Amidst all the excitement and nervousness that comes with being pregnant, many moms-to-be are already looking anxiously at their post-birth time with baby and wondering about how long they will have for maternity leave as well as how their workplace responds to new parents once they start punching the clock again. Surprisingly, and despite all the grand public announcements about parental leave that have been popping up every few weeks at prominent companies in the U.S., plenty of businesses are opaque about their parental leave plans, creating uncomfortable situations for both new job seekers and longtime employees. Fairygodboss.com is a website that attempts to make maternity leave policies more transparent and, perhaps more tellingly, allows employees to anonymously share their own experiences at the company with regard to their leave and being back at work as a new parent.
Dubbed the “Yelp of maternity leave,” Fairygodboss was started by two women, one of whom found herself job searching while two months pregnant and feeling frustrated about how to broach the topic of parental leave. In addition to providing a forum to discuss and dissect parental leave and back-to-work policies, Fairygodboss researches how (if at all) parenting factors in to workforce decisions. A recent survey questioned women regarding their knowledge about maternity leave. 64% of women didn’t ask about the company’s policy during the interview process, and 80% responded that they didn’t know what the policy was when they began working at their company. For many of these women, ignorance was not bliss: 35% admitted that they were disappointed once they did learn the company’s policy. As for back-to-work experiences, 47% said lactation facilities were inadequate with 24% reporting that employers did not allow them time in their schedule to pump. Now that these issues are more visible and new parents can share their experiences, companies should hopefully respond appropriately (even if their motivation is simply to keep up with the policies at other companies). Fairygodboss also provides a clearinghouse for maternity leave resources, compensation data, and even basic FMLA info. The website is also beginning to track paternity leave as well.
Another recent survey by Fairygodboss ranked companies where women are the happiest. Among the top 10 were Apple, Google, Bloomberg, and Microsoft, all companies which have expanded their parental leave programs in the past year. We’re pretty sure that’s not a coincidence. Valuing work-life balance, family, and parents’ contributions both in the workforce and at home often translate into other policies that support women and promote workplace equality. Companies that care about their own employees and retaining them would do well to follow their examples.