Time to think about family planning. You, your body, and ... your employer?
Facebook made headlines when it first began comping employees for freezing their eggs, but now more companies are taking an active role in helping their workers plan and research their fertility.
Employers like Google and Apple offer full financial assistance for egg freezing. Spotify funds unlimited in-vitro fertilization. Patagonia offers childcare and family support services, opening the door for companies to take an active role in their employees' children's lives - from the (literal) very beginnings all the way through Pre-K and beyond.
For younger employees, the issue is only going to become more important. In one survey from Carrot, 62% of Millennial women said "they would choose a job that offered a fertility benefit over a job that did not, all else being equal."
New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that fertility dropped for women in multiple age groups in 2017. More Millennial women are postponing marriage, but according to research from Demographic Intelligence, their desire for a family still increases - even as their ability to produce a child declines.
In the course of a single year, the fertility landscape can change dramatically, says Tammy Sun, co-founder and CEO of Carrot. When she froze her own eggs, she says most thought of the fertility space as "egg freezing and IVF only." Now, Carrot advises companies on embryo preservation, sperm freezing, adoption, surrogacy and other fertility services.
"I think what companies have come to really realize through the voice of their own employees is that this is a really important area of life that is deeper and more varied than people stereotypically thought," Sun says.
Because fertility costs can exceed thousands of dollars, companies previously asked employees to provide proof of necessity, says Jake Anderson, co-founder of Fertility IQ, a company helping employees connect with care providers.
"What's been traditionally done is most companies say, 'You have to prove to us you're infertile. You have to prove to us that you've been trying heterosexual intercourse and it hasn't worked, and then you have to go through a handful of low-level treatments that are unlikely to work and that are going to cost time before we give you access to IVF,'" he says. "The more broad-minded new approach is, 'We don't care if you're gay, straight, heterosexual, partnered - it's really none of our business. If you're going to go to a fertility clinic to build your family, we're going to cover it.'"
Now, with an eye to retaining female talent, some companies have lifted all price caps entirely. When Pinterest first began reimbursing egg freezing in total last year, employees even sent letters of gratitude, says Kurt Serrano, senior vice president of people at Pinterest. One woman told him she would "reconfirm her commitment with Pinterest long-term because we're in the game," Serrano says.
In addition to helping employees cover the cost of egg freezing, adoption and more, Pinterest also recently helped a gay male employee and his husband to explore how they could start a family.
"We made a decision to actually research surrogacy benefits with a $20,000 net benefit that directly enabled this employee and his husband to start a family," Serrano says. "They've gone through that process now ... and they're expecting their first child."
The benefit is about allowing employees to "bring their authentic selves to work - including their identity as parents," Serrano says. And in the future, he predicts, more companies may follow suit.
As Sun puts it, "it's a life cycle."
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