At its heart, Pride Month is about driving impactful, positive change that lasts. To honour this, global employment and HR expert Remote is calling for companies to implement actionable benefits that create more equitable workplaces – this year focusing on a call for inclusive parental leave policies.
Inclusive parental leave policies should specifically support all new parents as much as possible, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, tenure, or how a child joins the family, including by adoption or surrogacy.
To dig deeper into the experiences of parental leave, Remote surveyed 5,708 full-time employees across 11 markets and 544 employers in the UK and US to see if there truly is pride in parenting across workplaces.
Research* showed that 39% of employees think their company should do more to make their parental leave policy more inclusive. These inclusive parenting policies are vital for people in the LGBTQIA+ community as they are more likely to face indirect discrimination if inclusive parenting initiatives are not in place, so what can employers do to ensure this is not the case?
What does inclusivity in parental leave policy look like?
47% of Remote’s poll said they believe an inclusive parental leave policy means having a gender-neutral approach. This would empower fair parental support across all genders and sexual orientations, avoiding discrimination based on your family makeup.
Over half (51%) of workers believe an inclusive parental leave policy means giving same-sex couples the same leave as different-sex couples, and 53% of employees believe it means giving adoptive couples the same leave as birth parents.
What can companies do to ensure their parental leave policies are inclusive?
6 Ways To Make Your Parental Leave Policies More Inclusive For LGBTQIA+ Communities
1. Provide parental leave to everyone, not just longtime employees: It’s vital that organizations create an even footing for all and this includes parental leave policies. Everyone should be entitled to leave and support, not just long-term employees and these policies should be clearly outlined to all employees, regardless of gender, sexuality or time spent at the company. Managers should look to understand the family dynamic of new employees joining their teams and offer the same levels of parental support for any new team members who are parents. It is vital that these messages are fairly shared with all employees, regardless of gender, to remove any stigma or stereotyping and ensure all parents feel supported.
2. Offer flexible working: Eliminating rigid work schedules provides everyone on the team with a greater amount of flexibility, and it’s especially valuable for parents seeking to work around commitments such as school pick-ups and appointments (such as adoption meetings). Incorporating flexible scheduling will enable employees to adapt their schedules to fit their family needs and fulfill their work commitments. It is important that flexible working is offered equally to everyone and that the assumption of “primary caregiver” is not made based on gender to maintain equity across all genders and ensure same-sex couples feel included.
3. Giving equal time off for adoption leave: Allowing adoptive parents to have the same amount of leave as any other parent is crucial to parental leave inclusivity, this also includes allowing them time off to attend adoption appointments. This inclusion should be explicitly written into your policies so that adoptive parents don’t need to feel uncertain about their leave entitlement. Doing so will make your organization a fairer, more inviting space for all families, especially those in the LGBTQIA+ community who are more likely to explore the adoption process.
4. Offer a transition period: A transition period allows new parents to go part-time for 1-2 weeks before they fully sign off for leave as well as the first couple weeks back, ensuring they can fully adjust to new routines and mindsets. These policies should be open to all new parents, not just those who have carried a child through pregnancy, this message should be clear for all employees and written in inclusive, non-gender specific language so all new parents are aware of the benefits open to them.
5. Offer assistance with childcare costs as a benefit: Childcare costs can often be a challenging area for parents, with a quarter of Remote’s survey saying they struggled to afford childcare costs. To improve inclusivity, companies should consider offering childcare stipends or programs and signing up for local childcare services for all employees who are parents. These policies should be written in inclusive language, welcoming all parents and ensuring LGBTQIA+ parents have clarity over the support available to them so they don’t feel the need to check with managers or HR to see if they are eligible.
6. Offer generous breastfeeding policies: Breastfeeding is an important part of parenting for many individuals, and strong breastfeeding policies, written in gender-inclusive language, will show support to those who wish to breastfeed. Such a policy includes flexibility for breastfeeding breaks and access to comfortable non-gendered breastfeeding rooms for those who need to feed or pump while in the office.
While inclusive parenting policies will support all employees, they are critically important to people within the LGBTQIA+ community. In the U.S., 21% of same-sex couples with children have adopted children versus less than 3% of opposite-sex couples with children. Therefore, inclusive policies for parental leave for adoption or surrogacy, and work flexibility to attend appointments (such as adoption meetings) are especially poignant for LGBTQIA+ parents. Not offering such policies creates indirect discrimination against parents within this community.
Amanda Day, Director of People Enablement at Remote, explains why flexibility is key for inclusive parental policies: “In a world in which we always strive to be more inclusive and intentional about including all genders, parental leave is a key area of focus. Parental leave covers all aspects of becoming a parent, without referencing a specific gender. It also implies that any parent with a child under one year old can take parental leave, without making assumptions of who will be taking care of the child. Flexibility and choice matter most to employees.
“Importantly, allowing parents to go part-time before and after parental leave helps them to readjust to the upcoming changes, and ease themselves into their new routine. This can help effectively prepare, and it allows employees to build confidence when returning to the workplace.”
Valuing Parenting Pays Back: Employers Benefit From Inclusive Parental Policies
Remote’s research outlined the core benefits employers recognize when offering more inclusive parental policies. The survey showed 70% of employers from the UK and the US said having inclusive leave policies in place for parents helps attract and retain diverse employees. A further 66% of employers said these policies help to attract and retain top-performing employees. If you value your employees and their commitments outside of work, this value is highly likely to be paid back into your organization through loyalty, commitment, trust, and consistency which will all drive your company forward.
Remote’s Chief People Officer, Barbara Matthews affirms: “Showing pride and respect for parenting through inclusive parental policies will not only bolster your employees’ personal lives but will directly pay back into the success of your company.”
Furthermore, not having an inclusive parental leave policy and culture could actively harm your company’s progression. 47% of workers surveyed said they would decline a job offer if the company’s policies did not meet their expectations, highlighting the importance of a strong employer-to-employee value exchange.
One U.S. study from 2021 highlighted that more than one-third of LGBTQIA+ employees said they have left a job because of how they were treated by their employer based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Hence, having appropriate policies for inclusivity and equality in place is crucial for valuing and maintaining top talent from across the community.
Plus, the benefits of inclusive parenting policies work both ways. According to employers, the key benefits of inclusive parenting policies include attracting and retaining talent, promoting a gender balance in caregiving at home and in equity in the workplace, and boosting company culture.
Remote’s Chief People Officer, Barbara Matthews hails inclusive parental policies as an actionable step for companies looking to improve their organization’s inclusivity:
“Cementing your company culture and values in inclusive workplace policies is one of the best ways organizations demonstrate their allyship, support, and acceptance of all employees. Inclusive parenting is a core area for consideration here, as unfortunately, parental leave and accommodation can often vary based on gender, sexual orientation, parental arrangements through adoption or surrogacy, and time spent at a company – this needs to change. Fully inclusive policies will empower parents to access leave no matter their gender or route into parenthood, something which is particularly important for our LGBTQIA+ colleagues. At Remote, all global employees enjoy inclusive parental leave and support policies which are clearly outlined in each employee’s onboarding.
“As our study highlights, valuing all parents directly benefits each organization by improving employee wellbeing, attracting and retaining top talent, and fostering excellent company culture. It’s time to see organizations place their pride in parenting and support their teams across their personal and work lives. Pride Month is a perfect opportunity for organizations to review their parental leave policies and ensure that they are offering fair opportunities across all genders, offering equal leave to parents from adoption or surrogacy, and building flexibility for all parents to succeed both in their work roles and as caregivers.”