America’s maternity leave policies leave much to be desired. But in recent headlines, Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer, has taken a step towards progress. Her new policies give mothers 16 weeks of paid maternity leave and fathers 8 weeks of paid paternity leave.
This is a major step in the right direction. Motivation behind this new policy has been attributed to either a response to an unpopular decision to force remote employees move into company offices, or Mayer’s own ridiculously short 2-week maternity leave in September.
Those may have contributed to Mayer’s decision, but I think the more likely culprit is competition. Mayer’s previous employer, and Yahoo’s competitor, Google, offers anywhere from 16 to 22 weeks paid maternity leave and seven weeks of paternity leave. Silicon Valley was one of the only areas of employment that couldn’t hire people quickly enough during the recession (due to a lack of a qualified domestic employee pool,) so prospective employees have options. When you’re evaluating those options, you can be sure that benefits, including parental leave policies, weigh into the equation.
Could we be witnessing the start of reasonable maternity leave policies in the states? There’s no doubt that we’re witnessing them in the tech sector. Make sure to tell your daughter she’s good at math. Tell her she’s good at science. Encourage her so that tomorrow she can work for companies that can afford to employ her and afford to offer her the benefits she deserves as a talented, well-qualified employee.