Egg Freezing: The Latest Perk Turning Heads in Silicon Valley

Posted by Kim Peters on October 31 2014

Facebook and Apple have recently gone beyond the realm of $4,000 baby bonuses and six-week paternity leaves in their quest to entice highly skilled, family-minded employees. By January, both will also chip in up to $20,000 toward the cost of egg freezing, a procedure that allows women to increase the likelihood of a successful pregnancy later in life. Egg freezing.

Coverage for fertility treatments – often an out-of-pocket expense – is already a benefit among exceptional workplaces in sectors as diverse as hospitality and mortgage lending. Likewise, more companies are offering family-friendly programs like job sharing, transitional schedules for new mothers, nursing rooms and flexible work arrangements. Ever-eager to set themselves apart, though, two of Silicon Valley's most prominent employers are lending further support to their employees deciding when and how to start families. The practice of extracting and freezing eggs for future use is not new, nor particularly widespread. But NBC News reported recently that an increasing number of professional women are storing their eggs as a way to allay concerns about fertility problems if they decide to start a family in their late 30s or 40s. Each procedure costs $7,000 to $12,000, along with as much as $1,000 per year for storage. Apple will help cover those costs under its benefit for fertility treatments beginning next year, and Facebook recently began covering them under its benefits for surrogacy.

Unlike other fertility treatments for employees with trouble conceiving, though, public reaction to egg freezing benefits has been mixed. Critics argue that it sends an intrusive message to women that the company would rather they avoid pregnancy in their 20s and 30s for the sake of their work. On the other hand, many women who've frozen their eggs say they feel empowered by the fact that concerns about fertility are less of a factor as they pursue their professional ambitions. As with any change to health benefits, how it's received in the workforce will depend heavily on how much people trust their employers.

For example, professionals in demanding jobs at companies with little flexibility for parents may well see funding for egg freezing as an unwanted invitation to sacrifice personal goals for professional ones. At another organization, though, that benefit would likely be seen as yet another over-the-top perk for employee health (think companies like SAS, which folds a comprehensive daycare and an employee clinic into its luxe headquarters, or Google, which covers alternative medicine and offers its famous napping pods.) It would be great to know what employees at Facebook and Apple have to say about the culture that shapes these benefits and how they've been received to date. In any case, this new discussion at the intersection of work and family life underlines yet again how important it is to research the reputation of potential employers using resources like Great Rated and others.

Kim Peters is CEO of Great Rated! at Great Place to Work.