Let’s start a conversation around parental leave - how is it at your firm? Does your firm do enough to support new parents? What changes can we make in our industry to better support working parents? Share your stories and thoughts!

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Compared to what’s out there in the US, our policy is ok (8 weeks with the option to take up to 6 month off if you combine disability, family leave, PTO and LoA). That being said, it’s still not enough compared to other countries. It takes moms 18 mo before they are fully recovered (mentally and physically) so it’s difficult to expect them to come back in a few months and be on their A game. The mind is elsewhere and they are still trying to figure everything out, plus losing sleep at night because the baby is up. It’s a ridiculous burden working parents face. I’m glad that firms are finally starting to realize this and making changes to their maternity/paternity policies, but there’s still a long road ahead. We need a few firms to lead the change and offer 12 months of leave for new parents, for instance, to be on par with what the rest of 1st world countries. It doesn’t have to be all fully paid leave, but providing the option to take that time with job security be a game changer. I think we will get there because a few firms offer that now (eg., Netflix), but I look forward to the day one of the consulting companies takes the leap because the others will follow suit.

likeuplifting

Good Lord M2. You really do not know of which you speak. Many firms, if not all, have maternity leave run concurrently or is treated as FMLA, STD, and if needed LTD. Women do not get extra STD, LTD, or FMLA leave. Pregnancy and birth are treated as STD and FMLA in most cases. Just so you know, there are some cases where complications from pregnancy and/or birth do leave the woman with life long disabilities...

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We both work at Accenture and while my maternity leave is decent (16 weeks), paternal leave is awful (2 weeks). As any person who has had a baby knows, the first 8 weeks are sleep deprivation hell, moms more often than not are dealing with post partum depression, they are still hurting and recovering whether it is vaginal or c section, breastfeeding is not as easy as ppl think etc. And then to be told ‘and you have to do it alone for the most part bc you husband has to work or risk losing his job, and then comes home tired, or has to travel so you are hurting, sleep deprived and depressed but we don’t care, do it on your own’ - is just ridiculous . Not to mention it deprives fathers of the opportunity to bond more with their babies and be there to support the family and wife. It propagates the narrative that men work and women care for the kids/ house even when in this day and age both usually work. Makes me mad. If we really want Gender Equality , Dads need to have equal paternity leave to be taken as desired either during moms mat leave or after. Accenture should look to mirror Deloitte in this (can’t believe I’m saying that ;) )

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Every week travel burns out talent regardless of parental status. That needs to be reviewed and brought down.

likesmart

@Deloitte 4: I’m in Germany and we travel constantly . . . ?

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We get 16 weeks off for dads. It’s absolutely fantastic and really puts a retainer on my wife to make the lifestyle more sustainable for longer into the future. Really throughout our whole fertility, pregnancy, baby birth journey the firm has been fantastic. Can’t imagine how I would’ve lasted without the tremendous support of my leaders and teammates.

likeuplifting

Yeah the expectation around travel when returning is an insane problem. I came back when my son was 6 months old, but at that age he was still nursing to sleep, twice a night, and in the morning. I would have to set an alarm to pump in the middle of the night the few nights I was gone.

Literally any other country would still have the mom on leave, so it’s completely irrational to expect the primary caregiver to be away for 72 hours at a time.

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A Mom here. Continuing to breastfeed while traveling is awful. Horrible. And pumping at the client site is embarrassing and also horrible. I wanted to work after the first 2 months but with a schedule where I could be around my child and give them the best start. That meant being home.

Make that happen for women for at least the first year and then we can talk supporting families beyond that. But that first year is critical to mothers in particular, for recovery, for bonding, for health.

That said, I appreciated milk stork, working in town (even though my in-town leads expected me to be onsite 10 hrs a day, 5 days a week, with 1-2 hrs commuting each way, do you know, not even seeing daytime with the young one), the decent-ish 4 months off (that you can only request once the baby is out and you must request within the BUSINESS DAY! Like, wtf insurance companies?) so, when I was in labor for over a day, I technically still had to work the prior business day?

I could go on.

likesmart

I wish our company even had milk stork. I ran out of witty comebacks to comments about me traveling with a giant cooler. Plus the suuuuuper awkward TSA moments when security examines every. single. bag of breast milk in front of your male teams. So fun.

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Reading this thread, it becomes starkly apparent that people who haven't had kids just have no idea. My former self would not have understood what the big deal is with parental leave either, but after dealing with a newborn (and staying in this job, and traveling), it's totally changed my perspective.
This is also why it's important for people who have had kids to be among our firm leaders, not just as beacons of hope that it's possible, but mostly because they have the power and influence to change our business in a way that makes the most sense for parents. Because as well-meaning as others might be (and some are clearly not empathetic at all, as demonstrated by this thread), they just don't get it unless they've gone through it.

likesmart

I don’t have children but am I staunch believer in better parental leave policies ESPECIALLY for those who’ve given birth. People swear it’s only for bonding but it’s so much more than that. Childbirth can kill you! Your organs shift, you can form blood clots, complications from c-sections, suicide from postpartum, etc. it’s not just for the baby and people need more time off to heal. Mentally and physically.

Both dad and mom are eligible for parental leave and we are super supportive and actively encourage people to make use of it

Where the problems start is for young moms to get back into a schedule with travel . It’s an area where we collectively need to lobby clients to not need these folks to travel every week like usual .

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16 weeks for dads which is awesome. I've heard too many stories about being passed over for promotion to SM or Partner after taking parental leave. But that said, you never get the time back. Take it. The promotion will come at your next firm.

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EY12- It’s hard to understand this before you have kids, but priorities often change when the baby is here. Promotion might be important now but you might not care as much about it when you’re a mom. That said, continue to do good work and find supportive partners at your firm who will advocate for you. I was promoted while pregnant. I know another woman who was promoted while on maternity leave. It’s possible. While I’m thrilled with the promotion, I’d also be fine not having it, too, because priorities change and I’d rather have a more flexible work arrangement at the expense of a promotion now.

likeuplifting

I think if you start supporting parenting as a lifestyle choice, you need to actively support all other lifestyle choices or none at all.

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Literally staying at BCG for the parental leave benefits and healthcare. So their foolish, short-sighted, overpopulate-the-world strategy worked on me 💁

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I’m glad many firms have great policies, I also think there’s room for improvement. However...

To give everyone perspective, my brother and his girlfriend just had a baby. They are both factory workers. His girlfriend had to quit her job, because the company would not give her time off and didn’t want to hold her spot for her. My brother works 50 hours a week to support them, and earns about $2500 a month. That’s to put a roof over their heads, feed them, car insurance, gas, they go without health insurance because they can’t afford it. Baby is covered by Medicaid, mom was covered by Medicaid while pregnant.

There is a lot of room for improvement in our firm policies, but our country is failing its people when the situation my brother’s family is in happens.

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Totally agree. Sorry your brother had to go through that, it sounds rough Firms like ours should help set the standard for others. There’s also more the government can do but that’s a whole other rabbit hole

Another mom here. I agree that transitioning back to work is a big challenge, probably even more of an issue than the number of weeks of leave. I worked on an internal role from home for first 3 months, then did a 2 month client project remotely, so I was 5 months back to work before my first travel project. But the truth is that as much as firm leaders want to be supportive, trying to find a local or remote project is very restrictive and will definitely impact career growth, at least at a place like OW where we may not have the same volume of projects to choose from as Big4. The solution is to still do travel projects but on a more flexible travel schedule, e.g. not M-TH every week. For this to work effectively, you need genuine support from the partners and the clients, otherwise the consultant who are willing to do the M-Th weekly commute will always get preference over you.

likeupliftinghelpful

2 weeks for dad. Too short to take care my wife...

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M2: when my colleague’s parents were in a serious car crash, she got multiple weeks paid (plus more unpaid time, total 4 months) to go take care of them. When my colleague got ill and needed 6 months of medical time off, the firm covered her through a variety of programs including extended sick days, STD and LTD. When another colleague took off over a year to spend time with a parent with terminal cancer, the company held his job for him until he was ready to come back. When a young associate came back from work too soon after a death in family and realized he needed more time, extra bereavement leave was immediately granted. When my childless, unmarried manager asked to be local to attend weeknight couples counseling, the office found a project for him and the team respected his need to leave at certain times for those appointments. When many colleagues applied for leaves of absence (we have a program where you can do 2 months with no paid salary but all benefits paid), they were approved. Reasons for requesting these leaves I have heard include:
-Going skiing
-Got a new puppy and need to dog train
-Volunteering
-Round the world trip
-Visiting family overseas
-Playing tennis and doing yoga
-Training for a marathon
-Getting a personal trainer to work on core strength
-extended honeymoon
-And yes, extending parental leave

I get the sense maybe you work for a company where the benefits are marginal or else you would already be familiar with situations like this. The answer to “many people don’t get the help they need” should be “let’s get them more help to the extent possible”, not “don’t help anyone.” If we used that logic, our companies should all pay us $2/day since that is what hundreds of millions of people live on.

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If your a traveling consultant, someone else is raising your kid and if you have a spouse they are essentially single.

#truth

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I don't have kids myself. But heard coworkers stories: one's son developed separation anxiety, another one's daughter thinks her mom lives at airports.

Travel is the big issue for this industry. I recently reviewed applicants from a nation-wide search & wasn’t sent a single female. When I dug in, I learned that every qualified woman declined to move forward because the roles could require up to 80% travel. If that is the only way to make it in this industry, then we will never move beyond a massive gender imbalance at the top. It is too hard for most women to travel full time when they have small children, and especially if they’re breastfeeding.

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It seems like the Firms have made much progress on the policy front. Where I see the challenge is in execution and dependence on having an engagement and or PL who is appropriately supportive. It is important plan for the anticipated leave on the front end. Frankly the challenges many of us face go beyond child birth - they extend to juggling older children and aging parents.

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Mom here with three young kids. Deloitte is great when it comes to paid leave, and at the SM level giving you a break on metrics the 6 months post-return. I never felt slighted at year end. That said there aren’t enough role models and sponsors for working moms to feel like they have someone supporting them and helping them navigate their career post-motherhood. It’s also just plain hard to be gone so often from your children. I’ve always been open to travel while still prioritizing the important events in my kids lives (dr appts, concerts, games, teacher meeting) but I also desire to be around for the mundane every day things as well that may come on a random Tuesday. The other challenge is predictability. I usually have 3-4 projects going on at a time which requires me to be all over the place and I’m having to change my schedule last minute all the time. It’s exhausting on top of managing the needs of three kids.

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Totally agree that juggling the unpredictability and hours is the real burn now on me- and I only have two kids. As an industry, we can’t truly address the needs of working parents without addressing the hours we work and the unpredictability.

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Companies that still only offer 6 weeks of parental leave are trash.

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100 percent the firm does not do enough. My firm added an extra 2 weeks to the leave policy, but as soon as I came back - put me back on the road. Applied for internal roles explaining that I just needed a couple of years where I could work internally and not travel - but no one gave me a chance. Gave the role to people who could travel. In case people don’t know, the first three months of a baby’s life are termed the 4th trimester”. They are not bonding with you; they are fighting for survival. Right when the bonding period starts is when we need to go back to work. And one more thing: the importance of leave is much more significant for a woman than a man. Babies need their mothers (physically, biologically and emotionally) more than their dads during this time. It’s great that men have equal time off as mothers - but totally not necessary. It’s woman who need more time and more support during this monumental time in one’s life

likesmart

Maybe some people want to pretend there is no difference between a man and a woman; but I’m not. I’m a woman who pushed out two kids (one just a few months ago) and was in physical pain for weeks. I’m back at work and I’m still physically dealing with the effects. Not to mention that young babies biologically crave their mothers more. Hey, maybe it’s because we have been breathing and eating the same things for the 9 months. Real men would understand the point I am trying to drive home. It is not about the family that adopts and both parents want “bonding” time. That’s a different issue. #wokeAFbutarealist

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At PwC in a Nordic country. Maternity leave starts about two weeks before the due date, and one the baby is born dad gets two weeks off with mum. Then mum has around 8 months off, and then dad has 4 months paternity leave. This is with 100% pay, and PwC covers the gap between public benefits and our salary. Also, if we want, we have the option to take longer off for 80% of our salary, as well as unpaid leave. You cannot be let go while on leave. My office rarely does travel projects, so there’s no issue of travelling. We also get flexible working hours, an PwC guarantees a spot in a daycare they have a partnership with if the public daycare doesn’t have a space. And mum also gets a 1hr breastfeeding break each day until baby is 1 year, so when dad is home with baby they either come to work around lunchtime or mum can leave an hour early.

likeupliftingsmart

Went through two pregnancies and leaves at Deloitte. 4 months for the first, 6 months for the second. Amazing leave program for moms and a huge credit to Cathy Engelbert for making it happen. Coming back both times was challenging, Deloitte needs to focus on re-entry for returning women.

likehelpful

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