Leader of the pack
Facebook’s senior benefits director, Renee Albert, has led the company’s move to offer employees generous paid parental, bereavement and caregiving leave — and a slew of other enviable benefits. But her most game-changing initiative is calling on other em
Senior benefits director Renee Albert has led Facebook’s move to offer employees generous paid parental, bereavement and caregiving leave — and a slew of other enviable benefits. But her most game-changing initiative is calling on other employers to do the same.
It’s a company that regularly collects Best Place to Work accolades and is known for its enviable employee perks. But ask Facebook’s senior benefits director what she is most proud of, and the answer might surprise you: being at the middle of the pack when it comes to benefits.
As Renee Albert tells it, being in the middle means that Facebook has set the bar high — and that other employers have caught up and even surpassed the social media giant.
“Four years ago, we were [one of] the leaders in parental leave. Now I think we have the most success if we start to fall to the middle of the market when we’ve been leading on something,” says Albert, who in her five years at Facebook has seen the company grow to its current size of more than 30,000 employees from approximately 6,300 employees in 2013.
A plethora of companies have followed in the footsteps of Facebook’s paid parental leave policy, which gives new moms and dads four months of leave at 100% pay. Some have raised the stakes even higher: Netflix allows its salaried employees, including birth and adoptive parents of any gender, a whopping year off at full pay following the birth or adoption of their child. Twitter gives 20 weeks of paid leave for both new moms and dads. And Airbnb gives birth mothers 22 paid weeks of maternity leave, while non-birth parents get 10 weeks.
The number of employers offering time off for new parents increased significantly between 2016 and 2018 for every type of parental leave, according to the latest figures from the Society for Human Resource Management.
“At the end of the day, we’ve redefined what the marketplace is,” Albert says. “And that’s the narrative that I think is so key and so important: People around the world are getting better parental leave because we were [among] the first to do it. I’m most proud when an employee complains to me and says we’re kind of middle of the market, and I say, ‘Yeah, that’s because we moved the market.’”
Facebook’s leading charge on benefits — and Albert’s spirit of collaboration — have earned her the title of Employee Benefit News’ 2018 Benefits Professional of the Year.
“Other companies watch what Facebook does,” says Terry Davidson, CEO of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, a nonpartisan group that counts more than 8,200 organizations and 32,000 individuals as members.
EBN’s Benefits Professional of the Year