Building a great company culture includes offering strong benefits to employees and great benefit programs that are comprehensive, transparent, and clearly defined. Cockroach Labs excels at this in many regards, and our Parental Leave and Family Support are no exception. CRL understands that every family is unique, recognizing the importance of extending eligibility to not only the birth of an employee’s biological child, but also to any employee who is in the process of adopting or fostering. The support is robust, starting before a parent’s leave period and continuing well after the employee returns to work. With that said, I would be remiss if I didn’t outline what’s “on the books” to support our employees as they prepare for their new addition:
With a parental leave program for all parents, we make it possible for parents of every gender to share in the joys and responsibilities of welcoming a child. The fact that parents have up to a year to take leave after welcoming their new family member allows Roachers and their families flexibility in arranging childcare, too.
That said, policies are only meaningful if they are supported, normalized, and championed. And this is the difference between simply describing our Parental Leave policy and actually telling my Parental Leave journey and experience. So here’s my story..
I started at Cockroach Labs just over three years ago, in October of 2018. My wife and I had done the “have kids and move to the suburbs” after nearly a decade of city living. The trade-off for space was a 90-minute door-to-door commute assuming everything went perfectly. When discussing this with my manager, Lindsay Grenawalt, she gave me my first glimpse into how CRL supports our working parents and truly embraces our core value of Balance. It turns out our CTO/Co-founder Peter Mattis had a similar schedule and marked the time on his calendar (~5pm) that he needed to leave the office to make the train. In an industry where there is all too often a toxic badge of honor worn by those who stay the latest and work the most hours, it was a breath of fresh air. In my experience when policies, values, and culture aren’t embraced by the leadership team they never permeate throughout the rest of the organization. I am forever grateful to my fellow Roachers for always honoring my calendar block, and on more than one occasion even reminding me that it was time to go!
Parental Leave is an amazing and far-too-rare benefit to offer employees in the US. Even if it’s in the handbook, it’s meaningless without an existing culture that supports parents and balance in general. It has been reinforced repeatedly during my time here that Peter’s mindset was the norm, not the exception. Another example was when our Chief Architect/Co-Founder Ben Darnell had his first child and took the Parental Leave time in full. Actions like that are powerful— they do far more than any words or policy do in nurturing a healthy environment.
Interestingly enough, the actual Parental Leave period is something I have very little to discuss as it pertains to this piece. I could go on for pages about the time spent bonding with our newest addition Asher, and helping his big brother Ezra acclimate to the changes. There’s no shortage of incredible, challenging, and surprising memories that came up during those 3+ months I was offline. But if I can share a secret - as amazing a company as Cockroach Labs is, it wasn’t on my mind at all. I put up my out-of-office, closed down my laptop, and removed Slack from my phone. For me, Parental Leave in practice was a success exactly for those reasons: I could focus my energy and attention on my family knowing three things for certain:
Being a working parent always comes with challenges. And having a newborn in August of 2020 when we were facing unprecedented changes to our world added innumerable new wrinkles. But I can say, without question, that Cockroach Labs allowed me to be a dedicated father and husband while also working in an industry and job that I love. I can’t imagine doing that anywhere else.
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