Take the one with the best benefits. My dad gave me that advice when I was faced with the enviable position of choosing which job to accept after college. The advice struck me because it was not on my radar at all. It didn’t influence me much at the time, but it did in the long run. Benefits like health insurance, savings plans, and retirement plans become more important every year of our lives. Lately baby benefits are making news. They come with good intentions to be sure, but they are a privilege nonetheless.
Baby benefits are a growing trend in large corporations and provide various financial incentives, insurance, and other accommodations for family building. Young women are already looking at jobs considering when they plan to have children. More often it is with the idea that they will postpone having a family until they feel they are established. So why not take the job that helps ensure you can have a baby whenever you want?
That sounds wonderful. What an amazing corporate citizen to help women in the work place, to support family building for men and women, and to be family focused as an organization. However, what message is this sending to people who don’t have those jobs and benefits? That’s most of us.
At a recent conference, one of the brainstorming topics was the growth of entrepreneurial endeavors that help companies provide fertility benefits to their employees. Hurray. It is about time that someone realized the connection between women, families, the workplace, and the need for full reproductive and family care. However, woe is us that we keep weaving family building into the fabric of business and not part of our culture. These endeavors are replacing the insurance industry – just as fertility clinics operate outside of most hospitals – because our culture has not made reproduction a part of any social policy. To be clear, outside of birth control, family building it is not part of insurance legislation, employment legislation, or conversations about inclusion and equity. The baby benefit is a business response to a social issue that isn’t being addressed otherwise.
Thank you to these innovative leaders who are responding to a need. Thank you also to the companies who see that supporting families benefits the bottom line and their employees. That is perhaps a move towards social responsibility. A healthy doubt about the insurance industry’s ability to navigate fertility or our government’s ability to legislate family friendly policies is warranted. But can we also ensure this does not create a have vs have not culture for baby benefits? Can we make sure this approach doesn’t effectively privatize fertility insurance? Can we consider the effects on small business and just about everyone else? What about the attempts to change the system and make healthcare include proper reproductive care? We cannot ignore the larger need for family planning and support.
Perhaps the introduction of business backed #BabyBenefits can be the beginning of a change in our social policy. People certainly will want to work at companies that offer good benefits. But the real success comes with #BabyBenefitsForAll.