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Why Every Company Needs to Prioritize Paid Family Leave

Exelon's new paid leave policy will allow both women and men to meet the dual demands of work and family.

​The majority of CEOs in America report that gender diversity is a top priority. Yet this commitment doesn’t always translate into action.

Women are still underrepresented at nearly every level of America’s workforce. At Exelon we believe it’s time for American employers to drive the necessary progress to reverse this trend, which is why we’re excited to expand our family leave for parents and primary caregivers.

Fairness in the workplace and policies that allow both women and men to meet the dual demands of work and family are critical. We need to continue to innovate when it comes to creating a forward-thinking, people-focused organization.

No one should have to decide between career and family.

However, research shows that mothers across all education levels drop out of the workforce at a disproportionately higher rate than fathers.

This drop is one of the many reasons women make up 45 percent of entry-level positions, but only 19 percent of the C-suite. And that gap is one of the many reasons women earn only 79 percent of what a typical man working full-time earns.

We see this trend at Exelon. Our female employees have lower tenures and are consequently less represented across the highest-paying jobs at our company.

When both women and men share responsibilities at home, the participation of women at all levels of the workforce increases, and, as a result, the gender pay gap closes too. Studies are clear on this.

McKinsey & Company and Lean In partnered to report on the state of women in corporate America in 2016. According to their findings: “43 percent of women who share responsibilities evenly with their partner aspire to become top executives.” Only 34 percent of women responsible for the majority of housework and child care share that aspiration.

We want every American worker to be able to achieve the professional position they aspire to while creating and nurturing a family at home.

Exelon is committed to putting policies in place to make this possible across our family of companies.

We recently joined more than 100 companies in signing the White House’s Equal Pay Pledge to close the national gender pay gap. Although a recent study alongside Berkshire Associates produced no indicators of systematic gender discrimination, Exelon has publicly committed to continually focus on paying people based on the work they do, the performance in their role, contributions to Exelon’s success, and what is competitive in the market.

Signing the pledge was the first step in promoting a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Today, we’re taking it a step further by expanding family leave benefits for parents and primary caregivers.

Our industry-leading new policy includes the following:

  • Up to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave for mothers who have given birth
  • Up to eight weeks of paid bonding leave for fathers and adoptive parents
  • Two weeks paid leave for primary caregivers to care for critically ill family members

The new benefits program will be effective on January 1, 2017 for all eligible employees.

Although Exelon already offered competitive benefits package that included family leave options, adoption assistance and caregiver support, we continue to seek opportunities to strengthen our employee programs.

Over the coming year, we will work with leading organizations like the National Partnership for Women and Families to ensure that our workplace policies and programs are sound and effective. And we will share our efforts with the entire business community. We hope that our actions surrounding diversity and inclusion inspire other executives to follow our lead.

Change starts with employers. It’s time for all CEOs and CHROs to take action when it comes to gender diversity.