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Taking employee benefits one step too far?

“The news this week that Facebook and Apple announced they will pay for female employees to freeze their eggs takes the concept of employee & lsquo;benefits’ a step too far.  Whilst Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet insists the move is designed to “empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families,” it actually feels like a rather cynical way for organisations to exert greater control over their female staff members. 

Is the real message here that these companies want to ensure their female talent isn’t distracted in any way when they are full of energy because they get more out of them at this age and that they aren’t as useful when they are older? Ironically, these companies are appealing to generation Y women – women who typically value their work life balance and who strive to create a good quality of life – for them, work isn’t the be all and end all and they certainly don’t want to be tied to one company for ever. 

Advocating employees to freeze their eggs and delay motherhood is also hugely risky and ill thought through. It is effectively playing with people’s lives. IVF often doesn’t work and can create huge disappointment, women will be also be older having children and science has shown the risks to the health of mother and baby are so much greater if this is the case.

Surely companies should be looking at better ways to support their female talent at every stage of their career – especially through maternity? Maternity is often a time when women’s careers veer off target, but companies that can manage the maternity transition well and provide the right support for them to return to the workplace and get back on track will  be those with tomorrow’s female leaders.


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