EDIT: Let's call the company by name indeed.
What's a state of affairs we can reach such that people don't become preemptively discriminatory for lack of being able to examine factors that would impact workplace performance? We agree, societally, that we shouldn't discriminate against parents. However, we don't live in a world where a business is spared the cost incurred by that. That's just not the pragmatic reality of employment in the US at this time, and my fear is that if unable to ask "do you have a good track record or gameplan for keeping up with the unique obligations of childbearing" we'll err on the side of paranoia in hiring, and the discrimination will occur in seeking to AVOID potential conflict or discrimination.
A govt stipend was one way I could see this, in that the business doesn't have to bear the cost and can offload work. I'd still be concerned that a business might be afraid about context switching/onboarding, but it's a step forward. Unfortunately, I don't even see that becoming a reality in a country where paternity leave is still the exception and not the rule.
There almost seems to be a "psychological game theory" question lodged in there, apologies if I was rambly in stating it.
We also live in a world where the stock market ceases to exist if there isn’t a new generation of consumers and workers. (Facebook’s stock price is predicated on the idea that 1 years from now there will still be young people to advertise to.) Children create internalized costs (to parents, to businesses that hire parents), but large positive externalities.
We address that situation by categorically prohibiting discrimintion. Yes, businesses aren’t spared the costs of dealing with peoples’ parental obligations. But it doesn’t matter because that is a cost all businesses have to accommodate (just like the cost of providing for bathroom breaks and lunch breaks and other accommodations for human needs).
My sister was laid off from her employer of 8 years 3 months after her first child was born. She was a top performer, and they'd been throwing raises and bonuses at her before she got pregnant. Over the same year or so (there were 3-4 rounds of layoffs), every single pregnant woman or mother with kids under 2 that she knew at the company was also laid off.
I mention this story, and people ask me "Is that even legal?"
And my response is "Of course it's not, but if you've got a 3 month old newborn at home, have just been laid off, and are trying to conserve cash so you don't go bankrupt before getting another job (which, BTW, you will never get if you sue your former employer), are you really going to sue them? Where will you find the money? Where will you find the lawyer? Where will you find the time?"
And then even if you do, they are going to trot out a multimillion-$ defense team who will argue that they laid off 40% of the company, they sold off a business division, the price of oil was down 2/3 from its peak, and all of the layoffs were necessary for the survival of the company. All of which might or might not be true. Look at just a few women's story and it's pretty clear they're breaking the law, but factor in macroeconomic concerns and you can muddy in the waters just enough that they might win.
That's the problem. "It's illegal" does not automatically mean that you can't get away with it. In fact, if you're wealthy and pick the right targets, you can get away with a damn lot of things that are illegal.
To say you have no options is incorrect. Bona fide violations of law are routinely handled by these agencies at no cost to the victim and are very often successful.
Edit: ADA to DOJ
Which is also illegal, but companies openly get away with it every day.
The worst that ever happens is a slap on the wrist when all the major companies have non recruitment ("no poaching") agreements with each other, suppress wages, get caught, and have to pay a token fine.
Silicon Valley is a small place.
One revelation of the Damore affair was that Google managers a) participate in blacklisting and b) are utterly brazen about it
They look overqualified and not a good fit with the team culture.
Hell, it even bridges genders, I've seen male friends on extended sick leave got the shaft via PiPs, where the time-correlation was uncanny to say the least, and the cost to pursue it seemed disadvantageous to them at the time.
My suspicion is that there's a perception that because we don't back the "Laws Laws Laws" aspect of it 100%, some people read us as "opposed", when in reality I'm arguing that _laws are not sufficient_ to achieve positive outcomes. Unfortunately, many people are... very opposed to engaging in this discussion, so the best I can do is guess.
EDIT: (And, lest I spam the thread more, thanks@meti for mentioning EEOC, I honestly didn't know that existed prior, and I'll be sending it to one friend right now)
What we have to fix is the idea that because someone undertook an enforcement action that they are a risk. If your company treats it's people fairly, you generally have nothing to worry about. If when presented with blacklist info people reported it (especially when it is illegal) the culture around this would improve.
What baffles me the most is that my (US) employer practices rampant positive discrimination when hiring women (I don't mind, btw). And I find it hard to believe they're unique in this. How does a company go from "we ned more gender diversity" to "let's fire the young mothers!"?
WRT "how to fix this".... it's one of the few things that my country has done fairly well, but it'd be unthinkable in the US: you can legally take up to 2 years of maternity leave (or paternity leave, but not both; I think social security covers most of the costs for the company). It's at a fraction of your salary, and there are incentives to come back to work sooner, but you can also stay the full 2y. If you come back sooner, the company is often just grateful, they don't question "how will you handle it" because well... you could've stayed home; you probably figured it out how to handle a small child. And after 2y, nobody really doubts that you can handle work & parenting. Firing you while pregnant is rampantly illegal, I've never heard anybody have this problem - but, indeed, there is sometimes/in some companies a reluctance to hire young childless women. Still, overall I think the rule is pretty good.
It's a kind of bourgeoisie management ideology. The bosses insist that you, your time, and all of your attention belongs to them (we only want 110% players, etc).
When a child enters the picture, they have concrete evidence that the thing they believe is not true, and that's a subconscious threat. They need to either admit that their shitty paper distribution company is not actually the be-all-and-end-all of existence, or just eliminate the threat.
Which is to say that this behavior _is_ dumb, but it does serve a function in preserving the ego of management.
That is one thing unions are good for.
If she doesn't have the time to work on a lawsuit, why would she have had the time to work at her job?
On a tangential matter, I think many people would agree that society should consider financial help for children in poverty. But who should pay? The potentially poorer neighborhoods where they reside? The businesses in the area? Or the national government?
From the businesses. Paid paternal leave is already a legal mandate in just about every country. The US is very lacking in this regard.
As Rayiner accurately points out, children are clearly necessary from a societal point of view. Thus, it seems "most fair" for the whole society to bear that, and for it to not be unevenly distributed such that it generates perverse incentives for business owners.
Companies that pay higher salaries by their choice incur higher payroll costs. That’s just how that works. Trying to engineer the system to even that out somehow is just introducing bureaucracy and costs into the system. The only case I do have concerns about is small employers who by chance might get hit with the costs of a large proportion of their staff taking maternity/paternity leave at the same time. That could be crippling and possibly there should be some special programme to help those companies out.
If designed properly it would not. High-income employees would get more pay out of the program, but they would also have to pay more into the program. It would be a wash, just like employment insurance or social security.
I also think that some industries, such as education, have substantially more women than men and thus will shoulder disproportionate burden. I also think that richer areas will shoulder the burden more easily.
I think these things point to a collective model of burden. I think bigger companies should shoulder uneven burden, but I'm not sure if different industries or areas should shoulder substantially different burden.
Note I’m not taking a blanket all regulation is bad stance. I support regulation to protect pregnant employees and family life. I am recruiting right now for a contractor to cover for a pregnant employee in my team (in the UK). I just think in general the simplest approach is usually the beast, or anyway the least worst.
I would also argue that burden to compensate companies for employees taking time off for personal or family matters (regardless of sex, reproductive plan or status) should be shouldered at the state or national level, and not at local level where there may be higher disparity in both burden and capacity. If both men and women are allotted mandated time to attend to family, and both men and women warrant access to funding for their employers, then companies would lose incentives to discriminate because presumably everyone would want their time off.
If the federal government compensated businesses, then startups and small businesses wouldn't be exempt from protection, nor unequally stressed relative to bigger businesses. As another commentator pointed out, the UK has a similar model.
Your third paragraph you say that this points to collective burden, so you actually don't agree that larger businesses should shoulder higher burden. You are more worried about the actions of the company then the moral implications to actual human beings, so you are highly immoral, noted.
Your third paragraph you say that this points to a collective burden, yet in this one you say richer areas will shoulder the burden more easily. Aside from this being a statement as vacuous as "the sky is blue", you are also completely missing the fact that higher education is already highly subsidized by alumni, government and corporations. If you are talking about k-12, yeah they are funded by local property taxes already, and are completely irrelevant to this conversation, as this conversation is about corporations.
I think these things point to a collective model of burden.
It's hard to tell what you actually think.
Yes, and in those other countries, the vast portion of the cost (just like the cost of health insurance) is borne by the government, not the business.
For example, in the UK, 92% of the mandated parental leave costs are paid by the government (technically it's a refund but you can get an advance on it). Employers can (and often do) offer more if they wish.
Your own example seems like a great point to make of the exact sort of perverse incentives one can create though. Tons of discussions lately about the gig economy and lack of worker protections. I'm not convinced this isn't at least in part related to the cost of full time workers vs. contractors.
As I said in my response to Rayiner, saying "We disallow this legally" simply isn't sufficient to prevent behavior, to my eyes. As a society, it's illegal to pursue corporate fraud, yet a board of political luminaries will back it, to be topical about things. It's illegal to discriminate vs. age, yet those threads pervade HN.
Would I like to live in a world where we didn't need to play incentive games/work around unconcious bias, absolutely, but that's simply not my (pessimistic) view of things.
I think a part of existencebox's point is that this prohibition doesn't entirely work, because companies discriminate anyway, and craft the playing field so that they either don't get caught, or that the cost or repercussions of fighting back end up being too high for an individual to bear.
Perhaps if we were more willing to look at the actual negative effects (on job performance) caused by pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing, we could actually create incentives to "pay for" those negative effects and stamp out discrimination.
But no, instead we just "prohibit discrimination", without trying to find remedies for the reasons why companies want to discriminate in the first place. It helps, sure. But it falls far short of actually fixing the problem.
Pregnancy and child rearing has a real cost for most businesses, and it is not surprising that discrimination occurs as a result. Trying to ignore those issues and simply make discrimination illegal will never be particularly effective because the underlying issues have not been addressed.
I think we would be better off acknowledging that those issues exist, but fostering a culture where making sacrifices to support families is considered absolutely worthwhile since it is such a fundamentally important part of our society.
There should still be laws against discrimination, but we should not expect the existence of those laws to police our behaviour. A person's behaviour is primarily controlled by what they believe is right, not what they believe is legal
Every company just thinks it gets to be that one company. It's a classic tragedy of the commons scenario.
And of course, any growth is bad in the current situation since the current level is so unsustainable - population should decrease, not increase.
Which resources are currently constrained? You'll find most of the growth is occuring in "low-maintanance" developing economies that don't consume as much (energy, food, goods, or any random metric per capita) as developed economies.
My counter-thesis: it's not the growth that's unsustainable, but the wasteful and environmentally unfriendly throw-away consumerist lifestyles.
Employees are a benefit, not a cost. The fact employees have requirements of their own is something that happens in organisations run by humans for humans.
If you think employees are a cost, you're doing business wrong - and doing humanity wrong too.
This really comes down to a political issue - who is business for? In capitalist economies, business exists primarily to make money for shareholders and management.
The belief that this can excuse all kinds of incredibly inhumane behaviours is far more of a problem than the fact that women get pregnant and need time off.
Now - you can argue there is huge inconvenience in not having someone turn up to work for a while. From one point of view, it's certainly not ideal.
But a mature business should be able to deal with all kinds of challenges, including human issues, technical issues, political issues, and financial issues.
Being amazed and blindsided by a pregnancy, or even multiple pregnancies, suggests poor planning and a brittle culture. It's not evidence of freebooting capitalism, so much as of not being very good at management.
I think more couples should think about the effect that thier (not just her) career will have on thier family and choose to make the necessary lifestyle choices accordingly.
I married my wife in our mid thirties and she had two kids she was raising by herself - in a good neighborhood (meaning they weren't struggling). We've made plenty of career limiting choices to put our marriage and our family first. She took a pay cut to work a job with fewer hours and less pay and I gave up all of my side hustles and refuse to work a job that requires extended frequent travel, long hours, or a long commute.
I don't expect a business to accomadate my family choices or to reward me as highly as someone who is willing to put in 70 hours a week. On the other hand, a business shouldn't expect me to sacrifice more than 40-45 hours a week with my family for their benefit. I'd much rather lose my job than lose my wife.
If you’re talking about the general time treatment that parents have vs non-parents, then I don’t know what to tell you. 40 hours a week is pretty attainable especially with flexibility around work day, which a progressive workspace like google should be able to support. If the problem is that google is set up to expect people to work themselves to death, that’s not smart and they should focus on that problem instead.
It's spreading out the costs to everyone instead of focusing it on the one company that suddenly happens to have 10% or 30% of its workforce suddenly gone.
It seems much fairer to all parties involved.
Correct, look at the German approach.
I'm not sure if the government subsidizes the companies for the lack of production, but the state mandates 1 year paid leave, and up to 3 and ability to get the same job back.
Now I know that is totally impractical for the tech sector, taken verbatim.
The US can learn from it anyway.
What a field we're in when ranked output is all that matters at the cost of being human with human needs. I needed a kid as much as my wife. I guess I shouldn't expect any different by a field dominated by a bunch of male douchey autists.
The policy solution is:
- A per-child negative income tax sufficient to cover the risk/impact of employer discrimination.
- Give mothers and fathers equal leave.
- Limit the compulsory work week to 50 hours for salaried (or overtime hourly) employees.
- Penalties for violating the above sufficient to convince lawyers to take the case on a speculative basis if the client has a legitimate case.
That balances out the differences between genders and parents/non-parents sufficiently that anyone with sense wouldn't take the risk.
Wouldn't this just lead to employers discriminating, on the grounds that "hey, you already got your tax benefit to make up for it"?
You need to remember the effectiveness of a law is penalty * odds of getting caught. You just need to make discrimination unattractive financially and provide some incentive to the parents to cover the risk.
My ex was a really smart guy, but not much of a people person. He once told me that most of what he knew about being a good manager he learned from being married to me. Otherwise, he would be good at the technical parts of his job, but he wouldn't be any good at dealing with people.
Part of what I knew about dealing with people came from being a full time parent. I'm also much more of a people person than he was, but potential gets developed by practice and real world experience. It doesn't happen in a vacuum.
Possibly you can create an option that allows employees to self-discriminate. Say, "drop down to 30 hrs/wk with some work-from-home flexibility" for a significant drop in pay. You'll get roughly the same level of performance in many creative arts like programming, but since it's the employee's choice to take the company isn't responsible for "discriminating".
Companies are nothing but made up of people. The irony is at one time or another these same people would have wanted the exact same benefits for themselves but they don’t like extending those same benefits to others.
If they can’t act in the larger national interest on a few of these occasions then they won’t have a population to sell to.
Apple sells globally, should
Apple also pay for the welfare of the countries where it sells its product?
The corporate tax rate has been reduced to something like 20%. Most companies in the US pay much less than that. The state is already subsidizing a lot for big corporations.
Some part of which flows to investors who purchase securities. Capital gains and dividends are taxed.
Companies can't earn record profits without government running deficit (by healthcare/infra expenditure) and without people running out of savings (by spending on the goods and services being produced)
Part of the value produced will be taxed in the US while the individuals and governments all over the world run out of saving and run into deficits respectively. All that flows to the US. Stopping this is much worse for the US.
Yes. And they do in countries which charge VAT. They should arguably be taxed on the profits they make in the territories they sell in, but that is much harder to do in practice without international cooperation.
> Some part of which flows to investors who purchase securities. Capital gains and dividends are taxed.
Capital gains are only taxed when they are realized. E.g. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway hasn't paid a dime in taxes on the 15.4 billion dollar capital gains on its 16.7 billion dollar stake in Coca Cola (a position he initiated in 1987). Since Buffett has indicated he isn't planning on selling Coca Cola ever, those capital gains won't ever be taxed.
> Companies can't earn record profits without government running deficit (by healthcare/infra expenditure) and without people running out of savings (by spending on the goods and services being produced)
Of course they can: by becoming more efficient or by growing GDP.
> Part of the value produced will be taxed in the US while the individuals and governments all over the world run out of saving and run into deficits respectively. All that flows to the US. Stopping this is much worse for the US.
Nonsense. If you had looked at the OECD government deficit data , you would have known that the US is running one of the biggest deficits in terms of % of GDP (4.94% in 2016 vs 1.546% for the EU as a whole, or a surplus of 1% for Germany). Similarly, personal savings are 2.8% in the US  vs 10% in the EU  or 50% in Japan .
Of course, this has little to do with the balance of trade, as you seem to be thinking. The US runs a trade deficit: it imports more than it exports. This is offset by capital inflows from abroad, meaning that a bigger and bigger share of the ownership of productive assets are being owned by foreigners. Returns on those assets will accrue to foreign investors.
GP mentioned the Corporate Tax.
VAT is an indirect tax. It's not a tax on profit but consumption, often paid by individuals.
Supplies used as input by companies are vat exempt.
I also mentioned taxes on dividends.
Buffet is not the only one operating in market.
And how can they grow GDP or become more efficient without investment? Where does that money come from if not from the individuals (buying product/service) and government (spending on infra/healthcare)
Nonsense. If you had looked at the OECD government deficit data , you would have known that the US is running one of the biggest deficits in terms of % of GDP (4.94% in 2016 vs 1.546% for the EU as a whole, or a surplus of 1% for Germany). Similarly, personal savings are 2.8% in the US  vs 10% in the EU  or 50% in Japan 
Not sure what you are trying to prove by this random data.
US is the largest Foreign Direct receipent.
Yes, Europe the largest buyer of the US securities.
As US become more attractive to the foreign investors. The trade deficit will increase and will be financed by the foreign investors. Where is the problem?
Make the penalties for such discrimination large enough that, even when factoring in the uncertainty that they will be applied in each case, they outweigh any conceivable benefit.
threatofrain got it right. This is a problem we need to address, but the solutions I've seen thus far don't take unfortunate pathologies of human psychology into account, and when we don't do that, we get very surprised at the lack of results down the line. You're more than willing to try to live in a world where you say "Because we said X this is what's going to happen" but I find that to be far less proactive than trying to ask what actual responses are, as distasteful as they might be, and ways to address them.
My concern is that Rayiner's response, "we prohibit it because we made it a law" is still ignoring the key point. _it's too goddamn easy_ to discriminate and paint it as something else, too many reasons I could turn down ANY applicant, for me to just brush it off as "a law is sufficient." I believe that if this is a problem we _really_ want to fix, it's going to involve delving into some unpleasant trains of thought that aren't really "acceptable conversation" right now. I just worry that by ignoring it, the problem goes unaddressed, and we potentially foment resistance against it.
It feels naive to me to think that just because a law is "full stop necessary" in our moral frame of reference, to think that's sufficient to implement it effectively such that it generates the outcome you want in the long run.
1. Having a child incurs a cost to employers.
2. Regardless of legality, a business will try to minimize this cost.
3. Since it's illegal during an interview to even touch upon the subject of having kids and what a candidate's strategy may be to remain a productive employee while raising a child, employers may be even more discriminatory towards _everyone_ of a child-bearing age, in order to avoid discriminating against recent or soon-to-be parents.
So, how can we alter the incentive structure for employers such that they're not tempted to discriminate. Should we shift the cost burden of child rearing to the govt? Or should we allow an employer to ask you about your plans for having children and how it will affect your employment
Rather, it addresses the specific issue of there being an economic incentive to discriminate, intrinsic to all businesses.
Addressing that issue is compatible with concurrent solutions that outlaw the discrimination on moral grounds, or do so more strictly, or provide more aggressive enforcement.
virtually no one who posts on this website will be better off after the revolution. why dedicate your life to screwing yourself?
Major corporations may have a lot. The random corner shop with two employees certainly doesn't.
I'm disappointed that we're not able to engage in better faith.
If you're not even willing to consider the idea of regulations to deal with the matter pragmatically (such as the govt stipend suggested by the person you were replying to), then the situation is just going to continue unchanged.
that's a contradiction in terms. What's "it"? What could you spend and why is it worth less than it's supposed to? I'd argue that it fails because most direct attempts to stop murder involve more murder. Which is to say, no, we could not, or we would've done it, but of course the reasons are very difficult. An easy solution is to restrict the definitions, which is necessary, because death is awfully complicated for the mind to process, but therefore also subject to abuse.
And, individually we have less interest in our neighbor procreating. But in a benevolent reading, tptacek's quoted question could be reduced to "how will you be able to care of young children, given that we require a high degree of commitment to the company?"
Yes, we can make it illegal, and enforce strictly, and yes we should do that. However, as long as their is a cost to companies when women take maternity leave, you are going to have to keep fighting the battle because companies will find new and creative ways to discriminate to save money.
What we need to do, in addition to enforcing anti-discrimination laws, is to have maternity and paternity leave mandated by law, and paid for with taxpayer dollars. The cost of having and raising the next generation should be shared.
We can all agree that the discrimination is wrong, full stop, but we need to be pragmatic and realistic in how we combat it.
The fix for this is easy. You pay for on-call, and have a understood system for assigning it. My brother in law is a fireman... he misses many holidays, but can plan around it because there is such a system.
And the reason your brother-in-law has such a system with paid overtime is a union... which is unlikely to affect IT until AIs organize and demand work-life balance.
Having children is just a choice of a hobby that takes a lot of time, but in our current culture it's reprehensible for me to say I can't fill in his hours because I have my own hobbies that I want to do instead.
Don’t forget local managers and do things against company policy which causes weird stories like the above.
Questions about race, age, religion, pregnancy, civil status, disability are all off-limit. This interviewer was out of line, and should be reported to the recruiter.
Because I'm just as distracted from my work/career by my toddler as any mother would be. And if they decided not to hire me on account of that I certainly would not blame them.
The sooner we stop blaming faceless corporations and start acknowledging that each person involved in recruiting (including you and me) needs to take training and ethics more seriously, the better.
Perhaps ironically, I currently work at Uber (you know, the media darling). Here, I (and many others) feel strongly that the responsibility of fixing things is on everyone at every level, rather than something that comes exclusively from above.
Somehow after people lost faith in the old leadership, and gained faith in the new leadership, they built up the awareness and courage to speak up.
There has been some stuff coming from above (mandatory training about harassment, for example), but for the most part, initiatives to fix recruiting (and other aspects that have been in limbo) are self-organized by the engineers via interest groups, with awareness efforts in guild meetings, etc, and then those efforts bubble up the org chart sort of as an FYI. We tie these into what we call citizenship goals, which essentially work as an organizationally-blessed reason to do good.
Obviously I don't wish for other companies to go through the mud like Uber did, but it would great if the ethically-minded employees at other companies could find some other catalyst to take matters into their own hands. Even here, there's still a lot to do, and it has to be an ongoing effort, but I'm hopeful.
Obviously you don't live in the USA.
How did your wife respond? :)
The system's broken.
What they aren't free to do is make discriminatory hiring decisions based on membership in protected classes.
Avoiding asking certain types of personal questions is one way to avoid the appearance of discriminatory hiring practices.
>they can take that into account.
They can't take that into account just because you bring it up. Whether or not you bring it up or they ask doesn't matter. Some jurisdictions have laws explicitly forbiding discrimination against parents, and the federal prohibition on sex discrimination means that discrimination against caregivers is generally prohibited (since women are more likely to be caregivers, discrimination against them is defacto discriminatory towards women)
The sentiment of the comment was that the timing was unfortunate because the kid was born in the same period that had presumably something else going on on the work side. Not that the child was born. So either the OP had some prior "history" with his manager, which changed the literal meaning of the comment, or he is reading too much into it.
> ... wasn't going back to work anyway ...
Adding in severance pay on top of that, sounds like a sweet deal!
But I'm not surprised that in a company of > 70k people, there are some who either shouldn't be involved in hiring, or desperately need more clue. The real question is if on a per-capita basis, Google's managing to make it better over time.
But the company would have still had to keep the position open anyways. Here we see the root causes of pregnancy discrimination.
And, given how hard it is for large companies in the bay area to hire enough people who fit their needs, it seems irrational to let someone go for only this reason.
This is really one of the fundamental reasons that not taking care of mothers & fathers (and in fact: going after them) is just such a boneheaded move. It’s a statement of culture. Companies are full of mothers and fathers, and how you treat expectant mothers is a statement on your corporate values. If you need to put it into financial terms — which you shouldn’t — you will lose more value with a weaker talent pool and higher recruiting costs treating people poorly, than you will by doing the right thing.
I'm glad you decided to do this. The practice is not going to change if people don't call it out when it happens.
How does this also not result in expensive lawsuit.
I've heard of moms before who would rather tell the truth that they're not coming back after leave, but there's little upside and a lot of risk.
Part of what we're not talking about here (in this whole thread) is the cost of child care. Child care in SF is over $1700 a month, and hard to find for 3 month olds, which is why a lot of parents quit after leave.
I reckon we'll get a lot more parents staying in the workforce if the government helped more with childcare across all income ranges. Childcare comes at a lower income time of life, often when around when people have recently purchased a home.
We're also likely to have fewer parents drop out of the workforce if they can get their infants to 6+ months with a parent. Childcare is easier to find for 6 month olds than 3 month olds.
I'm far from an expert so I could be totally wrong but the little bit of literature I've read on outcomes for children suggests a full time stay at home parent provides the best outcomes. That almost certainly doesn't have to be the mom specifically, but if we're going to subsidize behavior, I would prefer to subsidize whatever behavior provides the best outcomes for children. The article below suggests part time work from home opportunities with deadline based projects. That might be a reasonable answer, but again someone with actual expertise on child rearing/psychology should set policy here. The best outcomes might not be [parent] getting back to work in 6 months or even a year.
There's a word for this: contrived.
It is extremely unlikely that such a company would exist in the current landscape, one willing to needlessly promote women, especially when considering their prior or current pregnancy status. I'm having myself a pretty big giggle.
I am fully aware of that, hence some of my statements. I think it's contrived and not being completely honest, at the very least it seems pretty irrelevant.
I know the law doesn't care, but I care. There's a difference between informing your manager one month after you're hired that you're pregnant (been there, felt totally fooled - as the manager, that is) and will need to take time off quite soon, and doing it like a year or so later.
The "always positive performance reviews" bit implies some sizeable amount of time before the announcement, which is why I'm asking.
That's both the legal thing to do and the ethical thing to do. What else are you proposing?
An employee expecting, or indeed planning, to take a X months leave Y months after joining, with X > Y, isn't an irrelevant dimension. Especially if parental leave is paid, but I don't know if that is how the US handles leave.
An employee literally cannot be a high quality, productive worker if they are not working. Employers should not be forced to ignore relevant factors when hiring. That isn't fair on them.
And while you might see pregnancy as equivalent to having a medical condition there are actually a number of fairly important differences. For example, in the modern era, pregnancy is more controllable than illness. Quite a number of people enthusiastically plan on it. Those aspects, intent and control, are important for determining who should bear the cost. The cost should not settle on an unwitting employer looking for a new hire.
Fortunately this is exactly how it's implemented in most European countries: if the employee is not working the employer doesn't pay. The (usually state run) insurer does.
Requiring businesses to pay for someone taking time to care of their children is patently stupid and unjust and there is fully justified pushback against such laws.
But they are - that's the law. The same legal system that allows the corporation to exist at all and earn money in this environment requires them to ignore the fact that someone may be going on maternal leave and not discriminate based on it.
We the voters have decided that this is more important than the profits of any company, and in the end the voters (i.e. mostly employees) get to decide the rules of society, not the companies.
In the United States, there are many people who are in the reserve of the military, or in the National Guard. They often need to take some amount of time away from work for regular training and refresher sessions with the rest of their unit, in order to stay ready for wartime or domestic-emergency (since they also play a large role in responses to natural disasters) duty.
As a society, we've decided this is important enough to our future security to make it illegal to discriminate in hiring against someone who has obligations as a member of the reserves or National Guard, illegal to fire them for taking time away from work to fulfill those obligations, and illegal to force them to use their ordinary vacation time to cover that time away. And even if a reservist or Guard is called to extended active service, they have the right to return to their previous employer so long as that service does not exceed five years.
We've made that choice because, for each individual employer, the temptation is strong to let some other sucker hold a spot for a Guard or reservist, and not waste any of your business' money on them. Which is a tragedy of the commons situation.
Children are similarly an issue of security for our society. There is significantly less point to building things today, if nobody will be around tomorrow. So we, as a society, have also decided that employers cannot discriminate on the basis of choosing to have children.
You seem to have a problem with the second of these. Do you also have a problem with the first? If so, how do you find a consistent position that reaches those two different conclusions?
If your attitude is purely one of "don't use any of my money to do this", well, a government-run compensation system would be tax-funded and would use... some of your money. In fact, it would probably just be implemented similarly to employer payroll taxes, so it would mean you'd get to pay into it even if you somehow manage never to have an employee who has a child. Then you could complain about paying into a system that's not paying back out to you!
Or you could just learn to deal with the price of living in a civilized society, and accept that while this may be one specific benefit you'll never take advantage of, there are plenty of benefits you do get to take advantage of, that perhaps others don't, and that they pay into them regardless.
(and that's without considering that hiring and onboarding replacement employees is expensive, too, if your policy is to fire/not hire people who choose to have children, so please be sure to consider that as one of your costs)
Basically the same reasons you don’t invest in the 100% returns every year “investment opportunity”
And quite crying about down-votes.
The logic of: "Babies are expensive, therefor I cannot stay unemployed for 6 months before I find a job" seems completely sound and reasonable to me. Where is that logic lacking? What practical alternative would you propose?
Guess what, in our industry the people that are planning to have kids are also very likely to be senior and experienced. They're hard to recruit. Consider leave as part of the cost of hiring good people.
If you're not doing things like this, you're not actually competing for top talent.
Great, but the parent poster is hiding(again, rightfully so) their planned leave from their future employer.
I would hope that someone looking for a long term employment at a company would be honest and upfront with something like a planned 1-year vacation. My only gripe with the parent poster is that they are hiding(rightfully so) this so close before their planned leave and thus do not appear serious about a long term employment at that company.
It's actually in your best interest as the hiring company to not find out if the person is pregnant or expecting to have a child. Let's say that you decided not to hire someone for a set of reasons unrelated to pregnancy, but along the way you asked the candidate if they were planning to get pregnant. Good luck proving that you didn't make the hiring decision on the basis of knowing they would take leave. Which of course is illegal under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. This is why most companies make it a policy that you can not ask these kinds of questions so as not to taint the interview (even though technically it's not illegal to ask the questions, it's just illegal to use them as a basis for your decision).
As a candidate you might actually be acting more in the interest of the company to not tell them you are going to be having a child so as not to put them in that position? I honestly haven't thought through it that much so I could be convinced of a different opinion.
If you're planning to continue working after having a child, I think you should go about your career as if the pregnancy wasn't happening and just take the leave as appropriate. If that means you work 6 weeks before leave, so be it. You'll be back after leave to continue on.
What would the company do if instead of getting pregnant you got hit by a bus one day? I had to take 2 months of medical leave on 2 weeks notice when I got deathly ill, that was way less notice than a pregnancy. The startup I was at had only 12 people and they handled it. I'm unconvinced by all these arguments that it's too much of a hardship for companies to deal with their employees having a life.
If your old job doesn't provide halfway decent health benefits or paid parental leave, of course.
If your old job sucks your soul and makes you want to slit your wrists, of course.
But, obviously, we're not talking the same kind of "makes sense" here, are we?
And yeah, I would understand it better if she had just joined or it was a smaller company. We we're in extra shock because the company goes out of their way to publicly promote these benefits and the work-life balance blabla.
(Was it in Ad sales? - I guess I could see that unit being run in a more "rough" way - sales teams tend to be super macho.)
It can't be more than 9 months. A year, tops.
In all seriousness, if you've gotten multiple performance reviews, that implies they've been there for a while.
I'd say you were discriminating her way more than Google.
Kids are ruinous for women careers but only partly for practice like one described.
The other reason is that we as families, partners and society in general accept that kids are, essentially, a woman job.
Let's say you're a small company and you can really only afford to have <10 people on your payroll. Let's say you're considering two candidates of exactly equal skills and age: a 28yo man and a 28yo woman.
Even if they both plan to have 2 kids in the next 4 years, it's a biological reality that it will take the woman away from work for longer. She has the 9 months of pregnancy where she may be tired or uncomfortable, then the actual delivery, then recovery, and then often a period of breast feeding. The man could be father of the century but there are certain burdens that fall on women because of their sex.
So while I'd like to force the startup to make the decision without considering this factor, is that always reasonable?
And before the downvotes come: I am really on the side of pregnant women here. I want them to get generous leave without any effect on their careers. But I am questioning if that is always possible.
But it only pays 60% of income, for 6 weeks, and up to a level under the salary of most in product-engineering-design in tech. Most tech companies true up salary above the PFL levels for those 6 weeks (and potentially pay 100% for more weeks), and in SF, truing up to 100% for those 6 weeks is required for companies above a certain size.
Companies I am familiar with continue vesting through the full length of their paid parental leave.
When we were 8 people we had 2 parents go on 4 months of leave (with 3 month overlap). We missed them and vacation time was a little limited, but everything was fine.
Companies need to account for the fact that they're comprised of human beings that reproduce. In terms of humanity you can't get much more fundamental than reproduction.
If think that's the point, companies do account for that, by discriminating against women, onto which the bulk of the burden of reproduction falls.
Correcting this incentive structure is a prime job for government, else literally nothing can exist in few generations.
If the government does not intervene to force all companies to shoulder the cost on behalf of the society and distribute the costs to everyone else through prices, then it's hard to say it's unethical for a company not to offer free health care, retirement, disability, life and funeral insurance to each and every current or former employee.
Just because women are bearing the physical burden of the pregnancy, it doesn't mean it's solely their burden. We're making the choice that it should be their burden. We could just as easily provide subsidies and insurance to companies to cover family leave. If we value childbirth as a society, then we should put our money where our mouth is and actually pay for it somehow.
That's not completely correct when you factor in breastfeeding. Nowadays we do have the ability to overcome this with pumping, but if the parents decide they want to only breastfeed their baby naturally, without a bottle, this pretty much requires the mother to be with the baby for at least a few months.
This is a pretty common choice and situation for various reasons.
This feels like a problem of will, and maybe male chauvinism, not biology.
This is not even mentioning the fact of the pregnancy itself, which ranges from no biggie, to several months of severely reduced capability. My wife basically couldn't function (as in curled up in bed) for almost two months during her pregnancy.
Your wife's (very unfortunate) experience is not typical - most women won't require two months of bed rest.
Let's consider people with depression: most will perform their jobs normally, while some will require months of medically-mandated time off. Should employers discriminate based on the possibility to develop depression? I'd say it's far more likely than becoming pregnant if one accounts for the entire workforce.
Obviously, men don't need to work and women don't need to take care of the kids (above and beyond what's biologically required of them), but (1) on average, outcomes will be influenced by underlying biological reality, and (2) it's a fantasy thinking that people can take time off work - e.g. a poor family with a newborn, you really think that any parent will take off more time than they absolutely need to, biologically?
Finally (3) yeah there are possible social levers we can use to counter this biological reality and enforce equality of outcomes, but ultimately, we need to decide what we want - why is women working more better than women spending more time with the children? Personally, I look up to Netherlands, one of the happiest countries on Earth, where many women work just part-time.
You're referring to a timescale of days which a woman will likely need to spend in hospital. I believe
jschwartzi is referring to the weeks/months of maternity/paternity leave following the initial birth. There isn't a hard biological reason not to evenly share the load after the immediate medical concerns are completed.
Note: some pregnant women need to stay off work, but all women are treated in the same way by their employers.
That is unfair.
As a Dutch person: this stereotype needs to stop. The Netherlands is a country like any other, with big problems and defenitely not the happiest people on earth. The Many women work part-time here because the tax is so high due to corruption its not rewarding to actually work. Last year suicide was the most common cause of death among people between 20 and 40 years.
The Netherlands is the country where most drugs worldwide are made, transported and used. XTC is the biggest export of this country, which leads to high criminality and assassinations on the streets.
The reason it's not a biological disadvantage in my mind is because society doesn't have to be structured to disadvantage people because of that biology. Other posters have made the point that if men simply took the same time off as women do then that would weaken discrimination against pregnant women. And others have suggested social insurance for companies who have to fill temporary vacancies due to childbirth. So again, we've structured our society so that pregnancy is a disadvantage and it doesn't have to be.
The disconnect is that you keep saying how things are and we keep telling you that things don't have to be this way.
If we’re talking about salaried employees, clearly people who cannot work as many hours (pregnant women) will be less valuable than people who can work more (everybody else). You won’t change this reality by legislating that employers shouldn’t be realistic. On the other hand, you might nudge reality (i.e. make pregnant women worth comparatively more to employers) by e.g. awarding companies that hire pregnant women (i.e. a direct monetary payoff to offset the implicit loss of a less productive worker). But noone is talking about such solutions because they’re too busy lying with straight faces for their own political benefit.
This is why remote-only work culture is so important for social justice in tech. Flexible working hours from home gives women the freedom to work from their recovery beds, walk away from the computer to feed their newborns, be there to give their kids a snack and ask them how was school when they get home.
One of the best hiring strategies is to focus on workers whom the market is undervaluing, for whatever prejudice. Remote-only allows you to take the real career-related risks that pregnancy and motherhood imposes and completely mitigate them.
Although I agree in principle, I can think of few things as horrifying as new mothers working from a hospital bed, it's practically dystopian.
IMO the way of fixing the discrimination issue is equal maternity and paternity leave, along with increasing the amount of leave. If both parents are going to take the same time off then there's less of an issue.
Being a Swede, it's just so unreal when I hear about how it is in the US.
We also have some of the most generous laws for taking care of your sick child. If you fire an employee because they're taking care of a sick child all the time, boy is your business in for a world of hurt.
The unemployment rate is lowest for people in their 30s, which is the time in life when it's likely people will either be getting a child or they already have a child at home that needs to be looked after. It might have something to do with our government subsidised daycare though.
Numbers for comparison:
- full year tuition at a Dutch university is ~2000 euro (and they are all considered about equally good, something that is difficult to explain to people used to the US/UK system)
- annual payment for healthcare is about ~1300 euro
- living in a good apartment in a nice part of amsterdam will cost you between 1200-1800 euro/month (600sq.ft, 2 beds, yes our buildings are smaller)
if that wasn't mentioned in the employment agreement, then you (the boss) just lied about the conditions of employment.
I think a startup deserves the right to not hire somebody who plans to take multiple months off (without telling the boss), but a startup also needs to be upfront about it. I think a bit of transparency goes a long way towards making the market more efficient.
If your contract does't have that either the company is very, very lax or their lawyer is incompetent.
If a startup dies because it's hiring human beings, it should maybe start to pivot into employing dogs? Or robots, of course.
The company manages just fine. It's a small startup of a dozen people. Almost two thirds of their employees had babies and the company's productivity never suffered from it. Fact, one of the ladies had twins and came back after a month, to continue ruling over the lesser mortals with an iron hand.
So I can say with convicton that there is no logic in claiming that a woman's productivity has to take a hit if she has babies. Much less any "biological reality" to any of what you have written.
You just severely understimate pregnant women and mothers, is all.
That's not to say that I think all mothers are like that or that it's a bad thing per se since I'm all about work-life balance, but I can see where companies are coming from when it comes to trying to find someone who they can maximize output.
In most cases this isn't optimal for the baby, mother, father or society. Just because one family decides to do it that way doesn't mean we should support a system that punishes those that don't make the same decision.
I believe it is. As a society, we've decided that being able to continue the population is more important than the fortunes of any particular startup.
Maybe we could take this out of the hands of the startup and have society subsidize it?
I'm writing from Canada. Mother and/or father can share up to 35 weeks of paid leave under the national insurance program. This maxes out at, I think, approx $500 per week. It's not a lot. But it helps.
Regarding societal values, this the same program that would normally pay you temporarily if you were laid off (not by choice). Normally you wouldn't be eligible to collect benefits if you willingly left a job. Pregnancy is generally considered to be a choice, so I think making these benefits available to parents shows society does value the choice to parent and will subsidize it.
Parents who adopt a child receive significant additional benefits on top of the standard allowance.
Recently there have been changes to the program to improve benefits for self-employed. As we on HN know ... sometimes a startup founder isn't "employed" or receiving salary in the usual sense and historically it was difficult for such professionals to receive employment insurance benefits but it's changing.
Anyways, progress? :-)
This. I'm writing from Australia- it looks like we only get $622.10 for 18 weeks, but it seems like a nice middle ground to support new parents. At that low price I would probably agree that 35 weeks is reasonable.
I get confused when people argue strongly against the middle ground position. I don't even want to have kids but I don't begrudge the use of public money in this way- it's a direct investment in the future of society which shields both parents and businesses from undue financial stress without being profligate or forcing too much ideology on the rest of us.
Err no. It wasn't long ago that a family could survive well on a single income with the mother at home, cars paid, schooling sorted and food on the table. Not even remotely feasible on a single income now, unless you're talking executive pay.
Society has by and large chosen to abandon the family when it comes to supporting reproduction. Hell, we're told that we aren't reproducing at rates enough to replace us and that the only solution is bringing in cheap immigrants (got to keep those wages down) rather than making having more kids more accessible to the people already here.
Society has chosen rabid capitalism at virtually every cost possible.
Yes it is. Just not if you want to live in really nice cities and have a ton of stuff.
If you want to live in a suburb, commute, not own much in the way of technology, and own a house 30% of the size of what people live in now, then yeah, that's doable.
Housing costs have inflated and that's worthy of note. But so have our expectations of comfort and life, and those have outpaced earning potentials.
All of this from a single, blue collar worker's income. The same job that pays $13 an hour today. I, working in the tech industry with a great paying job in a rural city, with a working wife, couldn't begin to reproduce their lifestyle without incurring absurd amounts of debt.
You'll have a hard time convincing me that it's our expectations which have changed the most.
Where I live now (Seattle), hell no. But Seattle was a lot different 30 years ago.
And if I just kept my last job w/ a salary in the mid 100Ks and worked remotely, I'd live like a king in Cleveland. I literally wouldn't know what to buy or where to live. In Seattle I live in a "bad" area in a townhome that I could barely afford during the dip and now I won the idiot's lottery and am sitting on a property that has appreciated by double.
But through it all, Cleveland still exists. And I could easily live in a suburb of Cleveland and get a decent enough bungalow boring house for under 100k that doesn't need any work done to it except a paint job.
I bet I'd get even more value in Detroit or maybe Pittsburgh.
And all this is because women now have careers, instead of being stay-at-home moms?
(Apologies if I misunderstood your comment. I'm trying to connect it to what the GP said.)
That said, it's highly likely there is some correlation between wages (and housing costs) and the doubling the potential labor pool, but that's another topic for another day.
It is not degrading for a parent to choose to prioritize family matters over income.
It is degrading for society to tell a person what their personal priorities will be based on a chromosome.
...and you'll find quotes like:
Feminism doesn’t see our child-rearing, much less all that goes with it, as valuable. There is no glory, no glass ceiling in poo-wiping, or mac and cheese cooking, or alphabet-teaching. There isn’t even value in breastfeeding, which you’d think would be vaunted in feminist circles for using the female body for something only women can do. Alas, it’s just a ball-and-chain, as Huffington Post says: “Breastfeeding has become the last legitimate ‘women’s work’ — the only argument remaining for a gendered division of labor that argues that women’s place is at home with the children.”
...we should be doing what we want to do, and what we want to do is not take care of someone else. How could we possibly wa ...nt that? The idea of our happiness is absurd to mainstream feminism.*
(Simone de Beauvoir) “No woman should be authorized to stay home to raise her children. Women should not have that choice, because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”
(Sarrah le Marquand) “Rather than wail about the supposed liberation in a woman’s right to choose to shun paid employment, we should make it a legal requirement that all parents of children of school-age or older are gainfully employed"
"Oh, I have cancer. But at least I'll be saving money on haircuts soon!"
... not quite good enough.
"Going on an air trip with your family of four? Well, if you divert your attention to handling four parachutes, you're more likely to make a mistake, so you'd better just prepare one parachute just your yourself. That way, when the plane's in its terminal dive, you can abandon your family to their deaths and make it out alive."
Something more like that, although that's absurd.
Your view of the situation is inverted and immoral. A relationship is what might actually make life worth living for you. Your skills are how you get a job, and "ten years of home-making" just means that your lonely, pathetic existence, post-relationship, has a few less luxuries in it.
Someone in an abusive relationship is well-served by getting _out_ of that relationship. If they have no job skills, they're subject to crippling financial pressure to remain in a situation that's harmful to them, in addition to all the other pressure they're already under.
Beyond that, while (cis) women have the necessary equipment to have kids, we’re not the only ones with bodies that can get sick. Penalizing all women for one particular way of (potentially) disrupting work is incredibly unfair, and ignores that men also can need leaves of absence.
As a society though, we shouldn't let that be ground for discrimination. As you mentioned, not all women want or will have kids. Of those who do, many will have supportive significant others, and the difference in productivity will be negligible. Even if it wasn't, I don't want to live in a world where people have trouble getting a job because they might end up doing something a very significant portion of the population will do.
But it's still a fact that, given 2 exactly equivalent candidate, both in their mid twenties, one is a guy, one's a woman, there is a well known, significant short to medium term risk in the later, if only looking at it from a local maximum perspective. We as a society need to find a way to artificially make up for it.
My personal favorite solution is to give both men and women equal (mandatory?) parental leaves, and no difference if its an adoption, same sex partners, or anything like that. Yes, women have an actual medical need, yes it might not be quite representative of reality, but that equalizes the risk from an employer perspective. No difference between the man and the woman (bonus point, it will help even out parental contribution and responsabilities at home).
That still leaves the age discrimination, but considering ageism is often against older people, that might really just even things out a little.
If you're going to be stretched thin financially after hiring a single new person, you probably shouldn't be hiring.
Then you do your risk analysis and determine if the risk of the person not working out is something you can stomach. At 1M/yr, the risk is you hire a salesperson who gets you no new accounts after a year, existing revenue drops for other reasons and then you are forced to fire someone productive to make ends meet because you're 100k in the hole. At 1.3M/yr, maybe it'll be extremely stressful, but there's a least a fighting chance that you won't be in the red at the end of the year. At 2M/yr, the worst case will still suck, but it won't put your business anywhere near danger of extinction because you have a rainy day bank.
Revenue is often not directly tied to headcount. Even if your 9 employees can barely keep up, your revenue should still be rising over time until a time you can financially support another hire. If your revenue is not increasing, then increasing your headcount is likely going to make things worse, and more importantly, you should be questioning the viability of the business.
Yeah, duh. Apparently you do realize this tautologically obvious point despite your churlish and contrarian argumentation against it. The need to do risk analysis as it relates to potential pregnancy was the main thrust of the post that you dismissively replied to by saying that any business can do equally well with 9 employees as with 10 as if it were some kind of fundamental truth - despite that assertion being trivially easily disproven even by your own logic.
Risk analysis is not the same thing as "hire based on pregnancy status". The former is accounting and math. The latter is discrimination and illegal.
In this thread, there seems to be this perverse line of thinking that the ends justify the means ("can't afford to hire a pregnant person but a man will surely help me grow my business!"). If you're one of the people already doing this and trying to make excuses, fine, keep making excuses and doing illegal things, but realize you're part of the problem.
If losing that finger is a common and reasonable expectation in your society, yes.
With that kind of logic why should the company even bother hiring a 10th person?
Let's put it this way: if 9 people can only produce enough revenue to pay for themselves, it would be risky to take on a new large client if doing so required an upfront investment that completely depleted your cash reserves.
If things went south and you couldn't capitalize on your investment, you'd have no way to fund a pivot or a recovery strategy. If taking a new client only required a 10th of your bank and things went bad, it would still hurt but you'd have some breathing room. A new hire poses a similar risk.
Startups don't work this way in heavy industry, especially when jobs are on the line.
I envy you, actually.
> Startups don't work this way
Just because it's common nowadays to offload risks to early employees in startups doesn't make it less scummy. It's one thing to operate in guerrilla mode when it's two dudes in a garage struggling to get ramen profitable, but it's an entirely different ball game when one's hiding their inability to deliver with angel money and cruising on the back of a dozen employees.
My wife was let go from a startup shortly after returning from mat leave. The company went belly up a while later. It was already clear to me from her descriptions they were toying w/ people's expectations given there was no path to profitability, and a completely illogical hiring spree.
That's simply not how the vast majority of successful companies survive.