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Facebook, Apple & Egg Freezing: Self-serving Corporate Strategy or Supportive Gesture Toward Women? - Blog - Empowered IVF

Facebook, Apple & Egg Freezing: Self-serving Corporate Strategy or Supportive Gesture Toward Women?

Lab technicianThe recent announcements by Facebook and Apple that they would be offering their female employees financial support for egg freezing by way of a health benefit set off an odd response, in my opinion. Many people reacted with outrage and cynicism; it must be a self-serving corporate strategy designed to keep women focused on the demands of the workplace so they would not be distracted by the responsibilities of motherhood, they said.

I did not share that reaction, which felt to me like a “rush to judgment”. Before drawing any conclusion, I believe the public must view this new employee benefit through a wider lens, in the context of all of the benefits Facebook and Apple offer to their employees, with a particular focus on benefits that relate to reproduction, maternity, paternity, adoption and childcare. How could anyone reasonably conclude that these corporations have engaged in an evil conspiracy against women in the workplace, without first asking if they have a history of demonstrating, through their employee benefit policies, that they are supportive of their employees’ efforts to balance the demands of the workplace with the demands of family building? Before we react with outrage, don’t we have an obligation to determine whether, in addition to offering this new egg freezing benefit, they also offer benefits that provide financial assistance to employees who want children immediately or already have them? For example, do they provide health benefit plans that cover the significant cost of in-vitro fertilization for employees who are struggling with infertility or who are gay and require assisted reproduction to have children who are genetically related to them? Will their health benefit plans cover the cost of IVF for employees who have frozen their eggs with the company’s financial support? (I certainly hope so, since a woman’s frozen eggs will be of no use to her if the IVF procedure, which is required to use them, is beyond her financial reach.) Do Facebook and Apple provide drug plans that cover the cost of the expensive fertility drugs, which are required for IVF? Do they have policies in place to help employees with the cost of adopting? Do they offer paid maternity and parental leave to their employees upon the birth or adoption of a baby, more generous than the leaves they are required to provide by law? What kind of benefits do they offer to women who experience pre-birth complications? Do they offer an on-site childcare option?

I believe it is only once these questions are asked and answered that we can properly evaluate the motivation behind Facebook’s and Apple’s recent gestures relating to egg freezing. If we learn that their health benefits reflect a corporate culture that embraces family, I don’t see how anyone can justify the cynical reaction that exploded in the media and on the Internet. I, for one, will choose to view this new benefit as a supportive gesture toward women and an effort on the part of Facebook and Apple to ensure that their health benefits are in step with the rapidly developing world of reproductive technology in which the experimental label was only recently removed from egg freezing.

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