Over the four years that Fatherly has compiled its ranking of the “50 Best Places to Work for New Dads,” much has changed. The companies on the list, all of which have more than 1000 employees, have increased their offerings for new parents. A significant number that weren’t on the list have introduced benefits that shot them up the ranks. This is all good news for the small portion of American workers that have the benefit of being employed by the elite companies on the list (and the companies that mimic their programs). However, most American men still don’t have access to paid parental leave, much less flex-time or on-site childcare, so it’s important to understand that the companies on the list are part of an exclusive club and to also understand the nature of that club.
The most heavily represented industries are technology (Google, Netflix, Microsoft, and other so-called giants have long been leading the charge on employee benefits), finance, (American Express tops the list) and legal and consulting firms, admittedly a big bucket. Companies outside of those sectors tend to be growth-oriented and talent-hungry. The Silicon Valley perks race has become a med tech and healthcare perks race as well, albeit in different parts of the country.
It is, again, worth reiterating that these are competitive companies. Most of the those on the list have highly educated workforces and several have median annual salaries greater than $100,000. The ones that don’t, notably Chobani and Ikea America, are worthy of special attention, as their programs seem to have been developed to help workers as well as to help recruit workers (though it would be wrongly cynical to assume that the larger firms on this list are not values-driven).
It is also worth noting that few of the companies on the list employ a significant number of contract or freelance workers. Part of this is a product of Fatherly’s ranking criteria, which included the application of policies to contractors, but the lack of a two-tiered employment system at companies does seem to be correlated with work/life balance-related perks.
But the strongest correlation among the companies on the list is geographical. The bulk of them are located in California, specifically in the Bay Area, or the Tri-State Area, specifically in New York City. This is not a coincidence or a purely cultural issue. Both places have legislation that requires more generous programs, which has raised the floor. As the floor has risen, the ceiling has moved as well. (Many of these companies also have a significant presence in both New York and California).
San Francisco remains the brightest of bright spots and will likely to continue to become the area in which paternity benefits are the most common among highly competitive employers. At this point, the labor market is such that paternity perks, including leave and childcare, are, if not something that potential employees expect, something about which many job seekers ask.
It’s worth noting that Boston and the state of New Jersey have become hotspots as well.
So, what sets the companies on our “50 Best” ranking apart? Fatherly based its rankings on 13 criteria, using a scoring system designed to give weight to the perks with the most practical value to new and expecting fathers. The 13 criteria were as follows: weeks of paid leave, flex-time, ramp-back time, sick days, bereavement leave, onsite childcare, childcare subsidies, backup childcare, fertility aid, adoption expenses, parents support groups, education funding, and financial planning assistance. The companies on Fatherly’s list vary quite widely in their offerings, which makes sense given that they operate in a variety of industries. Still, the common theme among the standouts is a willingness to let employees manage their own time and a demonstrable investment in family well-being.
Childcare offerings varied widely among the companies as well. Patagonia seemingly remains the best of the bunch, offering a massive program and working tirelessly to make it available to the majority of their employees. That said, an increasing number of companies are investing in on-site care — in many cases through Bright Horizons — at their headquarters in various states. It’s a heartening sign.
All in all, this year’s list looks very much like a portrait of progress. That said, that progress is still being made in the elite circles of the technology and finance industries. Until legal changes spur mass action, it seems likely that the exceptional companies on this list will remain just that — exceptions to an unfortunate rule.