working women

12 Fairygodboss Employer Moments in 2015

As we look back on 2015, we wanted to celebrate the good work that employers have done to help support women in the workplace. These #fairygodboss employers really impressed us!

pabloLyftFast Company

  1. In January, Lyft makes 2 new senior-level female hires which makes its executive team ~50/50 balanced in terms of gender. The company also implements a 3-month paid maternity leave policy.pabloSF
    Bloomberg 
  2. In April, led by CEO, Marc Benioff, Salesforce announces a compensation audit to make sure men and women at the company are paid equally and fairly for their work. This results in a $3 million adjustment to female employees over the year.pablointel
    Mercury News 
  3. In June, Intel launches $125 million fund to invest in businesses led by women and underrepresented minorities.pabloGOOG
  4. By July, Google and other tech companies following its example saw the one year anniversary of an initiative to release employee  diversity data. While the industry revealed modest progress in 2015, many pledged to try harder and we are encouraged by these companies’ continued commitment to transparency.pabloNetflix
    Washington Post 
  5. In August, Netflix announces an unlimited parental leave policy for full-time salaried employees, and later extends paid maternity leave to its hourly employees.pabloAdobe
    Fortune 
  6. Adobe doubles its paid maternity leave to 26 weeks and increases paternity and adoptive leave to 16 weeks in August.pabloMSFT
    Business Insider 
  7. In the same month, Microsoft extends parental leave policies so new moms can take a total of 20 weeks of paid time off.WSJ
    WSJ 
  8. In September, everyone talks about McKinsey’s study of what ~30,000 employees at 118 companies say about the state of gender equality in the workforce. There findings are sobering, but what isn’t measured is unlikely to change.pabloHilton
    Washington Post 
  9. In the same month, Hilton Worldwide announces industry-leading maternity leave benefits for the hospitality industry. Employees at corporate offices and managed hotels with a minimum of 1 year of service will receive 10 weeks of fully paid leave.pabloGates
    Business Insider 
  10. In October, the Gates Foundation expended its paid parental and maternity leave to one full year of leave for new and adoptive parents.pabloTrudeua
    Time 
  11. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau names the country’s first 50/50 gender-balanced cabinet because “its 2015″ in November.pabloaccenture
    Huffington Post 
  12. Accenture amplifies the discussion of gender equality in partnership with the Huffington Post with stories from 130,000 of its women to highlight challenges, inspire others, and provide advice  to others.We believe stories and voices matter at Fairygodboss, and we hope to keep hearing from employers and women in 2016!

    Fairygodboss is committed to helping women in the workplace. 

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working women

Our Maternity Leave Database is Here!

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We’re excited to announce that we launched our Maternity Leave Resource Center this week. Check it out here!

To our knowledge, it’s the first time you can search, filter and compare companies by whether they pay maternity leave benefits (and for how long). At launch, there were close to 600 companies in the database, across all different industries.

Thanks to the women of Fairygodboss who’ve shared thousands of reviews and tips in order to make this a reality! The database has tremendous momentum and we expect it to grow and evolve based on your feedback. The complexity of maternity leave policies can be difficult to whittle down to a couple stark numbers, but simplicity has great value.

To supplement the information in our database, our members often expand on the specifics within their reviews, including: tenure requirements, the overlap with FMLA and state laws, short-term disability policies (and whether they have to pay into them and receive 100% salary coverage), and whether they are stigmatized or supported during their leave.

Within the reviews that discuss pregnancy and maternity leave experiences, there are both heart-warming and heart-breaking stories — showing both great progress and also large areas for improvement. Let’s keep on sharing and discussing to improve gender equality in the workplace.
For more information on our database, you can read some reactions in the press: http://for.tn/1XhAtiz and http://bit.ly/1GT1Xlc

Fairygodboss is committed to helping women in the workplace. Join us by signing up at Fairygodboss.com 

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working women

Why We Hate Writing about Marissa Mayer’s Pregnancy

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty

Its the last week of summer and many Americans — including us — are enjoying a bit of a holiday.

While we’re abroad, we are watching the foreign press cover the latest news about Yahoo’s CEO as if it’s simultaneously a business issue, social issue, and celebrity gossip piece all wrapped up in one package. Earlier this week, she announced:

Since my pregnancy has been healthy and uncomplicated and since this is a unique time in Yahoo’s transformation, I plan to approach the pregnancy and delivery as I did with my son three years ago, taking limited time away and working throughout.

When it comes to Mayer’s pregnancy, people are mainly talking about 4 things:

  1. Whether she should or shouldn’t be taking a longer maternity leave since she is a role model for other working women
  2. Whether other women should compare themselves to her
  3. Whether we should be judging or discussing her choices at all, since we might not do the same for a male CEO who is expecting children
  4. Whether it matters in terms of her performance as CEO

In other words, pretty much everything you can imagine that could be said about this topic has probably been said. Which is one of the reasons we dislike writing about her pregnancy. We also hate writing about it because we want to simply tell Mayer “Congratulations,” and leave it at that. After all, that’s the normal and proper thing to say to anyone who’s just announced news of twins.

But Mayer is not just anyone. She’s a public figure, one of the highest paid CEO’s in America, and one of the youngest and only female CEOs in the technology industry. Like it or not, her personal life is in the spotlight because she is a more glamourous subject than the millions of other women in America who have little choice but to take a couple weeks of maternity leave after they give birth. We can only assume she has made a self-actualized and well-informed decision, realizes the attention is a casualty of her position, and takes all the corresponding criticism in stride.

In the end, we decided to write about her pregnancy because it gives us an opportunity to say that we believe many women — and also men — experience biases and social pressures that make things very hard to be a whole person at work. Being a whole person means different things to different people, but pregnancy is special example simply because its physically impossible to hide, and affects so many people in the workforce.

Even in this day and age, women continue to experience discrimination because they are pregnant, and also subsequently when they become mothers. This is often despite the best intentions of companies and colleagues. These problems are persistent because they are rooted in biases (conscious or not) and cultural ideas of what it means to be an “ideal worker” and truly committed to our work.

However, that doesn’t mean progress can’t be made. We started Fairygodboss because we believe many companies and organizations don’t look closely enough at gender equality in their culture. Transparency is an important step in creating change – and Mayer has been nothing if not transparent. She has shared her own choices very openly (i.e. a short maternity leave and her on-site personal nursery) and announced big changes to Yahoo’s policies (i.e. expanded paid parental leave and restrictions on working-from-home). Whatever you may think of her personal and professional choices, at least we’re talking about things that matter to a great number of working women — and that in many cases, really should change.

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace for women by creating transparency. Join us by signing up at Fairygodboss.com and reviewing your employer.

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working women

Why Netflix Should Ignore the “Haters” (of their Unlimited Parental Leave Policy)

Photo credit: stobor / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: stobor / Foter / CC BY-SA

Last week, Netflix announced a ground-breaking unlimited, paid maternity and paternity leave policy for most of their employees. We love sharing information about company policies that impact working women so we immediately started sharing the news on social media. We assumed most people would be happy for Netflix employees and the worst emotion coming out of the announcement would be jealousy.

What happened next surprised us: people started criticizing Netflix’s policy. Suddenly we were reading headlines like “Why Netflix’s New Parental-Leave Policy Could Make Things Worse for Women” and “Why Netflix’s ‘unlimited’ Maternity Leave Policy Won’t Work“. Then there were those who were rightly upset that certain Netflix employees would be left out. NPR reported that certain employees in its DVD division and call centers would not be covered in “Netflix Still Facing Questions Over Its New Parental Leave Policy.”

We think Netflix should get another round of applause.

As the saying goes: “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Is Netflix’s policy “perfect”? Almost certainly, no. It only covers some of its employees. It could have been even more generous by explicitly giving 1 year of paid leave instead of leaving it up to employee discretion. They could have required that employees (or managers) take some minimum amount of maternity leave so others wouldn’t feel pressured to copy workaholic examples around them. It could have created a policy that would be easier for other companies to emulate / copy. It could have created world peace and erased all workplace gender biases. (Ok, we’re being sarcastic now).

Our point is this: Netflix is trying to do better by many of the parents at their company. They have a culture that already gave an unlimited vacation policy, which presumably was working for them despite the ambiguity. And they are trying to treat men and women equally in giving equal parental leave and not making assumptions about which gender will take on more child-rearing responsibilities at home.

So could their policy have been better, clearer, more inclusive?  Probably, yes. But should they mostly ignore all the hand-wringing and concern? Absolutely.

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace for women and crowd-sourcing maternity leave information as a free resource for all working women. Join us by signing up at Fairygodboss.com.

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working women

Why Companies Don’t Publish Their Maternity Leave Policies

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Nobody has ever been able to adequately explain why company benefits are such a secret.  Why are some companies comfortable posting their entire employee handbook online, while others remain completely mum?  Worse, why do some companies make it so hard for their own employees to find this information?

We’ve talked to Fairygodboss members who work for companies large and small.  And they’ve shared a wide range of stories with us about how they discovered their company’s maternity leave or short-term disability policies (if any).  The story that touched us the most was from a member who worked at a large Fortune 100 company.  All our members are anonymous, so let’s call her Amy at Acme Inc.

Amy is in her late 20’s, and has worked quite happily for a few years at Acme.  She decides to investigate her company’s maternity policy because she’s curious and a bit of a planner.  Amy is not pregnant and she’s not even married, but she recently got engaged.

Amy is confident that Acme offers a great maternity leave package.  After all, Acme publicly states its commitment to a wide range of women’s causes, provides employees with diversity groups, and there are a large number of women in her department.  Amy starts by searching through her company’s intranet portal to find the employee handbook and benefits information.  This isn’t exactly easy or pleasant.  (Trust us if you’ve never personally had the pleasure of exploring corporate intranet portals.  For some reason they appear stuck in the 1990’s and are not places that have seen the touch of UI and UX talent.)

Amy keeps looking and can’t find anything.  So she calls her HR representative and asks where the benefits information is located.  The HR representative tells her to look on the intranet where Amy has already been.  Then the HR rep asks, “What exactly are you looking for?”  Amy hesitates now.  Women all know that asking about maternity leave is akin to “coming out of the closet” (even though Amy isn’t pregnant or even imminently planning to be).  But Amy takes a breath, and tells her.  She figures that even if the HR rep will make certain incorrect assumptions, she’ll at least get a straight answer.

No such luck.  Amy’s HR rep tells her that she must speak to another person in HR who specializes in this area.  Amy is now really confused and intrigued.  She dials the specialist who asks her whether she’s pregnant.  Amy says she isn’t.  And then the specialist says something about disability benefits that Amy doesn’t really understand.  Amy continues to listen until it dawns on her that Acme may not actually offer any paid parental leave.  She hangs up, stunned.

Amy can’t believe that Acme doesn’t offer paid maternity leave.  She wonders if she’s being naiive because she has heard that paid leave is a relatively rare thing.  It just seems at odds with both Acme’s size, profitability, philanthropy and PR.  Amy would better understand if she were a new employee, a part-time employee, a contractor or any other number of things.  She’s not even a particularly junior employee.  Acme is such a huge company with generous benefits and perks in almost every other area.  Is this something that just applies to her or her group?

Amy decides she needs to get the dirt from her colleagues, directly.  Even if that means exposing her personal life and plans (which she really doesn’t want to do).  She first approaches the mothers in her department.  One by one, through these conversations, Amy’s colleagues confirm that Acme doesn’t offer paid maternity leave.  However, they also reveal that they all actually took fully paid time off (which was not offered under the company’s short-term disability policy).  The reason the mothers in Amy’s department were able to do this is that their manager looked the other way and simply didn’t report their post-partum, quarter-long absence.  In other words, Amy’s department made up for the lack of maternity leave benefits by covering for each other.

Amy loves working with her team, and has always felt like her colleagues were a second “family” of sorts.  But this was way beyond what she expected to hear.  And while she loved the fact that the team pitched in for each other, she was shocked that nobody had tried to petition for paid leave, or at least easier access to the disability pay information.  Its never easy to make noise and risk standing out as a trouble-maker, but Amy decided the situation wasn’t acceptable and started to bring the issue up the HR corporate ladder, and to Acme’s women’s group leaders.

We’re not sure how the story ends because Amy is still right in the middle of it.  But most elements of Amy’s story aren’t as rare as you might think.  Many women don’t know their company’s maternity policies until they actually get pregnant. Until then, most large company employees assume the maternity leave will be fair, or at the very least, easy to get straight answers about.  We’ve all seen the press about generous company policies at places like Goldman Sachs and Google but we can’t all work there!  And even companies offering reasonable benefits don’t make it easy to uncover what they actually are without exposing oneself to assumptions or your personal life.

We all know that becoming pregnant is life-changing and fraught with issues for many professional women.  Many women — including myself — have “hidden” their pregnancies for as long as possible, by breaking the news at the last moment because they are team players and know the impact their absence will have.  Working mothers often worry about their reputation and colleagues’ perceptions of their professional commitment in the face of their personal responsibilities. Asking about maternity leave is just the tip of the iceberg.

So please do us a favor.  If you are a manager or work in HR, consider being more transparent about company benefits — even if its just to your own employees.

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maternity leave, working women

Hooray for Boston!

This week, Boston joins 3 other cities and 3 states to offer paid parental leave for government workers.  As you can see from Fairygodboss’ crowdsourced maternity leave database, these cities offer more than even large companies do!

State Parental Leave8 (2)

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working women

Women in Finance Are a Small Pool…Across the Pond

Last weekend, the Financial Times featured an article about women in the “City” (the name for London’s analogue to New York’s Wall Street, which was historically a square mile of London dominated by financial institutions).  A little background here: the UK tends to fall somewhere between the United States and continental Europe in terms of employee benefit policies (i.e. it tends to be more generous than the United States in terms of favorable employee protections such as maternity leave, but less generous than many European countries).  In terms of the challenges women in finance face, however, things in London look a lot like things in New York.

While the gender ratio in the overall staff of City employers is close to 50/50, top management is dominated by men (80%) and women report a macho culture that make it difficult to succeed.  This is despite the companies’ attempts to “have some of the most proactive female employment policies around.”  Unlike the U.S. banks, where to my knowledge there are no targets for female management, several institutions in the U.K. such as Lloyds Bank, the Bank of England and Barclays are cited as having goals for female management numbers (with Barclays making diversity one of 8 factors upon which bonuses are based).  I find it striking that many of the top financial institutions in the U.S. similarly have very strong benefits for maternity leave, childcare, not to mention diversity programs and training.  And yet, these places still purportedly feel very difficult for women both in London and New York.  The reasons cited for the dismal female management numbers are similar to the ones you hear often in the U.S.: grueling hours, the conflicts of motherhood, and the lack of female role models.  Another reason is described in the article by a 30-something year old woman who left a career at Goldman Sachs for private equity.  What she says is interesting because I’ve rarely heard it put this way in print, but find it resonates with what I’ve personally observed:

“Many women in finance didn’t always envision a career in the industry — they were educated or convinced into it…Banks then compound this by actively recruiting female hyper-achievers, who see a job in the industry as a stereotype to beat. They often excel for two to four years, then get slightly bored and want a new challenge.”

In other words, its probably true that certain high-achieving women also have many career options and choose to leave for reasons that are personal.

Ultimately, while the article has no conclusion, it provides a great overview of the state of women in finance, and covers HR benefits, policies and catalogues what certain companies are doing to address issues such as flexible working, maternity/paternity leave, and childcare.  Its a great read in comparative issues, and may even foreshadow certain things to come in the U.S.

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