New parental leave guide to set standard for the VC industry
Diversity VC, Crowdcube and Frontline Ventures has announced the launch of the ‘Diversity VC: Parental Leave Guide’ as part of a collective of 25 top VC and tech firms. The guide, a first of its kind for the VC industry, aims to set the standard for parental leave policies and offers step-by-step advice on how VCs can create them. The guide is focused on the UK, and we hope the principals will be useful for other countries.
Support for working parents is crucial to attracting and retaining top talent. Many VC firms continue to underperform when it comes to parental leave and still do not have inclusive or updated policies.
According to a 2019 report, some VCs resorted to seeking advice about maternity leave on WhatsApp groups due to inadequate resources at work. From bonuses, flexible working arrangements, and paid miscarriage leave, to board seat policies for all parents, not just mothers, the guide is designed to be the single entry point for advice on setting and meeting an industry standard.
“We are all parents, children, siblings, friends and caretakers, just as much as we are employees, managers, and CEOs. Companies that recognise the importance of not only supporting - but celebrating - the personal dimensions of their teams will be the winners in the fight to attract and retain talent.” said Carolina Küng, Head of Platform at Frontline Ventures.
Statutory maternity pay in the UK is £151.97 per week for women for up to 39 weeks. By law firms have to pay 90% of women’s wages for the first six weeks of maternity leave but they can opt to do so for longer. Men meanwhile are entitled to just two weeks of paid paternity leave.
UK government initiatives to encourage working parents to share parental leave more evenly has seen low up-take among men in all sectors, and VCs are no exception. Disproportionate parental leave means those who take longer generally miss career and pay progression opportunities. Many women report feeling their careers suffer after having children as a result of this. In 2019 less than 3% of all investment went to companies led by women. This lack of investment in female-founded startups has also been attributed to fewer senior women VCs - for example, 85% of investment committees are all male.
The guide contains candid stories from leading VCs about their own experiences of managing their careers and becoming parents. It includes best-practice tips on what to offer employees before, during and after their period of parental leave, and access to practical tools such as a calculator for estimating the cost to a firm of an individual’s leave.
“The more we can make parental leave everyone’s issue, rather than just women, the easier I believe it will be for women to progress their careers, whether they have children or not!” said Alice Bentinck, Founder and CEO of Entrepreneur First.
“We’re really pleased to be publishing this resource today alongside Frontline and Crowdcube. We frequently get asked by VC fund partners, or the sole female employee of a VC fund to help them write a parental leave policy. This guide has been written after numerous conversations with parents in the VC industry sharing their first hand experiences, positive and negative, of taking parental leave. We hope that this becomes a guide used widely in both the VC industry and the tech industry more broadly.” - Check Warner, CEO & co-founder Diversity VC.
“Allocating time and resources to developing appropriate policies in early stage businesses can be challenging and costly. We wanted to create a resource to support companies in ensuring they have a sustainable and effective policy in place.” Meg Karidis, Partnerships Lead at Crowdcube and Guide author
The world of work has changed, and as companies move towards a hybrid working environment, policies need to be flexible and appropriate for family life. In particular when it comes to Parental Leave.
Support for the Diversity VC: Parental Leave Guide has been provided by Diversity VC partners Cooley LLP and OneTech.
You can find the guidebook here.