Goldman Sachs' gift to its fathers

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Goldman Sachs is changing its parental leave policy, starting from last week.

In a memo sent to employees today from David Solomon, John Waldron and Stephen Scherr, the firm announced a new paid parental leave policy of at least 20 weeks globally, applicable to all new parents, irrespective of gender or caregiver status.

The move will entitle new fathers at Goldman Sachs to the same amount of paid parental leave as mothers, whether or not they are the primary caregivers. Adoptive parents and surrogates will also benefit from the policy.

Goldman's change marks a significant departure parental leave policies at rival banks, which have typically attempted to be gender neutral by allowing either parent to take long leave if they are the primary caregiver. At Goldman, however, both parents can take paid time off, regardless of who spends most time looking after the child. New fathers will be the likely beneficiaries. Male bankers who previously only got 20 weeks off (or less) when they were between jobs, will now get the same for each child.

Until now, paid paternity leave at Goldman Sachs in London was limited to four weeks (but with the option to share 52 weeks' unpaid parental leave). At JPMorgan, a primary caregiver is entitled to 16 weeks' paid leave, but non-primary givers only get six. In May the Financial Times reported that Citi and Morgan Stanley were offering non-primary caregivers eight weeks and up to four weeks' paid leave, respectively. Only Bank of America had a policy like Goldman's, with 16 weeks' paid parental leave offered to all parents, including those who adopt. 

Goldman's new 20-week paid parental leave period is the global minimum and marks a four-week increase on the 16-week entitlement previously given to its employees in Asia Pacific and the U.S.. In the UK, all new parents at Goldman are now entitled to a full 26 weeks' paid leave. If a new mother and a new father are both working for the firm, they can each take the time off.

The new policy is part of a package of changes that were implemented on 1 November following Goldman's last employee survey. Other initiatives include a 'Pathways to Parenthood' scheme which increases the stipends Goldman pays for employees' egg retrieval and donation to $10k and $20k, respectively, where permitted by law, and hikes the amounts paid for adoption and surrogacy. The firm is also introducing the possibility of four weeks of paid family care leave globally. 

The changes follow a successful law suit brought against JPMorgan in May 2019 by fathers at the bank who said they were being denied access to the bank's 16 weeks primary caregiver leave because they men. JPMorgan settled for $5m. In Tokyo, Glen Wood, a Canadian equity salesman, is currently taking Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley to court in an attempt to get his job back after a year's paternity leave. 

It remains to be seen whether Goldman's new fathers will avail themselves of the firm's gift. Taking long paternity leave has long been seen as detrimental to banking careers. “It’s the kiss of death,” Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide, told us last year. "You won’t be perceived as disloyal, but others may begin to question your commitment.” - Not if everyone's doing the same thing, they won't.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


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