It’s tough to be a working mom in 2017. According to the most recent reporting from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of women with children under the age of 18 participate in the labor force, yet only 12% of private sector workers have access to paid maternity leave. Women are paid, on average, 21% less than men for doing the same work. Add in the general challenges, logistics, and guilt that often come with balancing the needs of family and work, and the picture isn’t pretty.
Nor does it seem likely to improve under a Trump administration. The incoming president’s top priorities are national security, immigration, and energy, not working parents. And when House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called Trump to discuss women's issues, he reportedly handed the phone to his daughter Ivanka, who holds no official position. So in the years ahead, it'll likely fall to the private sector to put the best policies and programs in place.
According to the data gathered by my organization, the employer review platform InHerSight, covering over 100,000 women employees, satisfaction with telecommuting and maternity leave policies are strong predictors of moms' overall satisfaction at work. We also discovered that the top benefit all women are looking for from their employers is a generous paid-time-off policy.
A number of companies in our database are progressive in their support for working moms. Here's how three of them are earning such high scores from their employees on paid parental leave.
Global accounting firm EY gets very good scores from InHerSight users for its maternity leave policies (4.1/5), paid time off (4.0/5), and overall support of employees with growing families (4.0/5), putting EY in the top tier of the 20,000 companies rated on the site.
One standout policy is EY's career and family coaching program for new parents. Each participant is assigned a coach who helps them through all aspects of having a child, from how to hand off work responsibilities and notify clients, to navigating benefits and paperwork, to creating plans for short- and long-term success when transitioning back to work. One employee in the program said, "Providing this program to a returning mom, even a mom that is returning from leave for the second time, really feels like EY makes me a priority and wants to help me succeed."
And for returning parents, EY's U.S. offices have dedicated lactation rooms and employee resource groups for new moms, new parents, and parents of children with disabilities. Parents also have access to back-up child care as well as breast pumps and travel kits for nursing moms.
EY also offers 16 weeks of paid time off for every primary-care parent no matter how a baby arrives, including via adoption or surrogacy. In addition, the company provides $25,000 in reproductive coverage, unlimited sick days, and a very flexible paid-time-off policy.
Maryella Gockel, EY’s Americas flexibility strategy Leader, says the company is seeing the benefits of a parent-friendly approach (as many other businesses are, too)."Surprisingly, we have found that our working parents in the U.S. are our most engaged professionals" thanks to this culture of support, says Gockel, "which leads to higher productivity and retention."
LinkedIn’s InHerSight scores are high across the board, with a 4.2/5 for flexible work hours and 3.8/5 for both maternity and adoptive leave and family growth support.
Vice president of global benefits Nina McQueen and her team take a data-driven approach to understanding the benefits that are most important to LinkedIn employees. She spent her first months on the job, three years ago, surveying employees about what policies mattered most to them and asking what was missing. She and her team analyzed employee demographics and held focus groups, ultimately resulting in a slate of benefits, under a program called "Family First," that covers the lifecycle of a working parent’s experience, from getting pregnant through college planning.
This program has many standout components, like 16 weeks off for maternity leave with an additional four weeks to transition back to full-time work. Other pregnancy-support benefits include $20,000 for surrogacy costs, an egg-freezing benefit, $5,000 in adoption assistance, and access to an outside leave of absence vendor for help navigating all the paperwork and administrative details.
After a baby arrives, LinkedIn offers new parents backup daycare support, child-care referrals, and a $2,000 child care expense credit through the company's PerkUp! program. LinkedIn also offers six weeks of paid family care leave, mainly so employees can care for ill family members.
The Family First program seems to be contributing to the company’s retention of working moms. LinkedIn’s latest diversity stats show that women make up 42% of its overall workforce and hold 35% of leadership positions, a number that's increased 10% in the last two years. Both figures are above average, particularly in the tech sector.
Dell scores 3.7/5 by employees who've ranked the company on InHerSight, for maternity and adoption leave and family growth support, even though it offers just 12 weeks of disability and family/medical leave—less time than companies with similar scores in our database.
Sarah Luden, a global communications consultant at Dell, was a little worried at first about taking maternity leave, but she worked with her manager to create a solid transition plan. Looking back, Luden says the company's culture of flexibility, autonomy, and trust smoothed the process and made for a positive experience.
While she was out on maternity leave, Luden got check-ins from other working moms in leadership roles at Dell, which she says meant a lot to her and proved a useful source of advice and support. Luden was able to work remotely when transitioning back to work, and her flexible schedule still lets her participate in activities like the Halloween parade at school or a first soccer practice.
Beyond maternity leave, Dell offers other benefits to support families, including 24/7 access to a trained labor and delivery nurse hotline, on-site lactation rooms, lactation support services, childcare resources and referral services, adoption assistance and reimbursement, backup child care, elder care services, reimbursement for fertility treatments, and health benefits extended to domestic partners.
Finally, Dell has very high scores of 4.3/5 for both paid time off and telecommuting. By 2020, Dell even aims to have 50% of its workforce working remotely; 31% of employees already do. In addition to vacation days, Dell offers each employee 10 days of "personal business allowance," which can be used for a wide variety of reasons, including teacher conferences, sick child care, doctor visits, taking care of a sick family member, and more.
Besides generous policies to support working parents, these companies have something else in common: Their leaders are using data to help them make decisions around the benefits they offer. Have you asked your employees what benefits would enhance their experience or taken a look at your employee demographics to understand what benefits employees need most? Maybe it’s not more maternity leave, after all, but an elder care benefit or a few hours of flex time each month. You'll never know if you don't gather the data.
Companies that are leading in our rankings also tend to emphasize flexible work hours, the top benefit InHerSight’s research suggests women are looking for. Allowing your working parents to run out in the middle of the day to read to their preschooler’s class or have lunch with their second grader can go a long way toward winning their loyalty.
Finally, if you’re looking for other companies earning above-average marks for policies like these, EY, Dell, and LinkedIn aren't alone. For inspiration, check out what Johnson & Johnson, Facebook, and Capital One are doing, too.
Kate Ward is head of partnerships for InHerSight, whose mission is to improve the workplace for women by measuring it. InHerSight brings women’s insights together into a common framework to show what’s working and what’s not at companies, and to help more women find their ideal workplace.