Wojcicki, who was the first-ever woman to take maternity leave at Google (YouTube’s parent company), highlighted the issue’s importance to America’s working women at a CNNMoney event in New York City on Wednesday.
“Paid leave is not just a mother and child issue — it’s a societal issue we have,” she told attendees, noting that nearly one fourth of American women are back at work just 10 days after giving birth. “How can that be good for babies? How can that be good for breastfeeding? We’re paying for it in an all these health costs as opposed to just giving women the time to be at home and recover (and) bond with their babies.”
Wojcicki concluded by saying the U.S.’s lack of paid maternity leave is the policy issue she’d most like to see the Trump administration tackle.
Currently, out of 185 countries surveyed by the United Nations, the U.S. stands out as one of only two countries to not mandate paid maternity leave, something Wojcicki has spoken out about before. In a 2014 column written for the Wall Street Journal, the high-powered executive and mom of five stressed that the U.S. “lags behind the rest of the world” in providing for the needs of mothers.
“In study after study, the (International Labour Organization) and other labor and health organizations have shown how harmful a lack of paid maternity leave can be for mothers and their babies,” she wrote. “Many times when faced with insufficient maternity leave, mothers choose to drop out of the workforce, leading to a considerable loss of income during a woman’s most productive years. Or it can force a woman back to work too quickly, with adverse effects on her and her child’s health.”
She also asserted that paid maternity leave doesn’t just make sense morally — it’s good business sense, too. This is something she’s seen firsthand at Google.
“When we increased paid maternity leave to 18 from 12 weeks in 2007, the rate at which new moms left Google fell by 50%,” she wrote. “Mothers were able to take the time they needed to bond with their babies and return to their jobs feeling confident and ready. And it’s much better for Google’s bottom line — to avoid costly turnover, and to retain the valued expertise, skills and perspective of our employees who are mothers.”
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