The nature of caregiving in the U.S. is changing — meaning the needs of caregivers, and the ways that companies can (and should) support those needs, is also in transition.
Enter Deloitte. The 115-year-old organization debuted a paid family leave program at the end of 2016 that was billed as a first of its kind for the professional services industry, and it’s quickly proven itself to be as indispensable as it is progressive. Under this new program, eligible Deloitte employees — both men and women alike — can take up to 16 weeks of fully paid leave to bond with a new child or to care for a family member with a serious health condition. It’s a move that Jen Fisher, Well-being Leader at Deloitte LLP, finds reflective not only of the organization’s commitment to inclusivity, but also to the needs of their talent base.
“We currently have multiple generations working as part of our workforce, and if you look at traditional parental leave programs — while those are certainly fantastic to have — they typically only deal with leave for people that are welcoming a child through birth or adoption,” Fisher said. “We really wanted to expand and go beyond that to support our people in their entire life journey.”
And what might that life journey include? For many in today’s “sandwich generation,” it can mean caring for aging parents alongside young children, or needing to provide care to a sick spouse or partner. Even our most traditional understanding of caregiving, that of mothers assuming the bulk of child care, is continuing to evolve, with more and more men playing equally active roles. And Deloitte gets that — their paid family leave program is incredibly generous to both working U.S. dads and moms, period.
“Part of the reason we’re doing this is because we were hearing from our people that this would be valuable for them, and that they wanted a program that better reflected evolving family dynamics,” Fisher said. “The feedback across the board has been phenomenal — both men and women are taking (leaves), and we are starting to see an increase in the amount of time that men in particular are taking when welcoming a new child.”
As incredible of an opportunity as Deloitte’s leave program is for men who want to be truly present in the first days of their children’s lives, this isn’t to say moms are getting the shabby end of the stick — far from it. Under the new program, birthmothers are eligible for up to six paid months off when factoring in for short-term disability. Not only that, but women (and anyone who takes advantage of Deloitte’s program, for that matter) have the flexibility to choose exactly how they plan to utilize their extended leave. For one new mom and Deloitte employee, Neda Long, that meant divvying up her leave into chunks that suited her family’s needs best.
Long, an auditor working in Deloitte’s Nashville office, gave birth to her son in July 2016 and had the intent of returning to work in October. But when Deloitte announced their new family leave policy in September and she learned her leave had been extended, things changed.
“It was an incredible surprise… I had the choice of tacking on additional weeks right then or, so long as you use them within the first year of birth, moving them to later,” Long said. “So that’s what I personally chose, because I was already planning on returning in October when the season picks up and I can get better connected with the work I’m doing and be part of the planning process.”
Long was back at work full-time October through March, during which time her husband stayed at home as caregiver. After her audit season ended, she then tacked on two more months of leave in April and recently returned to work again. Now, she’s working an adjusted 85% schedule as part of the flexibility that Deloitte offers — another enviable perk — and says her decisions have been met with nothing but support.
“When I called and told the partner I report to, ‘The family leave program was implemented and I now have the option to continue my leave through this season,’ he was so supportive and told me, ‘You do what’s best for you,’” Long said.
This sense of customization is key, and something Fisher relates to Deloitte’s emphasis on “well-being,” a more evolved take on work-life balance that factors in traditional wellness benefits alongside newer, progressive ones (like paid caregiving leave for eligible employees.)
“We obviously have leading benefit programs, but for us, well-being is really about culture, how we treat and support one another, and allowing our people to focus on what matters most to them,” Fisher said. “We also believe well-being is good business. Our people are our greatest asset in professional services. So when we think about facing off with the market, serving our clients with distinction and world-class client service, we want and need our people to be at their best.”
Does Deloitte sound like a place where you could be living your best life, in every sense? Conveniently, the firm is currently seeking to fill positions across the country! You can learn more about Deloitte careers by visiting their website.
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