Do you know your employer’s maternity leave policy?
If so, you’re one of very few people who do, says Romy Newman, co-founder of Fairygodboss, an online community where women share experiences with, and information about, current or former employers.
Currently, only five of the Fortune 100 companies publicly list their maternity leave policies on their websites, making it difficult for women considering starting families to compare various firms, says Newman.
The situation is made worst by the fact that “[most women] are extremely uncomfortable asking about maternity leave policies in an interview,” says Newman. Employer review site Glassdoor’s survey of 1,000 women in the UK found that 78% of women would not ask a potential employer about policies at the interview stage.
To remedy the situation, Fairygodboss today launched the Maternity Leave Resource Center, a searchable database of the leave policies of approximately 550 companies.
The directory will benefit women, who can easily learn about and compare the various maternity policies of potential employers, as well companies themselves, since it will allow them to compare their benefits to those of competitors, says Newman.
“There is no destination where women can go to find information [about maternity leave],” says Newman’s co-founder Georgene Huang, and no way for “the average company to know how they’re doing.”
While Working Mother publishes a list of 100 best companies for moms, and Glassdoor provides information about salaries and cultures, neither offer a searchable tool specifically for maternity leave benefits.
Because so few companies disclose maternity benefits publicly, the information in the database is crowd-sourced based on anonymous tips and reviews submitted by female employees. While crowd-sourced data isn't always reliable, Fairygodboss says it's attempted to be as transparent as possible about the information it receives.
So far, Fairygodboss has received 5,000 anonymous tips and 3,300 member reviews about a few thousand companies, says Huang. Where there's a discrepancy between different user’s tips, the database shows a range, a consensus (if any), and the median of different responses.
Fairygodboss launched in March of this year when Huang was looking to switch jobs while pregnant.
“I knew I wanted to look at a place where women would be treated fairly, where I thought I could have the kind of work culture I believe in...but a lot of the questions I had, I couldn’t find answers,” Huang says.
She was particularly surprised by the lack of transparency about maternity benefits. “I was really disappointed that there wasn’t any research around maternity leave policies,” she says.
When she learned how many women interested in finding out, she decided to forego her job search and instead dedicate her time to answer those questions.
“If this can mitigate a small part of the stress of being pregnant while working, then it’s worth doing,” Huang says.
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