Pregnancy Is Opening One Female CEO’s Eyes to How Hard Parenting Can Be
We all know one of “those” employees or bosses–you know, the kind that insists pregnancy and parenting won't change them, or that, at the most, it will only have a minimal impact on their lives to have a child. In their mind, they will somehow handle things better than the thousands of parents before them who have struggled, because they will be smarter about it, or work harder, or plan better, or something.
And then, reality hits.
You really don't want to say anything like “I told you so,” because really, we're all in this crazy journey of parenting together, but at the same time, it is sort of validating when you see someone who swore they would be a better parent than you realize how freaking hard it can be, because it makes you realize that it's not just you–it really is the unpredictable nature of life with kids. I mean, you can plan all you want, and have all the resources in the world, and have all the help lined up, and still end up with an emergency during your labor, postpartum complications, a baby with colic who won't stop screaming, and a million other things that seem to be completely out of your control. And as a parent, you kick into survival mode and try to deal with them one-on-one, while realizing, holy crap, there was no way anyone could plan for any of this.
And that's kind of the point, right?
One boss of a major company has definitely had her eyes opened to just how much pregnancy and parenting can change her life–but thankfully, she is also majorly changing her own company to better support the parents that work for her. Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder and CEO of Bumble, recently announced some big changes to the company, after she revealed that even just being pregnant herself has opened her eyes to the drastic need to support working parents in and out of the office.
In fact, at first glance, Bumble's offerings and commitment to working parents looks pretty darn generous to start out with. They offer a four month, paid leave, as well as a $1,000 childcare bonus. And not only do they offer paid leave, but parents have the option to spread that time out over a year if they decide they want to come back to work early and bank some of their leave for things like unexpected sick days. Traveling moms who are breastfeeding can also get reimbursed for services that ship breast milk back home to their babies while they are traveling, and the company pays for an app that offers counseling services, among other forms of postpartum support for mothers and parents.
But even as generous as all of that sounds, Herd is blazing a trail to do even more for parents–especially because pregnancy has opened her eyes to the scheduling conflicts that arise when you suddenly are responsible for another human being besides just yourself.
“Now that I myself am pregnant, I understand, just from the basic demands of needing to go to a doctor’s appointment on a certain week, that I can’t imagine the stress that someone might feel who can’t make their own hours,” she told Fast Company. “So many CEOs think about parenting within the context of maternity-paternity leave, but that’s kind of where it stops. But there are nine months of pre-paternity or pre-maternity. Then there’s everything that comes after. So I’m really starting to think about the white space on the beforehand and after-hand of that actual leave. And making sure that once a parent does come back to work, how do we do that in a flexible way?”
To do that, Herd is adding on-site childcare (especially for all those pesky times when school is closed, like spring break), offering additional stipends for things like childcare or even tutoring, and brainstorming with parents at her workforce to ensure Bumble is as parent-friendly as possible. Honestly, her efforts are incredibly commendable and here's hoping that other CEOs and companies will take notice and enact their own truly parent-family focused policies, too. Because all employees deserve to feel supported in the workplace and the days of apologizing for being a parent may officially be coming to a close. (A mom can dream, right?)