Goldman Sachs to give all new parents 20 weeks paid leave

Goldman Sachs (GS) is updating a handful of its policies around family planning, and plans to offer all new parents — regardless of caregiver status — the same 20 weeks paid parenting leave, according to a firm-wide memo sent on Monday.

According to a memo obtained exclusively by Yahoo Finance, all new parents — whether through birth, surrogacy or adoption — will receive the same paid parenting leave time that applies to their office location, regardless of gender or caregiver status, the Wall Street giant's new policy states.

Additionally, this new global parenting leave policy will be 20 weeks — an increase from 16 weeks in the U.S., Asia Pacific and a number of other locations around the world, Goldman added.

To be sure, some locations require by law mandatory paid parental leave that's more than 20 weeks. Yet with its new policy, Goldman Sachs now appears to rank near the top among companies offering equal paid parenting leave.

Presently, the United States is the only developed country that doesn't mandate that companies provide income support during maternity or parental leave, meaning new parents are reliant upon their employers.

‘A big change’

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon speaks on a panel at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, U.S., October 18, 2019. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan

The move by Goldman is part of the firm's broader strategy to attract and retain talent in a fiercely competitive battle for workplace talent.

"I really believe in the fundamental foundational premise [of expanding the benefits], and I really believe that Goldman Sachs is blessed to have extraordinary people throughout this organization," CEO David Solomon told Yahoo Finance in a phone interview.

"It's always been able to attract really great talent. The world is a very competitive place, and if you want great people in your organization, you have to take care of them, you have to have a culture that is open, and inclusive, and inviting and supportive,” he added.

“That's what makes Goldman Sachs stronger. I'm encouraging this because having employees who feel taken care of benefits Goldman Sachs and its stakeholders,” the CEO said.

Solomon added that having a child is an "amazing event" and in a diverse workforce, "it's really important that you try to give people the right flexibility so that they can focus on the initial challenges of having a child."

"Twenty weeks is a big change, but it's actually not a huge change if you put it in the context of the medium or long term to come," he added.

One of the challenges will be encouraging the firm's busy bankers and traders to take advantage of the updated policy. Solomon expects that many will use the paid leave, and some won't.

Solomon, along with the firm's leadership, will be tasked with setting the tone at the top around offering.

"I do think a lot of people will take advantage of the benefits. And I think people should take advantage of the benefits. But at the end of the day, it's a personal choice. It's different for different people,” he told Yahoo Finance.

“Certainly, the top leadership of this firm is encouraging people to take advantage of the support that we're offering around the life event of having a child. I think we do have that kind of culture,” he said.

It's something that Solomon would personally encourage new parents to take.

"If someone were talking to me personally [about whether they should take the leave], I would say to them, 'It's such a special time in your life, go take advantage of it and do what you can to support your family. We're offering this benefit because we think it's something that will benefit you both in the short run and in the long run.'"

New help for adoption, surrogacy

In addition to extending paid leave, Goldman also announced a new program called "Pathways to Parenthood," which increased existing stipends for adoption and surrogacy and added new stipends for egg retrieval and egg donation.

Under that program, stipends for adoption will increase from $5,000 to $10,000 and $5,000 to $20,000 for surrogacy. The new stipends for egg retrieval will be $10,000 and egg donation $20,000.

The new changes were in response to Goldman's global "People Survey, which showed that many LGBT employees wanted a comparable benefit with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

Another insight gleaned from the survey is that in some parts of the world — in India, in particular —there's a different obligation around the care for elderly parents. As a result, Goldman added paid family care leave globally of four weeks to deal with "a serious health condition, military deployment, or foster placement."

Upon taking the helm a year ago, Solomon set out to make inclusion and diversity a top priority. His agenda included hiring diverse entry-level candidates and holding business unit heads accountable for making sure there were more diverse candidates for promotions to senior positions.

He views the updated benefits as part of that initiative.

"I feel good about the progress we are making [on diversity]. I feel good about the way the leadership team across the partnership is really embracing the priority of making strides around diversity and inclusion in this organization. We have more work to do, but I certainly feel like it's the right focus, the right intention, and the right progress," Solomon said.

Julia La Roche is a Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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