The latest in a string of organizations that have rolled out new and improved maternity leave policies is not in Silicon Valley, but the U.S. Capitol: The Pentagon.
Companies and organizations are finally taking steps to make the lives of working mothers a bit more manageable—and the latest group to do this is one that's hugely influential: The Pentagon has made some impressive changes to its policies.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced new family-friendly initiatives. In a move that will no doubt make military careers seem more realistic and attractive for women, female troops in all services are to receive 12 weeks of maternity leave. The move may have been made to attract a diverse group of military recruits, but the fact that it was put in place speaks volumes about a changing attitude towards women in the force—and in the workforce.
The new policy has set a standard for all services, which does reduce leave policies for women in the Navy and the Marines from 18 weeks to 12. However, the Army and Air Force previously afforded women just 6 weeks for maternity leave and will double that time under this new rule.
There have been changes to paternity leave as well: New fathers will receive 14 days instead of 10.
"This puts [the Defense Department] in the top tier of institutions nationwide," Carter said of the changes, according to USA Today. "It will have significant influence on decision-making for our military service members."
Though members of the Navy and Marines will have less time off under this change, Carter insists this doesn't represent a step backwards—instead, it balances the needs of mothers with the demands of the military.
"I concluded that 12 weeks of maternity leave across all of the force establishes the right balance between offering a highly competitive leave policy while also maintaining the readiness of our total force," Carter said.
But updated maternity leave policies aren't the only family-friendly initiatives to be put in place. The services will reportedly also offer day care hours, and posts with 50 or more people will be required to set up designated rooms for new mothers. Active duty troops will also have costs of freezing eggs or sperm covered.
Carter has held his post for about a year and has earned a reputation as someone who has made a mark on personnel policies.