Tech Companies Offer Egg-Freezing “Perks”
It is not uncommon for us to hear of (or be one of those) people who choose to establish their career before they even contemplate starting a family. As a result, more and more people are starting families later in life.
This, of course, is not a bad thing. But something to take into consideration is that the older a person is, often the harder it is for them to conceive or have a problem-free pregnancy. This is down to egg and sperm viability, hormone production, etc.
Especially in the male-dominated technology industry (of which some of the biggest firms have less than a two-to-one male-to-female employee ratio), women are working later and later into life before settling down because they find it harder to get a grasp on their career after maternity leave.
Since the beginning of this year, however, Facebook has been offering egg freezing to its female employees in the US the option of freezing their eggs. The aim has been to attract the best candidates for work, without forcing them to choose between their career path and a family.
While it might appear that this is a way for the company to prevent “losing” staff to the joys of parenthood, Facebook also offers benefits to those who choose the family route as well. For example, new parents can enjoy four months of paid maternity or paternity leave, and each child who is born or adopted is given a “cash gift” of $4,000 (£2,500).
And now, Apple is following suit, starting up its own egg-freezing offer from January next year.
“We want to empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families,” the company said in a statement.
Both Facebook and Apple are offering their US female staff up to $20,000 (£12,500) to finance the egg-extraction procedure and egg storage, all covered by their insurance plans.
“We continue to expand our benefits for women, with a new extended maternity leave policy,” Apple’s statement read, “along with cryopreservation and egg storage as part of our extensive support for infertility treatment.” The statement pointed out that the company also offers adoption assistance.
The competition for recruiting talented staff in the technology industry has become increasingly fierce over the last couple of years, with firms aiming to hire the best candidates for the roles while also increasing diversity.
“Egg freezing gives women more control,” said Jennifer Tye, Glow head of marketing, who is welcoming the policies. Glow is a tech company that offers women services to help manage their reproductive health, including a mobile app. “These employers should be commended.”
However, not everyone shares Ms Tye’s views on the controversial matter, with some people saying that the egg-freezing option is just another way to psychologically pressure women to work for longer before they start a family. These people believe that more focus should be aimed at revamping the maternity and paternity work policies.
But perhaps the egg-freezing option could be viewed as a sort of insurance for women who have already decided they want to start a family later in life. Or maybe as another step towards professional equality.
As long as people deciding to take the companies up on their offers fully understand the risks as well as the benefits of undergoing such a procedure, they are entitled to make their own choices for the future. And Facebook and Apple seem to be trying to help make it more possible for them to do so.
The companies are at least looking into more diverse ways of offering their employees more freedom in their personal life outside of the workplace, and could encourage other firms to do the same.