Etsy's gender-blind parental leave appears to be working.
In March of last year, Etsy implemented a new policy that provides 26 weeks of paid leave to all employees—no matter their gender—over the two years after a birth or adoption. At the time, Juliet Gorman, Etsy's director of culture and engagement wrote in a blog post that the new policy came as a way to "support and enable parents, regardless of their gender, to play equal roles in building successful companies and nurturing their families." Changes in the traditional family structure, in the workplace, as well as the proven benefits of sharing parental responsibilities, among other reasons, also factored into the company's decision.
Since putting that policy in to effect nine months ago, about 48 of the Etsy's employees have taken leave—half of whom are men, and the other half women. Of those 48, 35% have been promoted since April, Etsy reports, meaning that they were either promoted before, during, or after taking leave. Forty-one percent of those were promoted also advanced to a director level or above.
Giving those employees a promotion despite taking parental leave is a nod to Etsy, especially because a 2013 study by Childbirth Connection found that 22% of mothers surveyed for the study were were concerned about the consequences at work for taking leave, such as lower pay, worse assignments, or fewer opportunities for promotion.
“There's no formula that can tell you whether or not you can afford this,” CEO Chad Dickerson said in a video. “If one person goes out on leave, what I was banking on is that the five other people on his or her team would pick up the slack. And that's exactly what we've seen so far.”
Though companies like Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, Change.org, Reddit, Bank of America, and Patagonia also have gender-blind policies, they're in the minority: only 12% of U.S. private sector workers had access to any paid family leave through their employer as of 2013, down from 15% in 2012. The U.S. is also the only country that doesn't mandate paid maternity leave in the OECD, a group of highly developed economies, notes NPR—an issue that both Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders addressed while campaigning in the 2016 presidential election.