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Etsy Fights Gender Bias With New Parental Leave Policy

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on March 15, 2016 4:14 PM

In order for parents and children to bond, they need time together, especially in the child's early stages of life. With that in mind, Etsy has joined other employers in instituting a family leave policy that applies to mothers and fathers equally and is generous by American employment standards.

The move may have been influenced by the personal experiences of the company CEO, Chad Dickerson, who in 2014 adopted a child and spoke publicly about his leave. He reportedly took full advantage of the then-existing policy for parents, reports Fast Company. But Etsy is not the only company adopting a gender neutral and generous policy, nor the first.

Etsy Follows in Spotify's Footsteps

Late last year the Swedish-based company music streaming company Spotify made a big splash by announcing that it was going to institute an extensive and generous leave policy available to all parents. Spotify said it was doing it to promote Swedihs culutural values that emphasiz healthy work/life balance and gender equality.

Now Etsy has announced a similarly gender neutral and generous approach for parents of newborns and adoptive parents. In addition to allowing parents of either gender to enjoy leave equally for 6 months, the new policies give parents flexibility about when they can take time off. Still, Etsy is emphasizing the importance of early continuous contact with a newborn child, and parents must take eight of their 26 available weeks within the first six months with the child.

Gender Neutrality

Etsy's director of culture and engagement told Fast Company that the new Etsy policy for parents is specifically designed to be gender neutral. It attempts to account for unconscious cultural and gender biases that both men and women face. Research Etsy relied upon showed that both mothers and fathers were hurt in terms of promotions and raises when they took leave.

Gorman said, "This is wrong-headed. As a business, Etsy needs people who are clear on our priorities, motivated, and focused on achieving our long-term goals, and we know that being a parent is not mutually exclusive to being this type of employee. In fact, we believe that policies that retain talented parents strengthen our overall employee base."

Can You Afford to Be Generous?

If you are interested in instituting a more generous leave policyin your place of business and would like help sorting out options, obligations, and best practices, talk to a lawyer. Get guidance and ensure any decisions you make work for you, your business, and your workers.

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