Apple’s Missed Opportunity to Redefine the Relationship between Work and Home Life

Apple’s Missed Opportunity to Redefine the Relationship between Work and Home Life

Apple, the world’s most valuable company, valued at almost one trillion dollars, has been showing off its new corporate headquarters recently. As Quartz reported[1], the new $5 billion dollar, 175-acre campus has, among numerous enticing amenities, a 100,000 square foot gym and no day care center.

Part of what makes this surprising is that several years ago, Apple made headlines for breaking new ground for women in the workforce by paying for the costs of egg freezing and fertility treatments[2].  What makes egg freezing a valuable investment, but not daycare?

As the Quartz article points out, on-site childcare is a rare workplace perk in the US (with large international law firms as one interesting exception), but one with noticeable advantages. Patagonia, which has had onsite childcare for 33 years[3], has been able to retain 100% of the women staff who have had children over the past five years. The average retention rate for new mothers in the US is 79% – compared to an 88% overall voluntary retention rate for all industries in 2015[4].

We typically see attraction and retention of talent as a top strategic priority among our clients. Contributing to this urgency is the fact that only 16% of employees from our professional services clients are Millennials. This is well below the 35% of Millennials that made up the US workforce as a whole in 2015. This discrepancy can have widespread ramifications for the future success of an organization (see my previous post, Generations in Flux).  Childcare, an amenity particularly appealing to the Millennial demographic, can be a powerful attraction and retention tool. It is an amenity that can help parents, especially mothers, remain in the workforce.

Without question, onsite childcare can be fraught with logistical, liability, and cost challenges. But as Patagonia has demonstrated, it can be successful — and it can pay for itself.  As the world’s most valuable company (and arguably its most visible), Apple had the opportunity to help redefine our relationship between work and home life. They had the opportunity to make it easier for working parents to balance their careers and their family. They had the opportunity to set an example for other companies. Instead, they’re helping women to put off motherhood, rather than helping them balance it – and possibly hurting their culture, capability, and performance in the process.

[1] Murphy, Mike. Apple’s new $5 billion campus has a 100,000-square-foot gym and no daycare. May 16, 2017.

[2] Alba, Davey. Apple and Facebook Pay for Female Employees to Freeze Eggs. October 14, 2014.

[3] Anderson, Jenny. This is what work-life balance looks like at a company with 100% retention of moms. October 16, 2016.

[4] Compensation Force.

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