Susan Wojcicki wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal earlier this week making a pretty good case for longer, paid maternity leave. The YouTube CEO is a bit of a trailblazer in the tech industry, she joined Google while it was still a start up and, more interestingly, while she was four months pregnant. Wojcicki cited a paper from the California-based Center for Economic and Policy Research that found that 91% of business said that California's paid leave policy had a positive effect on profitability.
Wojcicki, who was the first Google employee to go on maternity leave, says she's seen the positive effects of longer maternity leave firsthand:
That last point is one we've seen at Google. When we increased paid maternity leave to 18 from 12 weeks in 2007, the rate at which new moms left Google fell by 50%. (We also increased paternity leave to 12 weeks from seven, as we know that also has a positive effect on families and our business.) Mothers were able to take the time they needed to bond with their babies and return to their jobs feeling confident and ready. And it's much better for Google's bottom line—to avoid costly turnover, and to retain the valued expertise, skills and perspective of our employees who are mothers.
Best of all, mothers come back to the workforce with new insights. I know from experience that being a mother gave me a broader sense of purpose, more compassion and a better ability to prioritize and get things done efficiently.
Imagine that, maternity leave is good for new mothers, babies and business. It's currently estimated that only 12% of private employees and 5% of low-income workers have access to maternity leave. And in case you forgot, the United States remains the only "industrialized nation" without government-mandated maternity leave.
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