The war for talent is heating up.
On Thursday, Deloitte LLP announced what the company is touting as most extensive new family leave policy in the professional services industry. The new rules will allow all employees—men and women—to take up to 16 fully paid weeks off to care for a family member. This includes a new child, spouse, or aging parent. With the addition of these 16 weeks, birth mothers will now be eligible for up to 6 months of paid time off when factoring in short-term disability.
"This is about being more inclusive," says Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert is an exclusive interview with Fortune. "As we think about innovation in talent, we think about well-being—well-being being the big focus of ours—it goes way beyond the things you traditionally think," she says. "We really want to be known as an innovative talent organization."
Deloitte's previous paid leave program focused on new parents and provided primary caregivers with eight weeks of paid time off (in addition to short-term disability benefits). Non-primary caregivers up got three weeks of fully paid leave.
The company is the latest consulting firm this year to announce major changes to its paid leave policy. Back in April, competitor EY expanded its employee benefits to 16 fully-paid weeks for all new moms and dads in the U.S. The company's announcement at the time declared that it was a “first mover in equalizing parental leave benefits for men and women among the Big Four, Accenture, IBM and other professional services firms.”
Now, Deloitte has upped the stakes, declaring in a release that its new program is "the first of its kind for professional services."
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The company's new policy does appear to be more comprehensive than that of its competitors. Among PwC, KPMG, IBM, and Accenture, paid leave for birth mothers ranges from 12 weeks to 18 weeks, while other primary caregivers get between three and 12 weeks, according to the company websites and previous Fortune reporting.
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) all employees in the U.S. receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off per year for such situations as the birth or adoption of a child, and the illness of a family member for whom they must provide care.
"As you start thinking about a multigenerational workforce, you have to start thinking about [employees'] changing responsibilities," says Engelbert.
In an employee survey, 88% of respondents said that they would value a paid leave program that includes family care beyond parental leave. "This is what our employees want," says the CEO, who can relate to those employees wanting time off to care for aging parents—her own mother turns 80 in a couple of weeks.
Deloitte currently employs 78,000 people in the U.S. This year alone, the company hired 25,000 employees, two-thirds of whom were women and minorities.