Super high-growth social media startup Linktree has unveiled its 18-week parental leave policy, with a focus on creating a “seamless experience” for all parents and changing the narrative among Aussie businesses.
Rather than having just one parental leave policy, Linktree has developed a whole program, spanning the time leading up to the leave, right through to after new parents return.
The scheme is designed to take “a very holistic approach” to parental leave, Linktree’s global head of people and culture Isa Notermans tells SmartCompany.
While the leave itself is incredibly important for new parents, when it comes to navigating work, “the most stressful times are actually the moment you’re about to step away from your role … and the moment you come back”, she says.
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The policy is designed to “build a bridge between all those pieces, so it feels like a seamless experience”, she adds.
It includes 18 weeks of paid leave for all new parents, regardless of gender and family constructs.
Employees will be able to access flexible working and paid leave for IVF treatment or fertility appointments, as well as for antenatal appointments, and will have access to an employee assistance program focused on perinatal and postnatal health.
Leave provisions for stillbirth and infant loss will also be provided for all parents.
While parents are on leave, they will have access to 10 ‘keep-in-touch- days, while managers and leaders can access additional training and tools.
And on their return, they will have access to a $500 stipend to cover anything from new remote office setups to expressing devices.
Employees will also have access to professional coaching to help them “recalibrate” as they return to the business, Notermans adds.
The policy also has a “soft landing” built in. When new parents return to the workplace, they will have a month of fully flexible working hours, allowing them to figure out their new rhythm and new working style around their growing family.
“We can get the best and the most out of our people, for them to do the best work of their lives, if they have the flexibility to do so.”
Setting a standard
For Notermans, this policy represents an important aspect of Linktree’s “diversity effort toolkit”.
It’s about improving gender equity, but also about recognising that parents come in all different forms and different family constructs.
“We really wanted to ensure that what we were doing was progressive, that it was inclusive and that it really set the new standard for how parental leave should be,” she says.
This is particularly important for a startup like Linktree, she suggests. It’s growing fast, and it’s a major player in Australia’s burgeoning tech scene.
That brings a sense of responsibility not only to keep up with expectations around equity and inclusivity, but to set them.
In a male-dominated sector, policies like this one go some way towards making tech a welcoming and safe space for women, while also highlighting parental leave as something men should be paying attention to.
In fact, Linktree’s policy is also designed to encourage secondary carers — often fathers — to take their leave allowance in long stretches of time.
Having men take two weeks out here and there is “not really changing the dynamic”, Notermans says.
Currently, women make up 42% of Linktree’s employees. And Notermans’ goal is to get that to 50% by the end of the year.
“We want to maintain that,” she says.
“This is one way we feel we can achieve that.”
A starting point
While Linktree now has some 14 million users all over the world, it still has fewer than 100 employees. This is a relatively early stage to be implementing policies like this one.
“This is a starting point for us, we know it will evolve over time,” Notermans says.
As the business grows, she intends to consult with the parents working within it, and to add new elements based on what they need.
This is a startup, after all. Agility is built into its DNA.
“We want to attract the best talent that’s out there,” she explains.
“We want to retain the best talent, and we want to drive the agenda forward when it comes to equity.”