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Apple and Facebook to fund egg freezing for female employees

Nurdianah Md Nur | Oct. 16, 2014
The move attempts to make tech companies friendlier to female talents in hopes of retaining them for longer.

Silicon Valley giants Facebook Inc and Apple have taken it a notch higher than their competitors to acquire top female talents.

On 14 October 2014, Reuters reported that both companies will pay for their female employees who want to freeze their eggs so that they can delay having children until later in their careers. Egg preservation is an expensive procedure. The process usually costs around US$10,000, with additional US$500 for storage annually, said Reuters.

Facebook has been covering the oocyte cryopreservation  procedure under its surrogacy benefits from January this year, reported The Guardian.  The social media giant's spokeswoman told Reuters that the benefit was rolled out in response to requests from employees, among other reasons.

Apple, on the other hand, will only start picking up the tab on bills up to US$20,000 for the egg freezing procedure and storage costs from January next year. In a press statement, Apple said that the move aims to "empower women at Apple to do to the best work of their lives as they care for their loved ones and raise their families."

Due to the war for talent in the tech industry, moves such as the above are aimed at making tech companies more family-friendly in hopes of retaining talents for longer. For instance, Apple recently introduced extended parental leave while Facebook offers four months of paid leave for both new mothers and fathers.

Given that egg freezing can be a controversial benefit, it is likely that these companies are bound to face criticism from certain groups in the society, commented Warwick Business School Professor of Human Resource Management James Hayton. "First, and perhaps more fundamentally, critics might note that while perks such as these are very impressive and innovative, broader pay equity might be an even stronger signal of the importance of women in the workforce. Second, especially in the United States, there might be a strong reaction from religious groups with a strong concern over the tricky domain of bio-ethics and reproductive choices. Third, observers may be squeamish about the degree of paternalism when employers show concern for their employees' reproductive choices."

However, Hayton added that the advantages of such benefits — in terms of attracting and retaining employees — will ultimately outweigh the costs and critcisms. "The positive PR will pay for itself by signalling these employers' values, with respect to women's control over this important life choice, to prospective female employees." 


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