A conversation with Wunderkind Senior Director of Talent Acquisition and new mom, Juls Fleury.
Did you know that one in every four moms returns to work just ten days or less after giving birth? The U.S. is staggeringly behind in offering comprehensive paid family leave policies, which not only impacts the health and happiness of new mothers, but that of their baby and partner.
In this interview, Juls Fleury, a new mom and the Director of Talent Acquisition at Wunderkind, discusses the importance of paid family leave for primary and secondary caregivers as well as Wunderkind’s world-class leave policy.
WHY IS PAID FAMILY LEAVE SO IMPORTANT?
Juls: At this point, I think (or I hope) that most people realize that women’s bodies need a lot of time to heal after giving birth, but one thing we still don’t talk about enough is the stress that having a child puts on your mental health. With the possibility of postpartum depression, we have to let new moms have time to care for themselves. If we’re not giving people the time they need–and that includes leave for secondary caregivers as well–we’re risking the health of both child and mother.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WISH PEOPLE UNDERSTOOD ABOUT MATERNITY LEAVE?
Juls: The new routine is challenging, and often people don’t realize just how big a transition it is, which is another reason a long paid family leave is so important. It gives new parents the opportunity to figure out the things they weren’t able to plan in advance from childcare to finances, and even their relationship.
Think about it like this: as a working mom, you never stop working. From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, you’re either focusing on your child or a big project at work. Of course, your priorities really change and tend to focus more on the health and happiness of your kids, but career and passions are still as important, if not more so, than ever.
HOW HAS YOUR TRANSITION BEEN BACK TO THE WORKPLACE?
Juls: The transition has been pretty smooth, which is mostly a tribute to my team. It hasn’t been easy, of course, but everyone has stepped up to help me.
On top of this, our 6-week work-from-home transition policy allowed me to get back into the flow of work before actually having to leave my daughter to come back into the office.
Remote and flexible work have helped me realize that I don’t have to give up either aspect of my life. I can work from home and be close to my daughter, and I can go in and connect with my colleagues, knowing that I have trust and support in both areas of my life. I highly suggest having a transition plan with your team well in advance; having a thorough plan made work that much more easy when I came back.
WHAT’S BEEN THE HARDEST PART OF THE TRANSITION?
Juls: One of the hardest parts about transitioning back to work is guilt. It’s a common discussion for parents, but I don’t think people at work always realize how serious it is. Emotionally focusing on work and not on worrying about my daughter can be tough. When I returned to work, it was a huge life change for her, too. On top of that, I’ll feel guilty for leaving early from work to take care of her. It’s a double-edged sword.
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND HAS BECOME EASIER?
Juls: I’ve actually found with the support of my team, even with a shorter work day, I’ve become even more productive and focused. Anyone is this position will learn quickly how to prioritize and manage your time. I feel I’m much more efficient at work and have learned how to optimize every part of my life.
CAN YOU TELL ME A BIT ABOUT BOUNCEX’S PRIMARY AND SECONDARY LEAVE POLICIES?
Juls: Our primary and secondary leave policies are some of the best in the country, topping most major players in our industry. We offer 20 weeks of paid leave plus a 6 week work-from-home transition period for primary caregivers, while Working Mother listed that many of the top policies only offer 15. That’s already abnormal in the U.S., but when we were creating this policy we knew that we had to extend leave to secondary caregivers and adoptive parents as well. Our secondary leave is actually better than most primary leave policies with 12 weeks paid time off. In the U.S., the only federal law guaranteeing maternity leave is unpaid (and doesn’t even apply to all companies) and doesn’t account for secondary or adoptive leave at all. Look, as a company and a nation, we can always do better. We can always help our new parents more and support our children, but our policies are a fantastic start and I can’t wait to watch us improve even more over time.