Why you should care
Because families are not one-size-fits-all.
OZY and JPMorgan Chase have partnered to take a deeper look at how businesses can impact society for the better. Enjoy the rest of our special series here.
Like many people, Allison Steinberg was understandably nervous when she started her new job. But Steinberg, Vice President of Communications at JPMorgan Chase, was convinced she had additional reasons for apprehension: she is a lesbian and was pregnant. “I was coming in new to a job at this big bank, which I knew was going to be intense, so I was really scared,” Steinberg recalls. But to her relief, the workplace has been incredibly supportive. Steinberg was encouraged by JPMorgan Chase’s parents@jpmc program to take advantage of the company’s Adoption and Surrogacy Assistance Policy, which provides significant financial support for employees going through the adoption or surrogacy process. And thanks to that recommendation, Steinberg has now saved thousands, making it easier to support her family.
Since her first day in October 2016, Steinberg has benefited from a number of JPMorgan Chase’s programs and policies that are designed to help all employees pursue fulfilling careers as well as rich personal lives. For example, when Steinberg had her baby, she and her wife had to go through a complex legal process to ensure they both had legal parental rights over their son. Steinberg received legal support through the company’s voluntary benefits plan, helping her save thousands when it came time to navigate the second parent adoption process.
Fortunately, many companies are implementing valuable inclusive policies for same-sex couples — from increased parental leave to more flexible adoption policies. For instance, General Electric (GE) offers six weeks of paid leave for secondary caregiver employees — which applies to all employees, regardless of location, sexual orientation or how they came to have their baby (natural birth, adoption, surrogacy, etc.).
In fact, according to a 2015 study in Human Resource Management, LGBT-friendly corporate policies are also friendly to the corporate bottom line. By making LGBT employees feel welcome and accepted, companies foster a culture of inclusivity for all employees, leading to better retention rates. Even better, according to the study, investors appreciate companies that adopt such inclusive policies.
Laura Durso, Vice President of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, says that in today’s tight labor market, LGBT-friendly policies are an important way to retain valuable, skilled talent. “Well before nationwide marriage equality, there were companies recognizing domestic partner benefits and offering the same kinds of benefits to same-sex spouses,” Durso points out. The validation that families come in all shapes and sizes helped pave the way for the inclusive policies we see today.
Back at JPMorgan Chase, Steinberg is continually encouraged by the steady push towards inclusivity in the workplace. “You need to have inclusive policies and a culture that backs it that up to create a supportive environment for your employees so it’s a place they want to work and feel proud to work,” she says of employers. From all indications, companies like JPMorgan Chase are leading the charge when it comes to implementing policies and programs that benefit all employees. Fortunately, momentum is building to a point where such policies are the norm, not the exception. And that would be good news for all.