The new employee benefit!

Apple and Facebook have announced their plans to fund egg-freezing treatments, with the aim that it will allow women to delay having children whilst they pursue their careers.  The IT industry is particularly unbalanced when it comes to gender, with Apple’s workforce being 70% male and Facebook’s 69% male.  Apple have said, ‘We want to empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families’ and it is hoped that the additional benefit will attract and help retain talent.

This benefit has understandably been met with mixed views which include some positive responses from those that see this as a way to show support for employees in their life choices.  On the other hand, there are those with concerns over the potential for less favourable treatment of those who decide not to take up the benefit or placing pressure on women to put their careers first (at least in the short term).    Working Families CEO Sarah Jackson has been reported as saying that by placing the onus on women to delay having children seems an odd way to encourage more women to enter the sector.   Many are also questioning why the money is not being spent on childcare rather than what is being seen by some as an employer seeking to control something that is very personal.

It is worth noting that the offer to freeze eggs is one of a number of initiatives that Apple are looking to offer, which include longer parental leave, education reimbursements for all classes taken by employees and subsidised student loan refinancing.  Denise Young-Smith became Apple’s Head of Human Resources in February 2014 and in an effort to attract and retain talent, she asked Apple’s employees what kind of benefits they care most about.  Whilst the benefit of egg freezing has received mixed responses, it is a good idea to speak to your employees regularly to find out what benefits are most valued and can be offered to attract and retain talent within your organisations.

Erica Dennett