But there’s a catch to all of these work perks: many of them don’t work or don’t work as planned. Egg freezing may result in a nasty surprise for hopeful moms to be, as there’s nowhere near a 100% success rate for the procedure. Extended parental leaves look great on paper, but in reality employees rarely use all that extra time. And while IBM and other tech companies are sending breast milk home when you’re stuck at the office or travelling for work, the necessity of breast milk delivery is a result of moms not being able to take full maternity leave.
According to the New York Times, “Erin Reid, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Boston University, who gained access to workers in a large consulting firm, uncovered numerous instances in which fathers were discouraged from adjusting their schedules to accommodate parental responsibilities, coupled with a kind of disbelief that they would even entertain the idea.”
Fathers are challenging parental leave policies and discrimination in court — and they’re succeeding. Not only are companies discovering that no or shorter leave for fathers is often legally indefensible, experts are pointing to deeper, debilitating effects of such policies. Discriminating against fathers who seek work life balance also, thanks to the terrible circular logic of discrimination, impacts working mothers. The NYT points out, “by discouraging men from taking child-rearing seriously, they say, employers can effectively add to the workplace stigma of women who shoulder these responsibilities.”
What good is a work perk that you can’t put to work? As Anne-Marie Slaughter said in a recent Chatelaine interview, too often working mothers who press for work-life balance are made to feel like failures or “traitors to the cause,” and working fathers are “made to feel like wimps.” While flashy work perks may get you headlines and attention from candidates, they won’t go as far as something much simpler: flexibility and understanding.