BUSINESS

Parental Leave Revolution Moves From Tech To Banking

Credit Suisse offers 20 weeks of paid leave, citing competition from technology companies.
Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg with his pregnant wife, Priscilla Chan. The tech giant will now offer four months of
Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg with his pregnant wife, Priscilla Chan. The tech giant will now offer four months of paternity leave to new dads at the company.

As tech companies like Facebook, Netflix and Spotify up the ante on parental leave benefits, they're putting pressure on the staid world of banking to do the same.

Credit Suisse announced Monday that it would begin offering all of its U.S. employees 20 weeks of paid maternity leave. Previously, the Zurich-based bank had offered 12 weeks paid plus eight weeks unpaid leave to its 8,300 U.S. employees.

The company also announced it would pay for new parents to bring a nanny with them if they had to travel for business in the first 12 months of their child's life.

Competition from increasingly enlightened tech firms drove the change, said Elizabeth Donnelly, Credit Suisse's head of benefits for the Americas. "We're no longer just competing with other financial services firms," she told The Huffington Post.

You hear tech companies talk a lot about game-changing disruption. There are endless examples: Uber "disrupted" the taxi industrySeamless made calling for pizza obsolete, Netflix changed the way we watch television. Less discussed is the way tech is starting to change and improve how new parents get treated at work -- at least at certain high-end employers.

Giving employees at well-paid, white-collar jobs more maternity and paternity leave is the new hotness of 2015.

The same day Credit Suisse announced it would beef up leave, Facebook said it would offer four months' paternity leave to all dads worldwide -- previously, just male employees in the U.S. had the benefit.

Also this year, Netflix gave 12 months parental leave to employees that work in its streaming business. Spotify gave six months of leave to its U.S. employees. Amazon, Microsoft and Adobe also increased their leave allowances this year. 

In banking, Goldman Sachs increased paid maternity leave to 16 weeks, Donnelly pointed out. Most of Credit Suisse's competitors offer about 12 weeks. "We didn't necessarily want to mimic other banks," she said.

As for the "gilded" nanny perk, elite private equity firm KKR announced a similar benefit in August, as part of an effort to attract more women to the old-line firm. Only 13 percent of KKR's employees are women.

Women in finance face many of the same issues as women in tech -- feeling like you've just walked in on a boys' party, etc. -- especially at the elite investing and private equity firms.  While there's parity in the lower ranks in the finance industry, as you move up women start to disappear, according to data from the nonprofit women's advocacy group Catalyst

There's only one woman, out of 13 of people, heading up one Credit Suisse's regional offices in the U.S. 

Credit Suisse's new policy is also distinctive because it gives employees a year to take time off. All primary caregivers, including same-sex and adoptive parents, are eligible for the leave and can take it within the first year of a child's arrival. That means a man working at Credit Suisse can take 20 weeks off, after his employed spouse takes her maternity leave from her job. That's a huge win for a dual-income family -- essentially doubling the amount of time a baby gets to bond with her parents at home.

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