I had a conversation with a VC I'm friendly with today who was asking my thoughts on how to get their portfolio companies to adopt parental leave. Specifically, the question was how to actually implement it given cash and resource-constrained startups who are risk adverse and leanly staffed.
The conversation was 30 minutes and covered a wide range of issues, but to distill it down to 3 things that others might find helpful if they are trying to make the business case for implementation:
1) Something is better than nothing. If a company truly doesn't feel that they can't afford paid leave that's at "market", 2 weeks is better than 0 weeks. 1 week is better than 2 weeks. Don't let perfect be the enemy of good. Start somewhere.
2) If you literally don't have a dime to spare and this is a priority for you, another option is to cut expenses in other areas to pay for it. Benefits packages are called packages for a reason. Is there something else in terms of employee perks or office perks or some other benefit that can pay for some amount of leave for employees?
3) You can budget and forecast for paid parental leave in advance so that the financial impact doesn't come out of nowhere. Anybody who has ever worked in a corporate finance function knows that the fully-baked cost of an employee involves overhead that has nothing to do with their base salary. Bake in the probability and cost of paid leave into your fully-baked costs so as not to be surprised and also to potentially be able to hire freelance or interim coverage for any employee going out on leave.
There's a lot more I could say on the topic and anyone who is a senior manager at an early stage company who wants to talk about this, or just trying to advocate for an improvement in their policies, feel free to connect + message me on FGB.