Find yourself an employer that values your pregnancy
As I sit here trying to write something strictly about fintech, there’s only one thing on my mind: how important it is to have an employer that truly values pregnant employees.
And while at first, I didn’t think this was really fintech, so much of fintech has preached being a force for good. There seems to be a good amount of overlap there, especially since a large number of employees are in or nearing child-birthing years, and being able to take care of them is so important. Not just financially, but from an emotional and mental standpoint too.
Keep in mind that I’m coming at this from a US perspective since that’s what I’ve experienced. This would vary if I was living in Canada, the UK, Australia etc. I’m also not just talking about paid leave, which is still atrocious in the US despite it being 2022 (only 40% of employers offer paid maternity leave and there is no government programme).
Putting financials (mostly) to the side, I’m talking about the emotional and career components. Before becoming pregnant (hello third trimester!), I was honestly pretty clueless. I’d done a bit of research and had a few friends that had children, but nothing prepares you for what it’s actually like to be pregnant. That’s partly because every experience varies, and partly because it’s honestly an out-of-body experience the whole way through.
...nothing prepares you for what it’s actually like to be pregnant.
I started working at Orum, a payments company, in early March 2022. On 27th March, I had a positive pregnancy test. Around the same time, one of my good friends also had a positive test. While I told my manager, our CEO and a few others at work right away, my friend kept it a secret for as long as she could. Why? She was going to be up for promotion around her 20-week mark and didn’t want her pregnancy to ‘get in the way’ of that.
I haven’t worried about this once. About a month before my manager went on maternity leave, she got an off-cycle promotion (meaning Orum went out of its way to pay her more while she was on leave vs. waiting until she got back). That really stuck with me and showed my company truly cared. What’s more, just over 60% of my co-workers are female, with a number of them either being pregnant or having young kids. The amount of advice I’ve received from my co-workers has been incredible.
Another company that does a great job here is Alloy. The team offers 16 weeks of leave for all new parents that have been with the company for 6 months or longer. They also do little things that end up meaning a lot, like a team baby gift from the parent’s registry and $200 in Seamless meal credits to the family for their first month to welcome the newborn and support the transition. HR also works closely with leaders and managers to communicate our benefits and support for new parents and the steps they need to take to comfortably prepare for leave. Trust me when I say that this is extremely helpful.
While some women are lucky and have relatively easy, uncomplicated pregnancies, that was not me. I had a pretty rough first trimester (nausea, exhaustion and hormones). Those that know me know that I truly love giving 110% in my career, and pregnancy took that away from me. My body was obviously still working very hard, but mentally I just wasn’t able to give it my all most days in a role I had just started a month earlier. My manager was quick to say that whatever my best was at that time was more than enough and that we could scale back the number of things on my plate whenever I needed.
...I truly love giving 110% in my career, and pregnancy took that away from me.
Outside of being an employee, you could also tie this into being a founder and being pregnant. I think of women in fintech like Alexa von Tobel of LearnVest, who gave birth a few days after she sold LearnVest to Northwestern Mutual. Or Laura Spiekerman of Alloy, who found out she was pregnant around the same time Alloy was thinking about raising a new round of funding. I remember Laura telling me how stressed she was about it. Thankfully, Alloy has some amazing investors. When she told Victoria Treyger from Felicis Ventures, for instance, she immediately sent her books about pregnancy and how to get babies to sleep, without asking a thing about her postpartum Alloy plans.
It’s not just companies that must treat pregnant employees well - investors, board members and fellow executives need to be understanding and supportive.
There should never be concern over making sure the Zoom screen doesn’t show your pregnant belly. There should never be a concern over mentioning your pregnancy and the time off you’re entitled to at a board meeting. There should never be concern that someone won’t give you funding if they know you’d like to start a family someday.
The only concern should be taking care of yourself and the child growing inside of you, and that’s something your employer should 100% support.