Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Family Business; the City's New Solution to Level the Gender Playing Field? Pay for Fertility Services for Staff. as Goldman Sachs Announces a Bold New Policy, Women Are Using the Benefit as a Bargaining Chip, Reports Lucy Tobin

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Family Business; the City's New Solution to Level the Gender Playing Field? Pay for Fertility Services for Staff. as Goldman Sachs Announces a Bold New Policy, Women Are Using the Benefit as a Bargaining Chip, Reports Lucy Tobin

Article excerpt

Byline: Lucy Tobin

FOR the last few years, the City has been on a PR drive: trying to give its careers a makeover and prevent a brain drain to wealthy tech giants, determined to lure the brightest graduates and retain their sharpest talent. The result is that perks have moved beyond pay -- and into family planning.

Banking was the sector which saw the vast majority of working mothers quitting after maternity leave -- usually their first, always their second -- because they wanted to see their kid(s) more than occasionally. Now, far from saying goodbye to your life outside work, for those facing fertility problems, a City job could become the most affordable route to creating new life.

Goldman Sachs is leading the charge: the "vampire squid" Wall Street bank that once gave women just two weeks off for giving birth has announced it will pay prospective parents on its payroll up to $20,000 (about PS15,500 in the UK) for fertility treatments. It says the initiative is aimed at helping same-sex couples who want to become parents, women who are struggling to conceive and those who decide to have children later in life.

It's Goldman's latest attempt to boost equality and close the pay gap between men and women. It has a long way to go, given its British business on average paid women 51 per cent less per hour than men last year.

So over the last two years the bank has also rolled out free emergency nannies for any sick children of its 6,000 UK staff, become the first UK firm to pay for breastfeeding mothers to courier expressed milk back to their babies if travelling for work, and offered to pay for its London staff to have gender-reassignment surgery and IVF treatment. The Wall Street bank is following US precedent. In the States, as many as five per cent of firms with more than 500 staff -- including Facebook, Google, Uber, Intel, eBay, Netflix, Spotify, Time Warner and Snapchat -- offer egg freezing as a benefit to female employees. It's a growing trend in London, too. Asset management giant Blackrock offers its staff up to PS15,000 for egg freezing plus up to three years of egg storage. Its spokesperson Tracy Truelove said Blackrock introduced the benefit because it's "committed to helping our employees thrive at work and in life including support for building a family."

Apple and Facebook have been offering London staff subsidised egg freezing worth up to PS16,000 for the last two years, while Japan's biggest lender, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, has an official annual leave allowance for women at its Barbican office who are going through fertility treatment. Its head of HR in Europe, John Williams, says that "providing our colleagues with a supportive environment is one of our primary aims. We appreciate that fertility treatments in particular can be very intensive. Being able to offer colleagues the opportunity to take leave is in keeping with our overall philosophy."

For many infertile women, financial fertility benefits could represent their only way to circumvent the postcode lottery of access to IVF on the NHS; egg freezing, meanwhile, is usually only available privately except for women going through fertility-affecting medical treatment, such as for cancer. The egg-freezing process, which involves daily hormone injections before a retrieval procedure, costs around PS3,500, plus egg storage costs; thawing and implantation in the womb later on can be another PS3,000.

At Goldman, employees access the firm's fertility stipend by first visiting a GP stationed inside the bank's massive PS1 billion Square Mile HQ. They're then referred to a specialist via the company's private medical scheme. They pay for their fertility costs up front, before being reimbursed. Goldman isn't imposing any tie-ins, so newly pregnant employees could leave having had their fertility bills paid, and it's offering the benefits to all staff, regardless of how long they've been at the bank.

The move was requested by staff, according to Sally Boyle, Goldman Sachs's head of HR. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.