Why Leaders Should Start Talking about Fertility and Flexibility

February 22, 2018 / TAKE A STAND

Why Leaders Should Start Talking about Fertility and Flexibility

February 22, 2018

Katie Burke VP of Culture and Experience, Hubspot

Katie Burke is the VP of Culture and Experience at HubSpot. Read more from the HubSpot team or follow Katie below on Twitter.

In December, I stood up in front of our 2000 person company and talked about fertility. I could lie and say it all went perfectly, but it didn’t. I stumbled over a few points. I turned a mildly embarrassing shade of pink. And I confessed that years of Catholic school left me woefully unprepared for this moment in my career.

So trust me when I say that talking about fertility at work takes some getting used to.
It’s awkward. It feels like a throwback to 7th grade sex education for managers and employees alike. It comes with wanting to do right by single parents, adoptive parents, and LGBTQ colleagues, so you want to make the terminology and approach as inclusive as possible. And then there is the uncertainty about legal, social, and geopolitical norms. Fertility is a tough topic, and so most leaders say nothing at all.

But I didn’t force myself to awkwardly stumble through this topic just for fun. I did this because I believe that fertility is quickly becoming one of the biggest differentiators in corporate benefits and a topic near and dear to the hearts of candidates and employees alike.

Why leaders should be talking about family, fertility, and flexibility

Studies show 50 million people worldwide experience infertility and 6 out of 10 couples say they keep infertility challenges away from even their family and friends. Similarly, a whopping two thirds of the American workforce wants more flexibility and yet there’s a stigma attached to both requesting and taking advantage of flexible work arrangements.

The data for both flexibility and fertility sends a clear message: there’s a huge percentage of people globally who want to grow their families and are struggling to do so. And when they are successful in growing their families, they’re struggling to balance career and family in a way that works for them.

Topics around family, flexibility, and fertility are top of mind to many of our employees. And as leaders, it’s time to get over ourselves and start the conversation.

Our director of recruiting recently shared her family’s personal story about struggling with infertility, and was amazed by the number of employees, candidates, customers, and partners (of all genders and backgrounds) who reached out with their support, personal experiences, and ideas to help us improve what we offer and how we support employees with fertility.

Talking about family, flexibility, and fertility takes some getting used to, but it’s important enough to make it worth powering through the discomfort. Why? Two words: Recruiting & Retention.

A recent study by Fractl found that on the list of benefits that matter significantly to employees, flexibility represents four of the five top consideration factors, and top notch medical care and paid parental leave rank highly on what employees care most about.

Leading your recruiting & retention efforts by talking about how your company supports families is a big opportunity for companies to get an edge on attracting and retaining the best talent.

And the best talent isn’t just ambitious college grads from Ivy League schools. Finding the best talent means a willingness and commitment identifying and developing great leaders beyond campus job fairs and inbound applications:

Infusing your workplace with flexibility for everyone can help close the gender gap but the potential impact extends beyond gender. If you care about building a talented workforce that is diverse, inclusive, and successful then benefits that target family, flexibility, and fertility should be a key part of your strategy.

Starting the conversation

My first (and awkward) foray into talking to our company about fertility was announcing that HubSpot is expanding its parental leave and rolling out benefits to help cover the costs of egg freezing. But even if your company can’t offer these types of benefits, leaders should still be having this conversation.

You’ll say some things wrong.
You might even do a little blushing.
But my colleagues responded with kindness…yours will too.

Read more from Katie.

Original post on ThinkGrowth.

Katie Burke VP of Culture and Experience, Hubspot

Katie Burke is the VP of Culture and Experience at HubSpot. Read more from the HubSpot team or follow Katie below on Twitter.

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