How These Five CEOs are Embracing Motherhood And Reshaping Parental Leave At Work
18 months ago, I delivered my second-born by C-section. Unlike the birth of his sister nine years ago, I was much more relaxed knowing fully well I won’t be returning to work anytime soon. Afterall, I had taken the last three weeks off work leading up to his birth to properly create space for his arrival. We were finishing up his room, purchasing last minute baby items, packing our hospital bags and resting as much as we can before his arrival. This time was also different for a special reason, I was going to take 4-months parental leave at 100% pay with the opportunity to take an extra 1-month at no pay if I choose. In addition, my husband was also offered a 2-month parental leave at 100% pay that was mandatory by our employer, yes, we work for the same company. When I had my daughter, I had zero parental leave, zero benefits of any kind. I’m sure you can imagine the chaos and the stress we went through – and millions of families still go through today.
The topic of paid parental leave in America have been discussed in length. I am not here to beat the topic to death, however, as I prepare once again for the birth of my third child, I cannot help but notice how relaxed I truly feel knowing that I work for a company that supports me as a professional ambitious woman and a mother. In the months after my son was born, I was offered a generous bonus while on maternity leave with a top-tier increase in pay. Upon my return, I interviewed for another position within my organization while 5-months pregnant, and was offered the job with no questions asked. Sometimes, I pinch myself because I am fully aware of the bias in the workplace once women become mothers, and unfortunately, those biases continue today across small, medium and large-sized corporations where women are passed on for promotions, raises and more before, during and after pregnancy.
During my last maternity leave, I founded Mother Honestly, a think-tank and platform that encourages ambitious women in motherhood. We’ve grown rapidly across the United States and beyond as thousands of women continue to ask the question “how do I approach my life, my goals and ambition in motherhood.” Many continue to lament about the state of parental leave in America – the only developed nation with no provisions for paid parental leave. As such, this topic extremely important to me not only as a career professional but as a leader in my new role as Founder & CEO of the fastest growing platform and conference for modern mothers.
Pregnancy is hard, and life with a newborn while stressing financially with a countdown clock to start work in 2-3 weeks is harder. Which is why we’ve followed the adventures of these tech CEOS who are currently holding space for conversations like maternity leave, paid parental leave, and family-oriented policies at work.
Whitney Wolfe Herd – Bumble CEO & Founder
The 29-year old CEO announced that she wants to think of work-life balance for parents beyond paid parental leave. She already offers her employees 4-months paid leave, $1,000 stipend to offset childcare cost. Parent leave can be customized so that parents can return to work after three months and spread the remaining months’ time over the course of the following year or more. She also offers reimbursements for breast milk home delivery service through Milk Stork and covers costs incurred by Maven, an app that provides counseling and nutrition services to parent and parents-to-be. However, with Herd announcing her own pregnancy, she’s promised to do more – thinking of ways to bring childcare to Bumble’s new building in Austin so employees can reserve to have a caretake watch their child while they work. We are super proud of this mama-to-be who is due November!
Daina Trout – HealthAde Kombucha CEO & Co-Founder
The mother of one, soon-to-be two anytime now is a huge advocate for mothers and argued recently that companies need to stop treating maternity leave like a one-size-fits-all solution. After launching her company in 2012 before the arrival of her first son, she knew she’d become a mother as a Founder of a company. Trout recently shared her view on maternity leave now that she is a mother.
As a CEO who designs the benefits for people who choose to join our company, and as a woman who has seen motherhood in the office from many perspectives, I encourage employers to see maternity leave as an extremely complex issue in the workplace. It’s more than just a solution for a mother’s “time off.” I am personally excited to welcome Daina Trout to the second annual Mother: The Summit in Detroit this Fall.
Amy Nelson – The Riveter, CEO & Founder
This mama of four girls, former Wall Street lawyer and CEO of The Riveter was passed over for a job promotion after returning to work from maternity leave. Her boss didn’t think it was the “right time” expressing concern over her workload as a mother. Nelson left the company to start a female-forward coworking space in Seattle which has expanded to other major cities in the United States. Amy argues that American companies are failing new mothers and its time to do better. Corporate America is built by and for men and its nearly impossible to climb the ladder to a C-suite with kids. Amy’s fight for paid parental leave is personal and she continues to share more during her eight weeks of leave to focus on her fourth baby, a shorter timeframe than her corporate policy of 16 weeks since she plans on modeling her new policy of ‘bring your baby to work’ while she tackles aspects of her job that cannot be filled in by others. I can’t wait to interview Amy on the Mother Honestly Podcast in a few weeks. Feel free to share any questions you may have for Amy in the comments or in a DM on Facebook/Instagram.
Alex Friedman and Jordana Kier - Lola, Co-Founders
These Co-Founders have juggled three pregnancies since March 2017. They wrote a maternity policy knowing they’d be the first to use it. The company offers a gender-agnostic 12-weeks of fully paid parental leave. Passing the business back and forth while each took her own maternity leave, they were able to effectively plan and execute various aspects of the business. These new moms are currently soaking in motherhood and redefining parental leave at their own company.