Extraordinary Benefits That are Keeping Women in the Workforce
April 8, 2015
While some working women may be “leaning in,” more are actually tapping out.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of women at work has been steadily declining, hitting an all-time low of 56.7% this past September. Coincidentally, the Pew Research Center saw that stay-at-home moms rose to 29% in 2012, up from a modern-era low of 23% in 1999.
Some of the biggest reasons women are quitting their careers?
Short maternity leaves, costly childcare expenses, and inflexible work schedules to accommodate work and family balance. With averages of only 12 weeks of maternity leave and ~$179 per week for infant daycare (even up to $450 per week in the San Francisco/Bay Area), both working moms and stay-at-home moms will agree that the struggle is real.
Companies are introducing employee benefits targeted at female talent
Organizations that are on the forefront of increasing diversity, specifically the number of women in the workplace, are now focusing on offering exceptional family-friendly benefits. While some of these programs and perks may seem unusual, they’re helping female leaders balance the demands of work and a family.
Silicon Valley is focusing on helping build families
Some of the most striking employee benefits coming out of the Bay Area tech bubble are infertility treatment coverage, in addition to surrogacy and adoption benefits. Google, Facebook, and we here at LinkedIn, have all started offering these benefits to employees. LinkedIn also allows new moms to return to work part-time for up to 4-weeks after their maternity leave ends, to help them ease back into work and get comfortable with their new childcare arrangement. We asked our Sr. Director of Global Benefits for her thoughts on why they’ve implemented these programs:
“We recognize that families are formed in many different ways, so our programs help employees navigate the world of parenting and beyond,” says Nina McQueen.
“From surrogacy assistance to paid family care leave, support for parents of children with special needs to back-up elder care, we want to help into make our employee's lives a little easier even better.”
While these programs may be far from traditional, they retain mid-career women, while also attracting the growing millennial talent for the future.
Europe leads the way in women employment rates by offering generous maternity leave
And these unique benefits aren’t just happening in Silicon Valley. According to The New York Times, Europe has one of the top women employment rates, with companies offering subsidized childcare and generous maternal leave policies.
UK-based Vodafone just announced that they’re offering women employees at least 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, with an option to work part-time at 30 hours a week yet still earn their full-time salaries. Sharon Doherty, Global Organisation & People Development Director at Vodafone, crafted these new policies to address the staggering attrition of women after maternity leave.
Law firms strive to empower women to take leadership roles
Only 4% of the top U.S. law firms have female, firm-wide managing partners and companies are working to change that.
For example, Morrison & Foerster (aka MoFo) provides their women lawyers the stepping-stones to leadership paths, in addition to their flexible work options and family-friendly benefit programs. MoFo’s Women's Strategy Committee works closely with firm leadership to ensure that women’s advancement is a strategic priority, while the MoFo Summit for Women In-House Counsel gives the firm’s senior women lawyers an opportunity to spend time with clients to better understand their legal needs.
MoFo also has 13 affinity groups addressing the needs of women lawyers and working parents. “The value of providing lawyers with social and networking opportunities, as well as programming that speaks to their professional interests, should not be underestimated,” explains Anand David, MoFo’s Global Director of Attorney Recruiting. “It’s amazing to see the talent we recruit develop such powerful relationships with one another.” As a result, women now represent 25% of MoFo’s practice group chairs, and 47% of their US partners on the board of directors.
Heathcare organizations are investing in children's education
According to FORTUNE’s list of 10 best companies for women, 7 of the 10 are healthcare systems and/or organizations.
But there are even organizations that are going beyond young family needs. The Mayo Clinic and National Vision both offer their employee’s children education scholarship opportunities, ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 for high school or undergraduate institutions. They demonstrate a vested interest not only in the employee, but also in their family’s success.
These are just some of the jaw-dropping benefits seen in human resources and talent. What others perks and programs do you find compelling? Tweet us at @HireOnLinkedIn.
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