As conversations surrounding reproductive health and family planning continues to evolve, more companies are recognizing the importance of supporting their employees’ fertility journeys.
Egg freezing, once a controversial topic, is now being offered as a valuable benefit by a growing number of organizations
Sarah Wilson, a 32-year-old employee at Okta, had limited knowledge about egg freezing until she attended a nurse appointment. Her understanding was largely influenced by Hollywood films and misleading Facebook ads from private clinics. However, as the topic gained prevalence among her female friends, Wilson saw it as an opportunity to expand her options for the future.
Okta, a digital identity specialist, covered the costs of Wilson’s egg-freezing process as part of their policy that supports fertility treatments and adoption expenses, up to $5,000.
The popularity of egg-freezing has been on the rise in several countries across the world
According to the UK’s regulatory Human Fertilisation and Embryo Authority (HFEA), there were 11 times more egg-freeze cycles in 2021 compared to 2011. However, this still represents a small proportion (4%) of all fertility treatments.
Okta is among the many companies now offering egg freezing as part of a comprehensive suite of reproductive benefits for their employees. Mercer, a consultancy, reports that in 2022, 16% of US companies with 500 or more employees provided this benefit, up from 11% two years prior. Additionally, over a quarter of larger employers with 5,000 or more employees offered egg freezing as a benefit. Companies like Cooley, a law firm, and Goldman Sachs, a US bank, have also introduced extensive fertility and family-forming benefits that include egg freezing.
Although big tech companies faced criticism in 2014 for offering egg freezing as a benefit, a 2020 study published in AJOB Empirical Bioethics found that these offers did not pressure women to delay childbearing.
Women cited factors such as not having a partner or prioritizing their social and career goals as reasons for postponing parenthood. However, the study cautioned that offering egg freezing as a recruitment tactic should be communicated carefully to avoid misconceptions about personal sacrifices. It is advisable for employers to ensure that employees can access the benefit without feeling pressured, and to consider not advertising it to prospective employees.
This shift in attitudes towards egg freezing benefits may indicate a generational change
Millennials and Gen Z, who expect some level of coverage for reproductive health, are driving this trend.
The increased openness about reproductive struggles, seen across social and online platforms, has also contributed to the growing interest in egg freezing. Moreover, there has been a change in workplace attitudes towards previously private issues. For instance, some companies have introduced new roles, such as fertility officers, to provide support for employees navigating fertility-related challenges.
Professor Geeta Nargund, the medical director of Create Fertility, emphasizes that offering egg freezing as a workplace benefit is particularly beneficial for younger employees who may struggle to afford private treatment.
Freezing eggs at a younger age increases the chances of success in the future.
However, the increase in awareness and demand for egg freezing has also been fueled by aggressive marketing strategies which has led to some women having unrealistic expectations about the procedure.
While egg freezing is not a guaranteed solution, it has become an important option for individuals who want to preserve their fertility.
Despite the enticing images portrayed on social media and advertising, the success rate for women using their own frozen eggs is around 18%, according to the HFEA.
Sarah Wilson acknowledges the uncertainties but sees egg freezing as an insurance policy for her future family plans
Overall, as companies recognize the significance of supporting their employees’ reproductive health, offering egg freezing as a benefit can be a valuable investment in their well-being. By providing access to these options, employers are empowering individuals to make informed decisions about their future and helping to create a more inclusive and supportive work environment.