Freeze those Eggs! A New Benefit Perk?

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FREEZE THOSE EGGS! A NEW BENEFIT PERK?

In the Silicon Valley arms race to lure the top talent with the best benefits and attract more women to their staff , Facebook and Apple are offering to pay for the egg freezing procedure for women who choose it to delay childbearing.

With this latest announcement, comes a flurry of opinions on the matter. Does this benefit really help women in their careers take the pressure off?

Having a high-powered career and children is still a very hard thing to do,” said Brigitte Adams, an egg-freezing advocate and founder of the patient forum Eggsurance.com. By offering this benefit, companies are investing in women, she said, and supporting them in carving out the lives they want.

This latest NBC article makes some very interesting points; although I wish they had actually interviewed potential candidates for this new benefit and gotten their take on the topic. Will people really utilize this benefit? How does this benefit change family planning / career plans? Would you consider freezing your eggs in hopes to get ahead in your career, to avoid the dreadful biological clock that most women fear? Will the process work when you are actually ready to have children? Is the process painful? What are the risks that it all together will not work?

With the great pressures on women and career, this benefit will most likely come at an important time in bringing more women into the workforce, and assisting them to reach top level executive opportunities.

From a business perspective, most want to know…will this perk pay off?

“The attitude toward egg freezing is very different,” and more positive, than just a few years ago, said Christy Jones, founder of Extend Fertility, a company that offers and promotes egg freezing across the country. Women are making the proactive decision to freeze their eggs at a younger age, and the choice is “more one of empowerment than, this is my last chance”

Will the perk pay off for companies? The benefit will likely encourage women to stay with their employer longer, cutting down on recruiting and hiring costs. And practically speaking, when women freeze their eggs early, firms may save on pregnancy costs in the long run, said Westphal. A woman could avoid paying to use a donor egg down the road, for example, or undergoing more intensive fertility treatments when she’s ready to have a baby.

But the emotional and cultural payoff may be more valuable, said Jones: Offering this benefit “can help women be more productive human beings.”

This last statement makes me cringe “help women be more productive human beings” REALLY? I didn’t realize we were all so unproductive. Regardless of your organization’s standpoint, the companies that offer these benefits, and the companies that SELL these benefits; like Extend Fertility & Eggsurance….The choice is YOURS. The choice that you make regarding your career and family planning is up to YOU and your FAMILY. Try to block out the demanding voices all around you and even in your head. When the time is right (it may never feel like the right time if you have a demanding career), but when you are ready to have a little mini you in the back of your car, sharing the joys of life  – you will find a way to make it work. And for those who struggle TTC or if you fear TTC later in life, by all means freeze those eggs!

We found the following articles published on Bloomberg Business Week  by Emma Rosenblum  to be more thought out, better presented and factual if you are looking for additional information; check out these two stories.

The Real Reason Women Freeze Their Eggs Isn’t Career Growth

Given a choice, every woman I spoke to would prefer to have had children earlier and naturally. The hindrance in most cases was their not having found the right partner at the right time. Sure, most were working hard in their careers; this was part of why, they felt, they hadn’t settled down. Not one of the women I interviewed took egg-freezing lightly. They didn’t want to have to do it. While it’s nice to have the option, I doubt that droves of young women in Silicon Valley will be lining up to collect that money.

Later, Baby: Will Freezing Your Eggs Free Your Eggs Free Your Career?

Behind this week’s coverLike many others who’ve frozen their eggs, Emily uses the word “empowered” to describe the experience. She thinks it will allow her to date without radiating the desperation of someone who has to have a baby right this very second. And now she doesn’t feel as guilty about dedicating most of her time to work. “It’s like, thank God, I don’t have to focus on having kids quite yet. I’m not in a real panic anymore,” she says. Her mother, however, would still like her to get on with it. “She said to me, only half-jokingly, ‘I’m glad you went to business school and work 100 hours a week—and don’t have time to meet anyone—so you can afford to freeze your eggs.’ Thanks, Mom.”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BLISSFULMAMAS

dsc_0013Blissfulmamas is inspired by living in the moment, embracing the chaos and enjoying the crazy wonderful ride of motherhood. As working professionals, we really do have it all! Come as you are and embrace it. Families are like snowflakes, each different and unique, no two the same. The antiquated idea of the perfect roadmap to raising a family, balancing a professional job, and everything else in and between is long overdue for a make over! Blissfulmamas is a networking community for working mamas with a positive outlook, looking to collaborate with each other on career advancements, job opportunities, managing and organizing family life, without forgetting about the long overdue personal “me” time. Our goal is to act as a positive outreach for working mamas and be a place where workingmamascan collaborate & find resources, all available on the go! 
 
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WiLab’s Working Mom Series: Apple and Facebook’s New Egg Freezing ‘Benefit?’

APPLE AND FACEBOOK’S ANNOUNCEMENT THAT THEY ARE COVERING THE COST OF FREEZING EGGS HAS PEOPLE TALKING.

apple-facebook-freeze-eggs-mainThis NBC News article takes the positive approach to the matter, kicking off with a quote from Brigitte Adams, an egg-freezing advocate and founder of the patient forum Eggsurance.com. By offering this benefit, companies are investing in women…and supporting them in carving out the lives they want.”  NBC focuses on the positives of this new corporate benefit like leveling the playing field for a male-dominated Silicon Valley and attracting more female talent.  It goes on to quote author Emma Rosenblum  “Not since the birth control pill has a medical technology had such potential to change family and career planning.” 

The article does also touch on, only very briefly, the drawbacks to companies covering the cost of freezing eggs. Women may feel indebted to the company or feel it is perceived they cannot do their job while pregnant or a mother. However, it is brushed off by claiming “the more likely explanation for lack of coverage is simply that egg freezing is still new, and conversation around the procedure has only recently gone mainstream.”

I BEGAN THINKING THROUGH MY STANCE ON THIS NEW “CORPORATE BENEFIT” AS A WORKING MOTHER, MYSELF.

Is it a benefit or a ploy to have women be indebted to their employers and feel pressure to put off Motherhood? The line between work life and personal life is one that is quickly blurring and policies like these blur those lines even further.

Egg freezing is a huge decision and a huge cost, but one that has historically been made after a personal evaluation of your career and financials. With this new benefit a third party, your employer, joins the conversation.  Some may argue that your employer was always a part of the conversation, and that is probably true. However, your employer isn’t just a factor anymore, but rather an active contributor.

On the one hand this is a fabulous benefit to offer employees who have already or would have elected to freeze their eggs and may not have been able to afford it.  It supports women’s flexibility in choosing when they want to start a family and gives them the opportunity to focus on career now and family later.

On the other hand, this new corporate benefit can add an element of pressure that some women previously did not feel.  Before this benefit, the decision was entirely yours to make.  Now, since your employer is funding the process there may be a feeling of obligation, or guilt.  If you decide to have a child now rather than freeze your eggs for a chance later, does that put you at a disadvantage to progress in your career if you choose to return to work after maternity leave?

Dozens more questions passed through my mind on the matter. What if the company pays to freeze your eggs and later are fortunate enough to have a child when you want one, and then don’t want to go back to work, do you feel pressure to do so because your employer paid for you to freeze your eggs in the first place? What if your employer pays to freeze your eggs and then you decide you want to go to a different company?  Do you stay longer than you would have otherwise?

WHERE I NET OUT

I netted out in a place that, at the surface I think it is positive that companies are expanding the benefits they provide their employees, but companies need to do more. I came across one article on SFgate.com that focuses on the need to think about and encourage companies to offer more benefits for employees once they have a family. I certainly agree!

As stated in the sfgate.com article “They could have offered on-site day care. (Currently, Facebook offers full-time on-site day care only for dogs; Apple offers none for dogs or humans.) They could have offered to ease negotiations about flexible work schedules for new parents. Above all, they could have offered transparent salary scales and guaranteed pay equity. Women feel far better about starting a family when they know they won’t be penalized, either economically or in terms of career opportunity, for doing so.”

Rather than discuss the perception of a benefit that a company has decided to offer, we should continue to encourage people to make the decisions that are right for them and encourage employers to expand their benefits to support those decisions.  I hope to see an evolution in the way companies support those employees who choose to have a family.  Some companies already offer flexible work hours or on-site daycare, but that is far from the norm and only a start.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Timna MolbergerTimna Molberger is the Director of Analytics at Visible Measures. As a working mom of 2, Timna squeezes in as much time as she can with her husband and two children and when she has a spare moment or needs a break you will find her rock climbing, hanging out with friends, or just relaxing. Timna holds a B.A. in Economics and Sociology from Connecticut College.

Location: Boston, MA

Read More about and from Timna: Timna‘s WiLab Profile