YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, a mother of five, makes the case at the Huffington Post that generous family leave policies are essential for tech companies that want to attract and retain talented women:
I have been lucky in my life. I was Google’s first employee to go on maternity leave and last year I became the only person to take five maternity leaves at Google. Each of those leaves enriched my career and more importantly, enriched my life. They left me with the peace of mind, knowing that I could return after spending the time I truly wanted and needed at home with my new baby. Interestingly, I also found that each break gave me a chance to reflect on my career. During my second maternity leave, I decided to make a change and work in advertising, where I then spent the next 12 years of my career.
It may sound counterintuitive, but the research–and Google’s own experience–shows a generous paid maternity leave actually increases retention. When women are given a short leave, or they’re pressured to be on call, some decide it’s just not worth it to return. That’s why, when Google increased its paid maternity leave policy from 12-to-18 weeks, we saw the rate at which new mothers quit fall by 50 percent.
Considering the costs associated with turnover, such a dramatic drop in attrition is a huge gain for Google. And it’s not the first company to find that a robust parental leave offering encourages female employees to stick around, either: When Adobe announced its generous new policy last year, retention improved considerably even before the policy went into effect:
Far fewer women quit their jobs at Adobe in October, just two months after the software maker announced it would offer a half-year of leave to mothers who give birth, Donna Morris, Adobe’s senior vice president for people, told The Huffington Post on Wednesday. The new policy, which also includes 16 weeks of leave for adoptive parents, surrogates and fathers, doesn’t even go into effect until Nov. 1.