A place for parents: Sasha Young on the challenges and triumphs of being a working mother, and Dropbox’s competitive new parental benefits
The responsibilities that working parents have to juggle can be challenging. Imagine giving an important presentation to a room full of senior board members at 4 o’clock and transitioning into taking care of your sick child at home at 5:30. It’s not easy to manage these two worlds. But when you work for a company that emphasizes flexibility and understands the importance of parenthood, it’s a start.
Sasha Young is the Head of Global Benefits at Dropbox. She’s also a mother. For millions of working moms, the responsibilities they take on at work can make it difficult to find time to care for their children. It can make it even harder to find time focus on themselves. We’ve tried to create an environment in which every team member is given the flexibility to mold their work schedule around their home life when necessary, and the trust that they’ll do so responsibly.
“I’m really grateful to have people at Dropbox who acted as examples and told me it was okay to work flexibly,” said Sasha. “It’s okay to leave to pick up my kid from school, and to take a day off when he’s sick. I also realize that the longer I stay here, the more that people look to me as an example too. So I really try to treat things like having to pump with normalcy. I invite people into what my experience is, so that we are all contributing to a workplace where people can bring their full selves to work and not have to apologize for or pretend that they don’t have kids.”
“At a high level, I think one of the things I love most about being in benefits is that there is a top down example of ‘trust first.’ I feel it comes from our co-founders. They want to see the good in other people and give them the opportunity to work flexibly without having strict rules in place. That sort of outlook on humanity really shapes the flexibility we have at work.”
Sasha is now expecting her second child, which makes workplace flexibility even more important to her. As she’s preparing to go on leave, the monumental changes that the benefits team are making to their leave policy have been top of mind.
All parents who welcome a new child, whether they are birthing, non-birthing, or adoptive, will now be entitled to 24 weeks of paid new child leave. This global policy was developed alongside a 2018 survey that took inventory of what policies and programs we could offer to improve our employees’ lives — the results of which overwhelmingly showed that Dropboxer’s value their time and ability to work flexibly over monetary benefits or increases to existing programs.
“We want to help contribute to a world in which both parents in a two person household are able to share and fully contextualize the child-rearing responsibilities,” said Sasha. “When one parent has a much longer leave period, it’s really difficult to then plug the parent without a long leave period into the context of child-rearing. That’s a head start that could have longer-term ripple effects.”
“With this new policy, adoptive parents will be given the same leave entitlements as others. This will be a huge change for non-birthing parents as well, who normally have to go to back to work earlier. We felt that one of the best things we could offer someone who is recovering from childbirth is a partner who is home for longer.”
One concern that some raised when exploring the new benefits package was the challenges that this extended leave could have on finding coverage for teams in need. Sasha and the benefits team have turned this into a positive: Dropboxers can choose to cover their colleagues from different departments, allowing them to get their feet wet in a role they may not have ever had access to otherwise, and opening up possibilities for a future lateral career move. And when it is finally time to return to work, parents will come back to their jobs with a new policy that helps them get the time they need to catch back up.
“We often heard that it was difficult for people coming back from longer leave to transition back to work. In that first week, you often have a new daycare situation or a new nanny, or your commute has changed because you have to do a drop off now, or you may have moved desks or teams or leads while you were gone. You’re trying to catch up on email and Paper docs and figure out where the pumping room is and schedule your day around that need too. There is so much going on in that first week, and we wanted to make statement of what Dropbox’s expectations of transitioning parents are. So we’re introducing a 1-week transition period, where employees will receive full pay but can work 60% of their normal time. We wanted to give people the permission to take time to readjust.”
Interested in learning more about how you, too, can thrive as a parent at Dropbox under our new policies? Visit dropbox.com/jobs to check out our open positions.