Susan Wojcicki Explains Why Paid Maternity Leave Is Good for Business

Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube explains why paid maternity leave is good for business in her most recently published article in the Wall Street Journal. She propels this issue to the forefront of our minds as we head into 2015, taking an influential stance on the importance to continue this conversation.

susan wojcicki

I was Google’s first employee to go on maternity leave. In 1999, I joined the startup that founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had recently started in my garage. I was four months pregnant. At the time the company had no revenue and only 15 employees, almost all of whom were male. Joining a startup pregnant with my first child was risky, but Larry and Sergey assured me I’d have their support.

This month, I’ll go on maternity leave once again—my fifth time—joining the nearly 5,000 women who have done so since I joined Google. And though I’m now CEO of YouTube (which is owned by Google), I’ll be entitled to the same benefits as every single woman at the company who has a baby: 18 weeks of paid maternity leave.

Having experienced how valuable paid maternity leave is to me, my family and my career, I never thought of it as a privilege. But the sad truth is that paid maternity leave is rare in America, and the U.S. lags behind the rest of the world in providing for the needs of pregnant women and new mothers.

Susan not only highlights the recent reports released by the Department of Labor regarding statistics on the U.S. being the ONLY developed country in world that doesn’t offer government-mandated paid maternity leave, but also points to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 as a step in the right direction, but being unpaid —does not offer enough substance for women and families to adequately support their families while on leave.

The statement that has drawn the most media attention, that paid maternity leave is GOOD for business is backed by data that paid leave not only offers more productivity upon return, it enhances overall company morale.

Paid maternity leave is also good for business. After California instituted paid medical leave, a survey in 2011 by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that 91% of employers said the policy either boosted profits or had no effect. They also noted improved productivity, higher morale and reduced turnover.

That last point is one we’ve seen at Google. When we increased paid maternity leave to 18 from 12 weeks in 2007, the rate at which new moms left Google fell by 50%. (We also increased paternity leave to 12 weeks from seven, as we know that also has a positive effect on families and our business.) Mothers were able to take the time they needed to bond with their babies and return to their jobs feeling confident and ready. And it’s much better for Google’s bottom line—to avoid costly turnover, and to retain the valued expertise, skills and perspective of our employees who are mothers.

Best of all, mothers come back to the workforce with new insights. I know from experience that being a mother gave me a broader sense of purpose, more compassion and a better ability to prioritize and get things done efficiently. It also helped me understand the specific needs and concerns of mothers, who make most household spending decisions and control more than $2 trillion of purchasing power in the U.S.

It is refreshing to see women in executive level positions, who are career focused and also mothers –support and enhance the growth of this movement and continue this very important conversation. Thank you Susan and all Blissfulmamas who have lead the effort for change to embrace paid leave in 2015. The time is now.

~Erin

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MA Conference for Women: Why Hillary Clinton is the Most Influential Woman of Our Time.

Check out the release of this story via WiLab! ~Erin

After attending the MA Conference for Women in Boston last Thursday, December 4th, it took me some time to process what I had just experienced. In a sea of over 10,000 women, how do you decipher the takeaways?  For me it was easy. Hillary.

Photo via Getty Images at nypost.com

Photo via Getty Images at nypost.com

Amid the surface level discussions of leaning in, work-life balance, and how to become a super negotiator, the conference was riddled with key note speakers who had something important to say: Today we stand with women of all cultures, different professions, and we join together to celebrate our success.

The Former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton joined the conference poised and ready to discuss current events. She touched upon the Brown Ferguson tragedy in addition to the Garner case, noting that “these are our sons, our brothers” and the most important thing that each of us can do is to try harder to see the world through our neighbor’s eyes. She was distinct in her positioning on the fact that weapons of war have no place on our streets, yet thoughtful in her words on how these events affect our lives, our children, our future.

…I know that a lot of hearts are breaking, and we’re asking ourselves aren’t these our sons and brothers?….We have allowed our criminal justice system to get out of balance…These are our streets, our children, our fellow Americans, and our grief…

When raising a boy, the crash-bang-boom of it all is silenced when you see a tragedy like this. Could this happen to my child when he grows older? How does his skin color protect or portray my child in a way that makes him dangerous? It’s a tough pill to swallow.

Hillary traversed into crediting our founding Massachusetts mothers, my personal favorite Abigail Adams, who was a pioneer for women’s rights. She quickly uncovered the raw truth in how the gender pay gap continues, the difficulty in balancing motherhood and work, and how women get the motherhood penalty, while men often get the pay bump. The ringing truth of these challenges faced by all women who remain focused on their career in addition to having children, is a sound reminder of the enormous work that lies ahead. Massachusetts is only the 3rd state in the country to require paid leave for personal or family member sick time.

…Paid leave is absolutely essential in the work world….We need to get paid leave provisions on every state ballot by 2016…

The thing I most appreciated was the honest dialog, her resonance in talking about the hard issues that women face today and the criticism we all receive for having these conversations. As women continue to have these conversations, we are enabled to grow with a resounding voice. The world needs more Hillary Clinton’s. We need women who have a voice, and offer their insight into important issues. The platform for these topics must be broached.  This is our opportunity to propel this movement into the 21st Century, and influence each other in a sense that we can experience the change first hand, rather than waiting for generations to come.

In my final notes on the keynote luncheon, I found the following quotes;

…Talent is universal. But opportunity is not….

…When women and girls are given opportunities, Nation’s prosper…

…The women of Massachusetts have changed history time and again and I believe they can do it still…

…There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”… via Madeleine Albright

You can see Hillary’s speech from the 10th Annual MA Conference for Women here:

 

It’s time to #LeadOnLeave

It’s time. We are living in the year of 2014 and it’s time that women and men in the United States have the opportunity to care for their newborn children and not worry about taking the time off UNPAID, worry about their job being the same when they return, or rushing back to work because they cannot afford the time off. The Department of Labor states; “The most important family value of all is time together. With the changing nature of our 21st-century workforce, it’s getting harder and harder to balance the demands of the family you love and the job you need. Change has yet to come to Washington, but momentum is growing in the states: So far, California, Rhode Island and New Jersey have passed paid leave laws. It’s time to update workplace policies that are stuck in the past and give more Americans paid family leave – to take care of sick loved ones and newborn children. It’s time for us to #LeadOnLeave.”

This movement is vital to working parents and professionals that value family. The #LeadOnLeave moment would not only ensure paid maternity/paternity leave but also allow for PTO when a family member is ill. Blissfulmamas supports the Department of Labor’s efforts to #LeadOnLeave and hopes that Massachusetts will be the next state to join California, Rhode Island and New Jersey in on this vital effort. You can read more inspiring stories here http://www.dol.gov/featured/paidleave/