The headline (like many these days) was provocative: 'Inside Apple's New Campus: No Childcare But You Can Freeze Your Eggs.' Sure, the new campus is beautiful and innovative. But for a company like Apple to have such conflicting benefits? It seems like a bad business and bad PR move.
The overall subtext seems obvious--Apple wants employees who can work as long and hard as possible. And the campus is largely male-dominated given its heavy, engineer-laden workforce. But is that a bad thing? If you're a parent who works (or wants to work) at Apple, or a proponent of inclusion at any level, sure.
As an Apple customer and new mom back at work today after my maternity leave, I'm greatly disappointed. But as a company CEO and employer brand strategist, I'm not.
Every day as a business leader is a choice to balance what's best for the business and what's best for our morals and ethics. As a business, Apple's leadership is surely looking at the current workforce demographics as part of its decision-making process. It might also be looking to see what others are doing (in 2016 only 3% of companies were offering unsubsidized healthcare) as a bellwether of need. But it also might be looking at employee data: maybe employees don't want on-site childcare. Perhaps they prefer other benefits or rewards. We can't assume the internal inputs that have gone into the decision.
Most importantly though, maybe they don't want to attract employees who care about this.
Controversial, sure, but successful companies know that their employment experience has to align with the business. And if Apple thinks onsite childcare might affect business (distraction, reduced work hours) then it makes sense why they're offering the benefits in this way. Hire employees who have no or limited familial distractions now. Is it fair? Is it right? That's up to each of us individually to decide.
In 2015, the Internet went wild over an expose over Amazon's workplace practices. At the time, their stock was hovering around $520/share. Today, it's over $1000. Employment experience and workplace rewards and benefits are business decisions. The company leadership has to walk the line when business strategy conflicts with what they perceive to be 'right.' If an organization is prioritizing simply what's best for the bottom line, that's their choice.
It's up to the consumer--of the product, service or employment experience--to send the message. If you don't like it, don't buy it or don't work there.
All of that said, each and every one of us has our own perception of values in the workplace. And it's up to us to espouse them.
During my recent my two-month maternity leave, I can honestly say I worked at my job minimally during that time. Instead, I primarily worked at being a new mom. And my colleagues went the extra mile to make sure I could do that.
It's not that we're attracting talent at exaqueo that wants to work less, or sees work as a clock-in, clock-out scenario. Instead, we attract employees who hustle and work hard but efficiently. Employees who step up when their colleagues need to briefly step out. We care deeply about our clients, but our families are paramount to our lives. However, our commitment to our colleagues, clients and the business means when family has to come first for one of us, the rest of the team is there to step in.
Just as Apple and Amazon make the choices that are best for their business, we have specific values here at ours. While they may inhibit our profits or growth at times, as the company leader, I've made that choice. But I wouldn't have it any other way, and I'm not sure #JrLaMotte or #LilLaMotte would either. I'm glad to be back to a business that works for me and my family.
Susan LaMotte (@SusanLaMotte) is the founder and CEO of exaqueo, an employer brand experience firm building employer brands and the talent strategies that drive them through research, consulting and creative and digital execution. Contact exaqueo to learn more about our employer brand innovation, workforce research and recruiting strategy offerings.