Tamara Mellon was recently thinking about Mother’s Day and how the treatment of women in the workplace has a direct impact on the children they raise, so she decided to recognize companies that are raising the bar on maternal benefits.
The former chief creative officer and cofounder of Jimmy Choo created Friends With Benefits, an initiative that calls out firms offering outstanding benefits for mothers and women who might want to become mothers.
Patagonia, which pays for caregivers to accompany new mothers on business trips; Netflix, paid parental leave for the first year after a birth or adoption; Spotify, covering costs for egg freezing and fertility assistance, and Estée Lauder, updating its maternity leave policy to include adoptive mothers, were chosen by Mellon. A fifth company will be recognized through crowdsourcing. Women can nominate their employers on Instagram, explaining why the benefits for mothers are innovative. Mellon said Pandora and Maverick are among the early trending firms.
Mellon, whose footwear company is 18 months old, will give up to 50 pairs of Frontline shoes to the women at the company that gets the most nominations. “I thought picking the companies we think are doing a great job and also have a public contest and allow people to nominate their own companies was a fun idea,” she said.
“As a young company, it’s important to look to other businesses that are investing in and paving the way for working women,” Mellon said. “We’ve been studying companies to see which ones have good practices in place.”
Mellon’s eponymous luxury footwear brand offers some impressive benefits for a young company, including unlimited paid time off for infertility treatment and fertility preservation and a minimum of three months maternity leave at full pay, and up to six months based on tenure.
“I think MeToo and Time’s Up has made everybody wake up,” Mellon said. “We had a feminist revolution in the early Seventies with Gloria Steinem, and made great progress, but it felt like everything went quiet for a long time and no one was pushing things forward for women.
Mellon on Equal Pay Day, which was April 10, offered online shoppers of the Tamara Mellon web site a 20 percent discount to represent the 20 percent pay gap between what men and women earn. She said the discount will decrease as the pay gap closes.
“We’re deeply committed to women’s issues,” she said. “We also understand that the largest impact will come from many companies working together. This will build a culture that supports working women in all areas, from diversity in leadership, to pay equity, to maternal benefits.
“When I had Minty [the nickname of her daughter Araminta] when I was at Jimmy Choo, I would pay to take her with me on business trips,” Mellon said. “We have a mother’s room for breastfeeding. We’re less than 25 employees and 90 percent are women. Our ceo has two daughters.”