What's the real story here?

I feel like I live in a world where nuance is dead. Everyone seems to busy taking positions on everything – including me – that sometimes we forget all about reasoned debate, or about actually arming ourselves with all the facts. Take for instance the recent decision by apple and facebook to pay for female employees who choose to freeze their eggs. Predictably, everyone including me reacted with disbelief and mutters about how companies thought the best way to get employee loyalty was to pay for them to put off critical life moments.

However when I thought about it a little more, I realized that I don’t know whether this is over and above fair or generous parental/ maternity-paternity leave policies. Possibly it is, in which case this is an additional move targeted at helping employees find the way that works best for them. Not everyone wants to have a baby in their 20s and 30s, and if some people want to freeze their eggs and wait for the right timing, and the company is willing to pay for it, great!

My sister’s firm in the US, for example, has a health insurance policy that pays for employees who want a sex change operation. Now does this policy mean that the company is encouraging everyone to change from he to she or vice versa? Of course not. But if an employee so wishes, the company is willing to help him or her out. Which is a great HR policy.

My issue with apple and facebook’s new policy would be if this were in lieu of good parental leave policies, in which case these companies are clearly taking a misguided shot at what they think will best motivate talented women to stay on. As of now I don’t know – maybe in the interests of good PR, these companies should make that public knowledge?


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