Domo Proves that Generous Maternity Leave Is Good Business

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In recent months, companies like Netflix and Google have set the standard for maternity and paternity leave policies by launching generous packages and lengthy leaves. Domo, a 5-year-old startup, is proving that small brands can stand up to the big boys when it comes to offering competitive policies and benefits.
Employee Engagement Strategies

In recent months, companies like Netflix and Google have set the standard for maternity and paternity leave policies by launching generous packages and lengthy leaves. Domo, a 5-year-old startup, is proving that small brands can stand up to the big boys when it comes to offering competitive policies and benefits.

A sampling of Domo's "Family First" maternity and paternity benefits includes:

- 12 weeks paid maternity leave
- 2 weeks paid paternity leave
- Baby Bucks: a $1,000 benefit to all soon-to-be parents
- A $2,000 maternity wardrobe makeover for expectant mothers
- Annual contributions to health saving accounts of expectant families to help cover insurance deductibles.
- Access to Glow, a family planning mobile app

With attention mounting on this critical societal and employee issue, I spoke to Cathy Donahue, Domo's vice president of HR, last week to discuss the company's maternity and paternity leave policies and how having a generous package correlates to high employee retention, as well as how this topic will play out in the upcoming presidential election.

What's your employee retention and can you attribute any high results to your generous benefits? Does it also go far in attracting quality employees?

In Utah our demographic is different than Silicon Valley. Our average age is 34 and average number of children is three. When they see this benefits package it's one of those things that is attractive to this demographic in Utah. It's definitely an attraction and retention piece. Our involuntary turnover is very low.

Who at Domo was behind this policy?

It was Founder and CEO Josh James' idea. When he started the company, he asked, "What do you think of doing this maternity benefit?" It's a great opportunity for women to feel supportive in the workplace at a time when I don't think they feel that way.

What do you think of the current lack of universal coverage in the U.S.?

It's hard to legislate morality. Sometimes companies have to do the right thing. I think smart companies quite honestly adopt the right benefits that they know benefit their workforce. It is good business and people who are smart in business recognize that.

Lately, behemoths like Netflix and Google have been praised for their generous maternity leave plans. You've proven that small companies can also offer generous packages. How did you make it work?

Josh has six children. He gets it. He said, let's do paid paternity leave. I remember when we rolled it out...he explained how it isn't two weeks additional vacation. It's to support the family. When we support the family, we support the employee and transition through key moments in their lives. The collective experience of having a family...how do we embrace that? If we were in the Bay area, there are other benefits there that might be more attractive. Companies in Denver may want to have a generous pet policy. One size doesn't fit all. That's the philosophy we have and we ensure we're embracing that with everyone.

What's your advice to other companies that may be on the fence about expanding their maternity/paternity coverage? What are some small steps they can take in improving their benefits?

This is a big deal. Our paternity leave is a couple weeks but it go a long way. When you do that, there's a give and take with employees. There's a symbiotic relationship. No one abuses this and they take it seriously. One of the easiest things companies can do is to give a couple weeks paternity leave. How rich you are in your benefits program has to do with the finances of the company. In Utah, we have 3 percent unemployment across all sectors and in technology it's just 1 percent so having benefits in that type of labor market definitely has some financial value.

How do you think the landscape for this issue will play out over the course of next year given that this topic is on the platform for a couple presidential candidates?

I think there will be a lot of conversations about this and around changing the legislation. I don't think we'll see legislation change until after the election. It will be better for the marketplace to figure it out ourselves rather than legislate it, but some companies need legislation to get on board.

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