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

Employers Must Offer Equal “Parental” Leave

Today, the EEOC (i.e. the federal agency charged with enforcing laws against workforce discrimination) released new guidance regarding pregnancy discrimination.  The last time they did this was 1983.  These new guidelines were presumably released because the number of EEOC charges alleging pregnancy discrimination have increased substantially in the past several years (37% between 1997 and 2013).

Most of the guidance was not very earth-shattering but there was one area that struck me:  the EEOC states that employers who offer “parental leave” (as distinct from “medical leave”) must offer that leave to men and women equally.  In other words, if an employer offers an employee leave (paid or unpaid) for medical recovery, birth and recuperation, that can be offered to the birthing parent (aka a woman) in whatever quantity the employer wishes.  But if additional leave is offered for child-care or bonding, it should be distinctly designated as “parental” leave, and must be offered on the same terms to women and men.  (The full text is here so scroll down to see Examples 17 and 18).

What’s exciting and interesting about this is that I don’t believe most companies’ maternity leave policy specifically designates a time for medical recovery versus childcare/bonding.  If companies start complying with the EEOC guidance and offer equal leave to the non-birth parent, then 1 of 2 things may happen:

1.  The non-birthing parent may receive more leave than the company policy previously provided (i.e. good news for those of us who believe partner/paternity leave is important and has been sidelined).

2.  The birthing parent may receive less leave than the company presently offers (i.e. bad news for those of us who think most companies are not particularly generous with maternity leave in the first place).  This could happen because the employer starts worrying that equal parental leave rights means too many employees will start actually taking it and reduces the total leave available.  Similarly, a company that previously was considering offering maternity leave may decide to offer either zero or reduced leave because they’re worried about the costs of offering leave on the same term to mothers and fathers.

I hope that most companies don’t reduce maternity leave (its a hard message for HR to deliver, after all) and excited that this new guidance recognizes the importance of treating both male and female parents equally!  I’ll keep watching this space…

 

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