This is the third year that Fatherly has compiled its “50 Best Places To Work For New Dads” ranking. When we did our first report in 2015, half of the American companies surveyed offered only one or two weeks of paid leave for new fathers and the United States was one of only three developed countries without a national family leave policy. Two years later, the United States still lacks a national policy — and remains unlikely to have one in the immediate future — but corporate paternity leave policies are evolving rapidly as technology leaders inspire change in other industries.
Over the course of just 24 months, the average number of paid weeks off given to new fathers went from about four to 11, a 275 percent increase. More than a quarter of the companies surveyed in 2017 offered at least six weeks, and 30 percent offered eight. Many of the companies that offered significant leave previously have doubled down even as their competitors have followed that lead.
The trend among the companies at the forefront of the paternity leave movement is toward increased length of paid leave and access to it, but only a select few companies offer more than the average number of paid weeks for new mothers. Access to parental leave will remain uneven, but it is more uneven among American companies, many of which go so far as to implement “secondary caregiver” programs.
But paternity leave is only part of the story. Companies are figuring out ways to allow new parents to better manage their time, creating flexible work options, childcare programs, and additional leave offerings designed to attract and retain employees determined to be present in the lives of their infants and children. Some 44 of the companies on this year’s 50 Best list offer flexible work hours programs.
Other companies create more flexible work hours by investing in childcare subsidies and onsite programs. Evidence of the former trend can be found in top companies in many fields, suggesting that these benefits are an emerging norm. The latter trend, on the other hand, seems to be a product of the ethos of specific corporations and how executives choose to relate to the communities that sustain their businesses.
And progress has not been limited to the C-suite or corporate headquarters. Leading companies are offering increasingly inclusive benefits packages for new parents. Amazon has extended its parental leave program to cover warehouse workers; Starbucks has extended its leave program to cover baristas; IKEA allows both salary hourly employees up to eight weeks of fully paid leave. Given research suggesting that lower wage workers have significantly less access to paid leave, steps forward by multibillion-dollar multinationals are particularly significant.
Interestingly, the divide between those with access to parental perks may ultimately have less to do with class and more to do with political geography. Only one state that voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election was home to a company that broke Fatherly‘s “50 Best.” North Carolina is home to two.
If it seems like the tech sector is far and away leading the charge for parental leave, it’s because it is. And its fairly easy to figure out why. The younger managers and leaders in the tech industry are considering policies that will effect them. They are also engaging in a benefits arms race as they recruit top talent. This is particularly true in Northern California, where venture capital injections have created a culture of aggressive expansion and–because not all startups succeed–poaching.
All that said, there has been a notable expansion of benefits offered to lawyers and consultants. Is this because these professionals increasingly work with tech firms? Perhaps, but it would be simplistic to think of paternity leave investments as a viral meme with a single identifiable source.
Fundamentally, only one thing alters the Fatherly rankings or puts new companies on the list: Decisions made at an executive level. At each of the companies on this list, someone decided that helping fathers put family first was important. At each of the companies on this list, that person was right.