Women in Tech Meetup, March 2016

March 18, 2016

Posted in: tech, local, startup.

Women in Tech Meetup

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Figure 1: LeaveLogic Presentation

A few days ago, I had the chance to attend a local Women in Tech (WIT) event, hosted by New Tech Northwest and Seattle Women in Tech. It was a really nice event, hosted at the OfferUp! office in Bellevue. The event featured the following set of speakers:

I particularly enjoyed the LeaveLogic presentation. The firm's objective is to facilitate parental leave, making sure the transitions into leave and back to work are smooth for both employee and employer. In addition to the moral aspects, there is a positive correlation between parental leave programs and employee retention. It is certainly true that offering generous parental leave plans fosters employee goodwill, helps attract better talent, and in the long run can actually be in the firm's financial interest. However, as efficient as the market may be, many employers do not offer any type of paid leave. My guess is that these firms want to act in their own financial best interest, but are hesitant to implement such policies because they are not sure that these policies will pay off. Steffeney, the CEO of LeaveLogic, referred to a blog post at Optimizely, Open-Sourcing Parental Leave, which goes through their calculations to show how they justify, financially, their parental leave program. It is certainly a worthwhile read and shows a model that is both clear and interpretable, as well as thorough.

The parallels to the health and insurance industry are clear. It is far better for the patient, as well as less expensive, to test and treat diseases, especially cancers, early rather late. However, it is difficult to make the case to payers (employers / insurance companies) that these tests are worthwhile. See, e.g. "Screening for and Treating Early-Stage Lung Cancer Is Less Costly Than Treating Late-Stage Disease".

For LeaveLogic, parental leave, health care, and for life in general, doing the more expensive thing initially is a psychological and economic hurdle we all face. Research in this area will hopefully guide us to making more efficient decisions with higher quality outcomes for all parties.