to take the time they needed to bond with their babies and return to their jobs feeling confident and ready. And it’s much better for Google’s bottom line—to avoid costly turnover, and to retain the valued expertise, skills and perspective of our employees who are mothers,” she writes.
“Best of all, mothers come back to the workforce with new insights. I know from experience that being a mother gave me a broader sense of purpose, more compassion and a better ability to prioritize and get things done efficiently.”
At the time of writing the piece in December 2014, Susan was getting ready to go on maternity leave again to have her fifth child. Yep, count it, five!
She makes the case that the US should follow the lead of every other country in the developed world and offer new mothers paid maternity-leave benefits, funded by social-security programs, as a matter of law.
“Support for motherhood shouldn’t be a matter of luck; it should be a matter of course. Paid maternity leave is good for mothers, families and business. America should have the good sense to join nearly every other country in providing it.”
She may work for a great company that offers amazing benefits, but other women may not be so lucky, which is why Susan and many other people believe a law needs to be implemented to even out the score a little.
“A quarter of all women in the U.S. return to work fewer than 10 days after giving birth, leaving them less time to bond with their children, making breast-feeding more difficult and increasing their risk of postpartum depression,” she writes.
She also cited a paper from the California-based Center for Economic and Policy Research that found that 91% of business said that California’s paid leave policy had a positive effect on profitability.
With many silicon valley tech companies making a huge push to increase diversity amongst their ranks, it is imperative they reevaluate their leave policies in order to encourage more women to stay in the workplace. It’s not just up to tech companies to take the lead, every company needs to understand it is a cyclical system where every person has to play their part, right from the top of the food chain to the everyday foot soldiers and employees.
Here’s hoping this great nation will soon wake up to the economic benefits of offering paid maternity and paternity leave.