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Employee Benefits Packages Are Under Fire – A Closer Look at Parental Leave

There’s no denying medical sales, like numerous other industries, has made progress regarding equal opportunity across genders. Yet, we can’t help but stress there is plenty of room for improvement. Although you’re likely used to hearing about the pay and advancement gap for women in the industry, all genders could benefit from a closer look at bias and equality, especially when it comes to parenthood.

For example, one of the most significant components that can play into inequalities for men in the workforce is the assumption that men continue working while women take care of newborn children. Furthermore, same-sex parents are often not even considered when employers construct their employee benefits package.

Holding potential employers to high expectations of parental leave and adoption assistance establishes a more adequate standard for meeting employee needs. After all, everyone wants reassurance they are working for a company that cares about family values and gender equality.

You likely agree, employers who are dismissive of those needs aren’t worth working for. Even if you aren’t planning on having kids, parental leave provisions are a good litmus test to gauge a company’s values and views on equality and work-life balance.

Here are three reasons you should prioritize potential employers that offer parental leave in their employee benefits package: 

Work-life balance is not a gender topic

This is not a common or popular perspective, but only offering maternity leave as a family benefit penalizes women in the workplace. It can hinder their opportunities for advancement and how they’re perceived. 

Women can choose not to use the full extent of their maternity benefits. However, even if they quickly return to work, their performance and mental health can suffer from having no other option than to leave their newborn in the hands of a daycare worker, extended family member, or friend. 

Normalizing leave for both parents levels the playing field. For example, their partners can choose to stay home for a few weeks while the new mother transitions back to work stress-free. And they gain a benefit deprived of many fathers, non-biological, and adoptive parents — bonding with their new baby.

This is just a small margin as an example, but according to our 2021 Medical Sales Salary Report, less than half (42%) of men receive paternity leave. This is surprisingly low considering the disproportionate representation of males to females in the industry — this year’s respondents: 68% male and 32% female. 

Offering parental leave benefits empowers all employees to choose how to balance their parental responsibilities and well-being rather than placing the burden exclusively on women. And by making it acceptable for everyone to take time off to care for their new child, no one is prohibited from seeking work-life balance with a new baby at home.

Investment in family life is more than a “perk” 

When an employer invests in their workers, they recognize parents come to work for more than a paycheck. They show up to support their family. Unfortunately, a study by Qualtrics and theBoardlist revealed that nearly half (45%) of working parents feel discriminated against for focusing on their families.

Generous parental leave policies demonstrate the employer encourages employees to have an active role in raising their families. These benefits should cover the addition of biological, adopted, and even foster children. After all, everyone reaches the milestone of parenthood in different but equally important ways.

Keep in mind, however, offering equal family and parental leave to all employees shouldn’t be flashy perks employers use to attract talent in the same way they market a game room or snack bar in branding materials. Evidence of these benefits showing up organically in social media, community events, and on the company’s website prove employers have made ‘family’ a part of their company values. That’s a benefit of working for a company anyone can get behind.

Family benefits should support single and LGBTQ+ parents

This fact is by far the most important argument for improvements in benefits offered to parents:

Maternity leave as a sole parental benefit does not serve the needs of all modern family structures. 

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and parents come in different genders, gender identities, sexualities, and marital statuses. Offering only maternity benefits to biological mothers marginalizes the greater majority of parents in the workforce. 

In fact, our 2021 Medical Sales Salary Report revealed only 28% of medical sales reps receive adoption assistance. Even more unfortunate, that number has only been reportable in the last three years, as it was not previously offered to enough reps to be considered significant or credible. Even still, adoption assistance is a small step in the right direction.

The rise in benefits like adoption assistance, family leave, flexible work, and unlimited PTO shows that employers recognize the need for adequate support for their working parents. Providing parental benefits as diverse and equitable as companies strive to offer in equal pay and employment opportunities is the next great leap toward taking down gender barriers in medical sales.

Find out what other benefits medical sales employers are offering across the United States: