When Georgene Huang was pregnant and looking to switch jobs, she found herself in an unusual position. She wanted to know the maternity leave policies of the companies to which she was applying. But the vast majority of companies do not disclose this information publicly. And roughly 80 percent of working women think that it's bad form to ask about maternity leave policies during an interview. So how could she know which companies had leave policies that matched her work-family goals?
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Because she couldn't find the information she was looking for, Huang decided to skip the job search and find a way for more women to get answers to these questions.
“I knew I wanted to look at a place where women would be treated fairly, where I thought I could have the kind of work culture I believe in…but a lot of the questions I had, I couldn’t find answers,” Huang told Fortune.
She partnered with Romy Newman, former head of digital advertising at the Wall Street Journal, to create Fairygodboss — an online platform where women can compare the maternity leave policies from thousands of companies.
The data behind Fairygodboss' online maternity leave resource information comes from anonymous posters and crowd-source data. When employees report differing policies, the database includes a range of possibilities. After all, it's not unusual for companies to vary their leave policies based on performance and/or tenure.
Huang told Quartz that a mention on the database has also prompted some companies to reach out to clarify their policies.
“It’s a messy benefit,” Huang added. Aside from the federal requirement for companies with more than 50 employees to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, there are huge discrepancies in the kinds of benefits offered to pregnant women.
At one end of the spectrum, companies such as Netflix are offering as much as 52 weeks of paid maternity leave and unlimited unpaid leave for new moms and dads. At the other end, there are hundreds of companies that offer only the 12 weeks of unpaid leave required by the FMLA.
Thanks to Fairygodboss, women can look into these policies before they submit their resumé. And the transparency of the site might even help companies improve their maternity leave policies to stay in step with those offered by the competition.
And that's a big win for women.