It didn’t take long after first reports that Facebook and Apple will now cover the cost of elective egg freezing by female employees that the chorus of concern began to mount. Consternation ranged from “If the cost of egg freezing is no longer a barrier, will women feel forced to delay child-rearing to advance in their careers?” to “Does this give employers the excuse to sustain the rigid 1950s career model that undermines the ability to flexibly combine work and family?”
Yet much of this discussion misses the mark. Yes, if egg freezing was a standalone benefit, women might feel pressured into putting off motherhood in favor of advancement. And perhaps the momentum to create more supportive and flexible work cultures would wane. But that is not the case at either Facebook or Apple. At both workplaces, the new perk is part of a comprehensive work-life strategy that includes lengthy maternity — and paternity – leave plus childcare subsidies.
Moreover, egg freezing is a valuable option to the women who want it. By offering to cover the cost of egg freezing, Silicon Valley is responding to the young, tech-savvy female workforce it wants to attract and retain.
Life, and by extension the workplace, will always be messy and unpredictable. Couples are still going to have babies right now, and the aging parents of valuable employees are still going to require eldercare today. To keep your best talent throughout all stages of their career, work flexibility, caregiving leaves, and dependent care also have to be part of the package.
And, if you are one of the women who take advantage of this benefit, this is not as simple as freezing your eggs and then forgetting about them. This route requires some ownership, too. Have a plan. Be thoughtful about managing your life so that, when the time is right, you’ve advanced in your career the way you’ve wanted to, your finances are where you want them to be, and you have the partner or other personal supports in place to take on motherhood and work.
Advances in technology, like egg freezing, expand the options that let us fit work and life together based upon our unique realities and goals. But we only realize that potential if those benefits are part of an organization’s broader work-life goals and an individual’s personal plan for success — on and off the job.Cali Williams Yost is CEO and founder of the Flex+Strategy Group and Work+Life Fit Inc. and author of the book “Tweak It: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day.”