15 May 2018
Spreading the Safety Net
Jennifer Hyman on the decision to extend the same benefits to all Rent the Runway employeesTopics:
Photo via LinkedIn
In a May 6, 2018, op-ed in the New York Times, Rent the Runway co-founder and CEO Jennifer Hyman (MBA 2009) discussed the reasoning behind her recent decision to equalize benefits for all employees—a move that fulfills both a moral duty to contribute toward greater societal equality and a fiduciary obligation to shareholders, she writes.
Like so many companies before us, my company, Rent the Runway, had two tiers of workers. Our salaried employees — who typically came from relatively privileged, educated backgrounds — were given generous parental leave, paid sick leave and the flexibility to work from home, or even abroad. Our hourly employees, working in Rent the Runway’s warehouse, on the customer service team and in our retail stores, had to face life events like caring for a newborn, grieving after the death of a family member or taking care of a critically ill loved one without this same level of benefits. I had inadvertently created classes of employees — and by doing so, had done my part to contribute to America’s inequality problem.
The new policy gives warehouse employees access to the same benefits package enjoyed by the leadership team. Hyman writes that it will serve the best interests of its 1,200 employees, without whom Rent the Runway would not exist, but she also expects it to benefit the company itself—in the form higher retention rates, lower training costs, and better productivity. “I want Rent the Runway to be an example of what a modern workplace should be—a leader in creating a more human workplace, where the heart is just as important as the head, and where we show that we care about each and every member of our team equally,” she writes.
Class of MBA 2009, Section I