Facebook and Apple AAPL -1.06% have both announced an uncommon program to help their women employees lean all the way in. The tech giants will now cover the cost of egg-freezing treatments for women (and their male partners) who want to delay their family plans in favor of advancing their careers.
Facebook began their program in January of this year, and Apple will begin offering the perk in early 2015. The oocyte cryopreservation procedure currently costs an estimated $10,000, with an average additional cost of $500 per year to maintain frozen egg storage. The companies, NBC News reports, will each offer up to $20,000 for the procedure under their health benefit programs for fertility and surrogacy.
The earlier a woman undergoes egg freezing treatments, the greater chance she has at harvesting fertile eggs, which is why women under the age of 30 tend to have greater success in becoming pregnant. As more women choose to pursue careers over families in their late twenties and early thirties, however, they face the obstacle of their diminishing potential to become pregnant later in life. In highly-competitive and thriving Silicon Valley in particular, young women are steadily becoming a larger part of the workforce and are choosing to dedicate their young adulthood to getting ahead in their careers. One cited reason for America’s gender pay gap is that women fall behind men in their careers when they take time off to raise children. This often happens during a point in their lives when their earning potential is about to climb much higher, which puts women at a disadvantage when they re-enter the workforce. Facebook and Apple, then, are providing an opportunity for women have more choices for family planning and therefore rise up more easily within company ranks.
A Bloomberg Businessweek cover story earlier this year pondered the benefits of freezing one’s eggs in order to free one’s career. Author Emma Rosenblum posited, “Imagine a world in which life isn’t dictated by a biological clock. If a 25-year-old banks her eggs and, at 35, is up for a huge promotion, she can go for it wholeheartedly without worrying about missing out on having a baby. She can also hold out for the man or woman of her dreams.”
There is undoubtedly a huge corporate benefit to this program as well, as Apple and Facebook are less likely to temporarily lose young, hungry female employees to child-rearing. In the fierce competition for talent in Silicon Valley, Facebook and Apple were already winners, but this new move to support the family and career goals of its employees may put them even farther in the lead for attracting career-driven women.