Last week, Netflix announced a ground-breaking unlimited, paid maternity and paternity leave policy for most of their employees. We love sharing information about company policies that impact working women so we immediately started sharing the news on social media. We assumed most people would be happy for Netflix employees and the worst emotion coming out of the announcement would be jealousy.
What happened next surprised us: people started criticizing Netflix’s policy. Suddenly we were reading headlines like “Why Netflix’s New Parental-Leave Policy Could Make Things Worse for Women” and “Why Netflix’s ‘unlimited’ Maternity Leave Policy Won’t Work“. Then there were those who were rightly upset that certain Netflix employees would be left out. NPR reported that certain employees in its DVD division and call centers would not be covered in “Netflix Still Facing Questions Over Its New Parental Leave Policy.”
We think Netflix should get another round of applause.
As the saying goes: “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Is Netflix’s policy “perfect”? Almost certainly, no. It only covers some of its employees. It could have been even more generous by explicitly giving 1 year of paid leave instead of leaving it up to employee discretion. They could have required that employees (or managers) take some minimum amount of maternity leave so others wouldn’t feel pressured to copy workaholic examples around them. It could have created a policy that would be easier for other companies to emulate / copy. It could have created world peace and erased all workplace gender biases. (Ok, we’re being sarcastic now).
Our point is this: Netflix is trying to do better by many of the parents at their company. They have a culture that already gave an unlimited vacation policy, which presumably was working for them despite the ambiguity. And they are trying to treat men and women equally in giving equal parental leave and not making assumptions about which gender will take on more child-rearing responsibilities at home.
So could their policy have been better, clearer, more inclusive? Probably, yes. But should they mostly ignore all the hand-wringing and concern? Absolutely.