Naomi Yarimi, our Finance Director, was expecting, and asked a question about our parental leave policy. It turned into a broader conversation, and then a research project, and then a decision to create a comprehensive parental leave policy that we hope makes Blue State Digital an even better place to work.
It’s the subject of a short piece by Inc. Magazine just now, so I thought I’d elaborate a bit on how we got here.
This has been a year of transformation for BSD. Naomi’s question came during a 100-day review of all aspects of our company after I became BSD’s first-ever CEO in January. Ad hoc teams made up of people from all parts of the company examined, dissected, brainstormed and built out new or improved approaches to the work we do, how we do it, and how we think and talk about that work in the wider world.
One of the threads of this 100-day process was the realization that strangely, for people who obsess about digital end-user experience on behalf of our clients, we had for years neglected the end-user experience of working at BSD. And one of the concrete changes I’m most proud of in this area is our new parental leave policy.
As a young company with many young staff, parental leave had not been raised frequently as a top concern. We had a few new Dads in 2012, and the basic policy in place was two weeks of parental leave, plus whatever saved up PTO/vacation time you had that you wanted to tack on. That was pretty much it.
But a few of our women leaders here put the policy on the radar during the 100-day review process, and so we dug in. They put together an overview of comparable companies and their policies, which helped bring into relief the various levers of how to provide a comprehensive package.
Benefits packages can be complicated, but some seemed needlessly so. Ultimately we decided to take the best of what we found and add to it, to make it more generous, simpler to understand and implement, and more human in its approach.
Here’s the breakdown…
- Parents get two weeks paid leave.
- Use your additional vacation/PTO as you choose.
- Six weeks is the new two weeks — that is, six weeks minimum for Moms and Dads.
- That six weeks goes up by three additional weeks for every year you’re at BSD — so up to 12 total weeks of paid leave if you’ve been here for two years.
- We also added a short-term disability policy — which for Moms, at the direction of a doctor, can be combined with the parental leave time, for even more paid time off at full salary.
- All of this can be used in one big chunk or broken up into bits, any time during the first year after a birth or adoption.
Incidentally, the short-term disability policy also provides coverage if people of either gender find themselves in difficult health circumstances, whether related to having a baby or crashing your hipster motorbike.
This is, of course, my lay-person’s rendition (though our HR guru has approved this message). There are a bunch of details on all of this, and we have taken care to make sure that when you dig in and understand the details as an employee or prospective employee, and compare it to others, the policy is even more impressive.
No matter how big we get, or how smartly we run this business, our commitment to a balanced portfolio of advocacy groups, nonprofits and select brands has real consequences for the bottom line. We’re not usually going to be able to match other, strictly-commercial firms on salary or traditional perks. And the fast-moving worlds we work in will always mean asking people to work a little harder and faster than a typical job, and to be a little more entrepreneurial than folks at a typical company.
So those who decide to come here must necessarily share a sense of commitment to our purpose and our culture, to being a special kind of workplace, and to bringing a unique point of view and set of experience to our clients.
Therefore, if you’re willing to take the leap (and you can survive our ever-more-thorough hiring process, another product of the 100-day efforts) to devote your energies to BSD for the long haul, we want to show that BSD is committed to you for the long haul as well. There’s a place here for people at all stages of life. And we’re going to be looking for more opportunities to show that as we grow.
Here are photos of a few BSD babies that have gotten to spend more quality time with their parents since we made this change: