A New Parenting Policy Brings Marissa Mayer's Yahoo Closer To Silicon Valley Culture

Following her controversial ban on telecommuting, Yahoo's Marissa Mayer has doubled paid leave for new moms and dads. Here's how Yahoo stacks up against some of Silicon Valley's gold standards for new parents.

Over the past few months, Marissa Mayer has unintentionally positioned herself at the forefront of the conversation around work, life, and the ever-elusive balance between the two. After taking heat in February for her decision to revoke Yahoo's telecommuting policy, the CEO and mother has just added a new perk for expecting parents on her staff: She's doubled paid leave for both new moms and dads, to 16 and eight weeks, respectively.

Mayer, who herself notably took just two weeks of maternity leave before returning to Yahoo, is also giving new parents $500 to spend on items such as groceries and babysitters, NBC reports.

How does Yahoo's new policy stack up to the company's competitors and neighbors in tech? We took a look at maternity and paternity policies at a few of them:

Facebook - The social network's generous policy grants new mothers and fathers four months of paid leave, so long as they're full-time employees. Facebook also covers adoption costs, and parents bank $4,000 in "baby cash."

Google - Mayer's former employer, whose employee happiness efforts are the stuff of Silicon Valley lore, offers moms five months of paid leave, and dads can take seven weeks. Expecting moms also enjoy $500 in baby cash, as well as preferred parking spots (In her book, Lean In, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recounts the conversation she had with then-bosses, Google's Sergey Brin and Larry Page, that led to this policy.)

Microsoft - New moms can get 10 paid weeks off. Microsoft also offers up to $5,000 for adoption costs, as well as up to 20% off child care services for young children at various nationwide providers.

HP - Moms get six weeks of paid leave, while dads get just 10 days of comped time off.

But even Google can't stack up to the global norm for new parents working in advanced economies: The United States remains the only country without any sort of mandatory, paid leave for new mothers. The Family and Medical Leave Act covers 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave, and even that's only if you're "eligible"—a term that houses a whole set of criteria including time worked at the company and the company's size.

If Mayer's goal in enforcing her new-parent policy is to retain critical talent and keep up employee morale, will it work? The jury will be out for at least a few months. But a fascinating anecdote from Mayer's former employer, Google, points to potentially promising results: When Google discovered its attrition rate was twice as high for postpartum female employees, it bumped its former three-month-partial-pay maternity leave policy to its current five-month-full-pay one. The result: Postpartum attrition dropped by 50%.

[Image: Flickr user Breibeest]

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3 Comments

  • AllisonOKelly

    This strategic move offers an incentive for working parents and employees who are on the cusp of this next stage in their lives. But it also does more – it makes Yahoo more competitive with its tech counterparts in Silicon Valley and increases retention among valuable talent. Will it work? Maybe. Nonetheless, the company made a smart decision as there is no denying that becoming a parent is a significant life change, and companies that are helping ease that transition will benefit from the loyalty that brings from employees.  -Allison O'Kelly, Founder/CEO of Mom Corps

  • Laura A Fischer

    Ooops! Posted too soon. Coming from Canada, anything less than a year sounds way less than 'generous' to me.