As the Community Lead at Kindred, I was recently tasked with creating a parental leave policy for the firm. I found the mechanics of pulling together a policy framework pretty straightforward (happy to share our template), then the team all weighed in on scope.
I’ve been at Kindred for about a year now and I’m regularly reminded that this is not a conventional venture capital firm. Since day zero, the team have tried to take a blank sheet of paper, apply first principles thinking, and always put people first. So, this policy is not based on what might be ‘expected’ of a firm of our size and stage, but rather based entirely on what we think is right. I’m sharing it here in the hopes that we can do our part to ‘shift the default’ for parental leave. There is a long way to go!
We have introduced an 18 month programme for expectant parents — treating both future mums and dads completely equally. It entails 4 months of full pay, followed by 5 months of statutory pay, and 3 months unpaid. At any point during their leave, parents can choose to return to work on a reduced 4 day schedule up to 18 months from the date their leave started, for full pay. The programme allows for all new parents to pursue a more balanced, financially realistic work-life journey.
This “burn-in” period allows parents to re-engage with their career in a significant way and pick up the majority, if not all, of their key responsibilities, while spending an extra day at home each week. They’ll earn full compensation and pay for one less day of childcare.
I should be clear, we don’t expect 5 days of work in 4. We trust the new mother or father to fulfil core obligations to Kindred and we trust the rest of the team to respect the reduced workloads. We expect the company to actually benefit from this, forcing us to evaluate priorities and improve efficiency and teamwork.
As early stage investors we say we’re in the human capital business, not the financial capital business. This feels like the right thing to do, but it also makes strong business sense.
- Finding the right talent is critical to success. Fair policies can help attract top talent. Happy, rested employees tend to stick around longer.
- Equal opportunity leave helps minimise the negative impact on a woman’s career for taking time out for both childbirth and childcare.
- Integrating returners (primarily mothers) back into the workforce following a period of leave means we’ll keep more senior women in business. More senior women in VC means more female entrepreneurs funded and companies with a female founder and a female exec will hire 6x more women on average.
- If expectations change to make it “ok” (or ideally, a given) for fathers to take leave, families benefit by sharing parental and financial responsibilities based on their strengths, not pre-defined gender roles.
As we invest in tech companies that are transforming and building markets, it’s our job to constantly challenge what great looks like. When you found a company, you have the opportunity to construct the world around you — create a value-system that you believe in, work only with people who inspire and challenge you, and practice your craft in the most authentic way. We don’t have to be constrained by what has been done before and we are committed to setting an example that we are truly proud of. We’ll help our portfolio companies to do the same.
To find out what others are doing, check out this great study and maternity leave guide by our friends at Frontline. We’re also interested to hear what others are up to. Feel free to get in touch and let us know!