Our parental leave ‘baby’ – now on solids.

dad-and-baby

Just a little over 6 months ago, Spotify announced its generous parental leave policy. Every full-time Spotify employee is eligible for 6 months 100% paid parental leave plus a 7th month for transitioning back (yes, everyone, men too, including the US).

Since that time, many are doing exactly what we hoped they would do – they are taking parental leave.

There’s no catch, no tricks or loopholes. Regardless of how your family is configured or your gender, if you have a baby, you can use this time in 2 month increments up until the child is 3 years old.

I want to tell you that everything is great with this policy, but I can’t, sort of.

Here’s what we know after six months and 186 employees using the benefit:

  • All employees who went on leave came back appreciative of it.
  • With planning, there was no disruption and the business did not suffer.
  • Out of the 29 employees in the US who used the benefit, 90% are male. Wait, what? 90% dads?!
    Yes, you read that correctly. Our dads are breaking cultural norms here.
  • The world did not turn upside down.

The reason I can’t tell you all is great with this policy is: This should not be a big deal!

Paid leave is the norm in most countries, and understanding our changing workforce is our responsibility as employers. But still, most US companies are falling short or flat when it comes to paid leave.

Recently at the United State of Women summit in Washington DC, a conversation with someone asking me where I worked took a surprising turn. We were discussing parental leave and I mentioned our parental leave policy. Incredulous, all she kept asking was: “For real? In the US?” “Really? 6 months?” “For Dads also?” “Wow! Just wow…I wish! I wish I had that with my babies.”

It makes me sad that “Wow!” and “I wish” was the core of the conversation about parental leave.

We know it was audacious to offer this type of leave on a global scale. We wanted to be fair and offer this benefit to all Spotifiers regardless of where they landed on the globe and what their country might support. But we are seeing this benefit from an employer standpoint. Our employees are loyal and we care. We care about their well-being and their work-life balance, and we support them as their lives take different turns personally and professionally. We’re in it for the long term, and the long term means both personal and professional growth.

One day, will we have changed the conversation on paid leave in the US and a post like this will be uninteresting. But for now, I’m proud that “I wish” isn’t in the same sentence as “babies” around my office water cooler.

I’m thrilled for all the new Spotify moms and dads that are getting the time with their young children. As a mom of 2 boys (age 7 & 10), I was in the “I wish” camp when my kids were babies and as all parents know, you don’t get that time back.

So, let’s keep that “Out of Office: Parental Leave” going. Offering this benefit to parents in their sleep deprived bliss will be something they will never forget and the dividend on this benefit pays everyone it touches.

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