In April of last year, Etsy did something few American employers have done before: It offered 26 weeks of fully-paid time off to new parents, regardless of gender, that could be taken over the two years following the birth or adoption of a child.
According to parental leave data from online job review site Fairygodboss, only a few other major US employers rival the amount of paid time off Etsy is offering, and fewer companies’ policies rival the flexibility and gender-neutrality of Etsy’s policy.
The reasoning behind the radical change, as Business Insider reported at the time, was that enabling mothers and fathers to spend more time with their new child could help counteract unconscious bias, lead to healthier relationships at home, and help parents to do better work upon their return.
“We want to support and enable parents, regardless of their gender, to play equal roles in building successful companies and nurturing their families,” Juliet Gorman, Etsy’s director of culture and engagement, wrote on Medium at the time. “We believe it fits squarely within Etsy’s mission to reimagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world.”
Now, nine months into the experiment, Etsy is happy to report that, while it’s still early days, things are going well.
Not an employer to leave the decisions impacting its people to chance, Etsy has tracked its parental leave policy’s impact using both statistical data and anecdotal evidence. As Etsy reports:
“Since Etsy’s new parental leave policy took effect, 48 employees have taken leave: 50% identify as men, and 50% as women. (For context, people who identify as women comprise roughly 54% of Etsy’s overall staff, according to our most recent diversity report).
“From our early findings, we’re proud to say that taking generous parental leave has not negatively impacted our employees’ careers. Of those who have taken the new parental leave, 35% have been promoted since April, which means they were promoted either soon before, during, or after taking leave. Of those who were promoted, 41% advanced to director level or above.”
Tune in to Etsy’s video below to see first-hand just what kind of an impact the parental leave policy is having:
Geneva Perezcastaneda, an email content specialist at Etsy, says in the video that the new policy makes her feel more valued. “I get to be this mum that I want to be, where I’m there for my son and I’m there for my job, and I don’t feel like I have to choose between the two.”
Fathers are enjoying the new perk as well.
“My wife no longer has to put aside her career so that she can take on the responsibility of being the primary caregiver. Now I can jump in and also be that person,” says Amish Shah, a senior product manager at Etsy.
“The leave gives me a chance to think about some alone time with my son,” he says. “Under the old policy I would not have thought that I could actually spend time one-on-one with him, and it’s one of the things I’m looking forward to most.”
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