- IBM will expand its parent paid leave policy from 14 weeks to 20 weeks for new mothers, Quartz at Work reports. Big Blue will also double paid leave for fathers and adoptive parents, from seven to 14 weeks.
- The company is one of a growing number of big firms to join Deloitte, Google and others in offering more generous paid family leave plans. IBM will also offers up $20,000 to cover adoptive or surrogacy expenses.
- Would-be parents value such policies, says Quartz, citing a Fractl survey that found 25% of female job candidates consider paid parental leave an important benefit when choosing a company.
It's perhaps the biggest major change to employee benefits at IBM since the tech giant's widely publicized decision to roll back remote-work options for some of its marketing staff. That decision has placed IBM at the center of an extensive discussion within the HR industry: does encouraging more remote work and overall flexibility really contribute to higher productivity?
Part of the debate centered on IBM's early adoption of remote work in the 1980s, well before the popularity that the term flexibility enjoys in workplace today. And that decision isn't completely unrelated to parental leave. Flexibility can be an advantage to caregivers, whether they're taking care of small children or other relatives.
The U.S. is one of the few industrialized nations that lacks a universal paid leave policy for families at the federal level, and top employers are keenly aware of this fact. But it takes more than paid leave to attract and retain working mothers; women need a fair opportunity for advancement and a culture that encourages their participation.