Parental Leave

I am on the board of Etsy, which is now a public company, so I don’t blog about it much anymore. But I’ve been involved in a discussion at Etsy over the past few months that is both important and raises challenging issues. It is the subject of parental leave. Who should be entitled to parental leave and how much leave should be given?

Etsy announced to its employees today that it is making several fundamental changes to its parental leave policy. The new policy is:

Etsy employees will be eligible for 26 weeks of fully paid leave in the two years after they become a parent through birth or adoption, regardless of their gender, country of residence or family circumstance.

Etsy is not alone in making these changes. Other big tech companies like Facebook have made similar changes to their paternal leave policy. And so some of this is reacting to the competitive market for talent, particularly female talent. But our discussion at Etsy actually focused on other issues.

Etsy is a marketplace where creative entrepreneurs, many of whom are women, can create a more fulfilling and flexible way to support their families. An important goal of this policy change was to align the internal company values with the marketplace values.

Etsy is a global company with significant operations in countries with parental leave regulations that are more generous than what exists in the US. It was an important goal of Etsy to align its parental leave policies across the entire organization.

But most importantly, as Etsy’s CEO Chad Dickerson said to the company when he announced this change, “The well-being of employees & their families is not just good for people, it’s good for business.”

I fully support Etsy’s parental leave policy and am proud that Etsy is at the forefront of a movement in the tech industry for more family friendly employee policies.

However, I am not suggesting that all startups or all USV backed startups should do the same. It is easier to do this sort of thing when you have a workforce in the thousands or tens of thousands than when you have a team of four people working from a co-working space. Each company needs to decide when and how they can consider such a parental leave policy. But for those that have the scale to consider this approach, I am strongly in favor of it and share Chad’s belief that what is good for employees and their families is good for business.