As of today, just 13% of women in the US are provided with paid time off to have a baby by their employers - as Bryce Covert points out in this New York Times editorial. Even the best paid maternity leave programs at companies often pale in comparison to those offered outside the US.
That said, 2015 was a very good year for paid maternity leave, with many companies announcing enhanced policies. Last year, the groundswell of new leave policies was somewhat concentrated in the highly-competitive tech sector with Microsoft, Netflix, Adobe, Spotify and Facebook all announcing enhanced parental leave policies.
But perhaps 2016 will be the year when many other industries jump on board!
Big news came yesterday from the Industrial sector when Dow Chemical announced an improved policy: "Mothers will get a minimum of 12 weeks of paid leave, while non-birthing parents can get 2." This change nearly doubled their previous policy, as reported in Crain's Detroit Business.
Perhaps even bigger news came when JPMorgan - who has over 240,000 employees globally - announced a strengthened US paternal leave policy: Primary caregivers now receive fully paid parental leave of 16 weeks up from 12 previously.
Business Insider reported this fantastic quote from Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, via John Donnelly, JPMorgan's head of human resources: "First and foremost, take care of your health. Not just physical health, but mental health and mental well-being. Take care of your family — however you define family. If you mess up either the first two, it'll probably be hard to have a great career anyway."
This news puts JPMorgan just on par with Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, who both offer 16 weeks also, but ahead of and Bank of America (who offers 12 paid weeks).
In related news, this week Fairygodboss released exciting new research at The Girls' Lounge at Davos that shows that the amount of paid maternity leave taken by female employees is highly correlated to their job satisfaction.
Fairygodboss, a free, anonymous job review site for women by women, also has a crowd-sourced database of maternity leave policies. "By creating transparency around this opaque space, we're hopeful that we can help ignite this groundswell we're seeing of enhanced policies at companies and in industries all throughout the US and the world," said Fairygodboss co-founder Romy Newman.
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